Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Churches speaking and acting together in Birmingham

The Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches meeting in New Delhi, India in 1961 issued a widely accepted definition of the visible unity sought by the modern ecumenical movement:

We believe that the unity which is both God’s will and his gift to his Church is being made visible as all in each place who are baptized into Jesus Christ and confess him as Lord and Saviour are brought by the Holy Spirit into one fully committed fellowship, holding the one apostolic faith preaching the one Gospel, breaking the one bread, joining in common prayer, and having a corporate life reaching out in witness and service to all and who at the same time are united with the whole Christian fellowship in all places and all ages in such wise that ministry and members are accepted by all, and that all can act and speak together as occasion requires for the tasks to which God calls his people.

Last week participants in the annual meeting of Christian Churches Together in the USA in Birmingham, Alabama embodied what it means for the churches to "act and speak together as occasion requires for the tasks to which God calls his people" in issuing "A Letter from Birmingham" in response to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1963 "Letter from Birmingham Jail." I'm pleased that leaders of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the Baptist communion to which I belong and a member body of Christian Churches Together in the USA, have joined in issuing "A Letter From Birmingham" and have made public statements calling attention to its significance. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has issued a press release, published also as an Associated Baptist Press story.

Good news to share on the opening day of the 2011 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

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