The name “Faith and Order” refers to two areas in which remaining disagreements prevent communion or unity among Christian churches.
The first is “faith” in the sense of what churches believe. Significant disagreements on what churches believe prevent common life among them. Unity requires a certain level of agreement in matters of belief.
The second area is “order” in the sense of how the church ministry is organized as it serves and communicates God’s salvation in Christ. Significant disagreements in this area also prevent communion among churches. Unity requires a certain level of agreement in matters of “order.”
The Commission on Faith and Order undertakes theological studies so that the churches may reach sufficient agreement across their diversity and grow in mutual care and accountability. In doing so, the churches are persistent in their belief that the church of Jesus Christ is not many “churches” but One Church.
Episcopalians and other Reformation churches launched the Faith and Order Movement in the US, in 1910. The movement held two world conferences, in 1927 and 1937. After 1948, the movement became the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches.