Leaders of churches actively engaged in cooperation and the search for common witness will meet in Greece early next month to address the question of “Christian unity from a new perspective”.
The gathering of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Commission on Faith and Order comes at at time of unprecedented challenge for many of the historic Christian denominations across the world.
The meeting will take place at the Orthodox Academy of Crete. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I will welcome and pray for the 120 members of the commission gathered in Kolympari from 7 to 14 October 2009.
The gathering will address difficult and often divisive questions of moral discernment as well as issues of church order, faith, doctrine and polity.
The 'new approach', as some are calling it, will be rooted in a reflection on how churches relate to their sources of theological authority. Case studies will be used to illustrate how churches use these references to make moral decisions.
WCC President Dr Mary Tanner will encourage participants to engage in what she believes could be the beginning of a new phase in Faith and Order’s history.
The main theme of the meeting, “Called to be the One Church”, will be addressed by prominent Church leaders and theologians from Europe, South Africa, Latin America and East Asia.
Past work from the Faith and Order Commission has included a major study of 'ethics and ecclesiology' - so the emphasis on moral discernment draws on a substantial tradition of intellectual work among specialists, even if this has not always been reflected in discussions among church leaders.
The World Council of Churches is the largest inter-church body of its kind, drawing together hundreds of Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican churches and cooperating with the Roman Catholic Church - a full member of the Commission on Faith and Order.