The World Council of Churches (WCC) Faith and Order Commission completed its meeting, held 12-19 June, in Nanjing, China, the third major WCC meeting held in China over the last three years. Hosted by the China Christian Council, the commission met to discuss and make decisions about the results of the work of its three study groups on ecclesiology, moral discernment and the pilgrimage of justice and peace.
Rev. Wu Wei, president of the China Christian Council, extended a sincere welcome to the commission. “The WCC is the only international church organization that China Christian Council takes part as a member,” reflected Wu. “It is to our great delight that we have this opportunity of hosting the Faith and Order Commission meeting, not only because of the bond with the WCC for decades, but also because of the belief that the explorations on the nature of the church done by this commission is inspiring and illuminating to our pursuit of the church unity in China.”
WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit expressed deep appreciation for his visits with the China Christian Council, which has 38 million members; and the Three Self Patriotic Movement in Shanghai, which does 40,000 baptisms annually.
“The significance of the relationship to the WCC, our programs, governing bodies, members churches and staff was emphasized, and the intensified efforts in that direction over the last years were acknowledged,” said Tveit. “It is a privilege and a blessing to work with the representatives from the China Christian Council and to be a partner in pursuing these developments,” he said.
Rev. Dr Susan Durber, Faith and Order moderator, said the commission celebrated the diversity of humankind, culture and church, “and we robustly reject any former sense that one kind of culture should dominate or that humankind should be rendered uniform,” she said. “This is, I believe, a positive development. However, this very strong emphasis on diversity means that we sometimes lose sight of the things that we hold in common, and we become shy of voicing them for fear of seeming to be anti-diversity.”
Faith and Order director Rev. Dr Odair Pedroso Mateus asked the commission to deepen and share what divided churches hold in common about the nature and mission of the one church. “We are gathered in Nanjing in order to serve theologically the churches as they call each other – or should call each other – to visible unity in Eucharistic fellowship; we are gathered in Nanjing in order to review the work accomplished and to discern in consensus the steps that the three study groups should now take in order to present to our churches the results of our work in ways that are owned by all of us and that may lead them to grow in their real though imperfect communion,” he said.
The WCC Faith and Order Commission is a study commission. As a think tank constituted by official representatives of churches belonging to the main historical streams of Christianity, including the Roman Catholic Church, the commission is a unique multilateral, global forum of ecumenical theology.