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Boy reading the Bible during a Sunday service, Tanzania

Photo: Albin Hillert/Life on Earth pictures

As a part of the reception process of the convergence document The Church: Towards a Common Vision,” the ecclesiology study group of the WCC Commission on Faith and Order broadened the ecclesiological table by opening a wide range of conversations on global Christianity and ecclesiology. 

This broadening included perspectives from various regions (especially Asia, Africa, and Latin America), denominational families (such as evangelical, pentecostal, charismatic, and independent churches), and forms of being church (such as ecclesial movements, new forms of monasticism, and online churches) which have not always been clearly or strongly represented.

The study group took the opportunity to explore the understandings of ecclesiology held by such churches, and engaged in fruitful theological reflection with them.

This series of two volumes offers a taste of the insights, contributions, lively dialogue, diverse perspectives, and mutual exchange of ecumenical gifts between the members of the commission and theologians from all around the world, which took place through a series of international consultations between 2015-2022. 

Although various aspects of ecclesiology from these regions and denominational families may initially seem distant from, or even incompatible with more traditional” ecclesiologies, dialogue unearthed much common ground, which ultimately led to a significant growth in convergence. 

This first volume offers a taste of this growth in convergence through the consultations of the commission with theologians from the global South. The fruit of this work will be offered with the hope that it will contribute towards a clearer, global vision of the church in the 21st century.

The discussion was moderated by Dr Ani Ghazaryan Drissi, WCC programme executive for the Faith and Order Commission, who explained that this webinar was fifth in a series of six focused on the 78 responses to the WCC Faith and Order convergence document. This volume offers a perception of the contributions, dialogue, and mutual exchange between the members of the commission and theologians all around the world which took place via international consultations between 2015 and 2022,” she said.

Rev. Dr Cecil M. Robeck, Jr, senior professor of church history and ecumenics, Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, USA, WCC Faith and Order commissioner, spoke from the perspective of a longtime member of the commission. One of the things the World Council of Churches has been very concerned about since 1948 is the church: what that means and how that looks, and how different denominations understand the nature, the mission, the role of the church,” he said. Of course, convergence doesnt mean that we all agree but it does show we are growing closer together in a variety of ways.”

Rev. Dr Sotirios Boukis, ordained minister of the Evangelical Church of Greece, WCC Faith and Order commissioner, reflected on analyzing and harvesting responses, and discussing with a broader table. We wanted to engage in dialogue with voices from denominational families like evangelical, pentecostal, and charismatic churches, and so on,” said Boukis.

Prof Dr Julie  C. Ma, professor of missiology and intercultural studies, Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, spoke on The Missional Church Through Reproduction,” in other words, numerous perceptions and understandings from man different mission organizations.”

Rev. Dr Christian Tsekpoe, director of Postgraduate Studies and Research at Pentecost University, Accra-Ghana, spoke on discipleship and ordained ministry in the pentecostal church of Ghana.”

Dr Elizabeth Salazar-Sanzana, professor of the Theological Evangelical Community of Chile (CTE), said: Most of pentecostalism—the movement of the pentecost—has developed with an aversion to ecumenism, and so this reflection considers its own limitations because of the diversity of pentecostalism.”

 

Faith and Order study group releases paper “Towards a Global Vision of the Church Volume I: Explorations on Global Christianity and Ecclesiology” (news release, November 2022)

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