At the just-completed meeting of The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, I was able to present to the National Concerns Committe and through them to the Council three major ecumenical and interfaith initiatives we will be bringing to General Convention.
The first is a full communion relationship with the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church. Similar to the agreement with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, this will allow for more common mission between our churches, exchange of clergy, etc. As always in these matters, we will each receive gifts from the other and take one more step toward the full visible unity of the Christian Church.
The second initiative is the presentation of a theological statement on interreligious relations. While it may seem obvious that The Episcopal Church should be involved in such discussions, we have never really stated a thoughtful, theological rationale for doing so. The Standing Commission on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations has produced such a document and we hope it will be accepted by Convention.
Finally, there is a modest proposal for joint mission and ministry with the Presbyterian Church in the USA. While our deeply-held convictions about the ordained ministry (and particularly the excercise of “episcope,” the ministry of oversight) are so different that we are not able to find a way forward into full communion at this time, there is yet much we can do together. This proposal seeks to identify what we do have in common and suggest some ways forward in joint mission.
Hopefully these initiatives will not get lost in the other myriad resolutions and actions which will come before both Houses at Convention. They are the fruit of patient, ongoing work toward the kind of unity for which Christ prayed and new ways to love our neighbors as ourselves.