The Rev. Canon John Gibault, director of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, (left) helped produce the WCC’s The Church: Toward a Common Vision document. The Rev. Canon Dr. Alyson Barnett-Cowan, director of Unity, Faith and Order for the Anglican Communion, (right) oversaw the production of the study guide. Both are priests in the Anglican Church of Canada. Photo: Bruce Myers
Aptly released for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the Anglican Communion Office has produced a study guide to the World Council of Churches (WCC) document The Church: Towards a Common Vision, the result of 20 years of study and dialogue among the council’s member churches, who represent most of the world’s churches.
The WCC published Towards a Common Vision in March 2013 and asked its members to study it and comment on it. According to the WCC’s introduction, the document asks and offers answers to the questions “What can we say together about the Church of the Triune God in order to grow in communion, to struggle together for justice and peace in the world, and to overcome together our past and present divisions?” It begins by addressing “the Church’s mission, unity, and its being in the Trinitarian life of God” and then looks at ecumenical “growth in communion — in apostolic faith, sacramental life, and ministry — as churches called to live in and for the world.”
The Anglican Consultative Council, which met in New Zealand in 2012, commended the document to all the churches of the Anglican Communion.
In Canada, a resolution of the General Synod, which met in Ottawa in July 2013, received the document and also commended it for study. In a message for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, described Towards a Common Vision as “an extraordinary ecumenical achievement setting out an ecclesiology in which the church, serves the divine plan for the transformation of the world.”
Announcing the release of the study guide, the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order wrote that its members hoped the guide would help “stimulate discussion about The Church (the text) — and about the Church (as we seek to follow Christ together) — among Anglicans and between Anglicans and their ecumenical partners.”
The full text of The Church: Toward a Common Vision is available for download from the WCC.
Anglican Journal News, January 21, 2014