The vision of the ecumenical movement

As set out at the Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches at New Delhi, 1961:

We believe that the unity
which is God's will and his gift to his Church
is being made visible
as all in each place, who are baptised 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 which at the same time unites them with the whole Christian fellowship
in all places and all ages
in such wise that ministries and members are acknowledged by all
and that all can act and speak together as occasion requires
for the tasks to which God calls the Church.

Subsequent Assemblies of the World Council of Churches have developed this statement in a variety of directions. It is important to recognise the Roman Catholic Church is not a member of the World Council, but does belong to its Faith and Order Commission.

The Canberra Assembly of the World Council of Churches in 1991 enumerated the marks of full visible unity (what it called 'full communion'): 'the common confession of the apostolic faith; a common sacramental life entered by the one baptism and celebrated together in one Eucharistic fellowship; a common life in which members and ministries are mutually recognised and reconciled; and a common mission witnessing to the Gospel of God's grace to all people and serving the whole of creation'. The statement went on to say that 'the goal of the search for full communion is realised when all the churches are able to recognise in one another the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church in its fullness'. It specified that 'this full communion will be expressed on the local and the universal levels through conciliar forms of life and action'.

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