World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

A view from the past

WCC president from Europe Dr Mary Tanner encourages participants at the Faith and Order Plenary Commission meeting to engage in what she affirms could be the beginning of a new phase in Faith and Order's history.

09 October 2009

By Dr Mary Tanner


O God, holy and eternal Trinity,

we pray for your Church in all the world.

Sanctify its life; renew its worship;

empower its witness; heal its divisions;

make visible its unity.

Lead us with all our brothers and sisters,

towards communion in faith, life and witness

so that, united in one body by the one Spirit,

we may together witness to the perfect unity of your love.

Amen i

It is hard for me to express how grateful I am for your invitation to be with Faith and Order again, which has been so much a part of my life for almost 40 years, to be with so many dear friends with whom I have travelled on this journey, not least among them my one time fellow Vice- Moderator, His All Holiness Bartholomew, and to be here in this special Academy in Crete which has been so hospitable to Faith and Order over the years. But as I thank you for this gift, I can’t help recalling that Bishop Oliver Tomkins, a founder Director and one time Moderator of the Commission, when he was invited back to the Plenary Commission in Norway, in 1985, began his address by saying that he saw his role as being ‘an exercise in the veneration of relics’! I must surely by now qualify to be with dear Bishop Oliver, a relic of the past. But relic or not, I am delighted to be here and to be a part of a meeting which I sense, if we are open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, could be the beginning of a new phase in Faith and Order’s history, not just for us here, but for the fellowship of churches in the WCC, and for the whole ecumenical movement.

i) Santiago Prayer in On the Way to Fuller Koinonia, Santiago de Compostela 1993, ed. Thomas F. Best and Gunther Gassmann, Faith and Order Paper 166, WCC Publications, Geneva, p. xii.