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One Church, indivisible: Aimee's blog from Crete

Once every five years or so, a group of about 120 men and women, pastors, laypersons, academics, and church leaders get together to talk about the issues that still divide the churches. It's called the Faith and Order Plenary Commission, and its next meeting will take place at the Orthodox Academy of Crete, Greece, 7-13 October 2009.oac

This year, I've been invited to go. 

And I'm writing a blog.

 

The Big Crete Meeting

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I know it when I see it

Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009

How would you know the church if you met it on the street?

Our task for Monday was to look at a text called “The Nature and Mission of the Church” (NMC for short). It’s a 60+ page document that tries to describe what the church is, does and is supposed to do. It’s long and dense, and includes sentences like, “The word of God is made known to us through the Gospel primarily and normatively borne witness to by the apostles, making the communion of the faithful a community that lives in, and is responsible for, the succession of the apostolic truth expressed in faith and life throughout the ages.”

It’s not the easiest text to read – especially if it’s not in your first language.

But the question it tries to answer is important: what, exactly, is the church?

For some Christians, the church exists wherever followers of Christ gather together. For some, the church is wherever the Lord’s Supper is shared. For some, the church is wherever tradition has been passed down from the first apostles. For some, the church is wherever the Scriptures are read and the gospel preached. For some, the church is wherever Christ’s healing ministry takes place.

The NMC writers had a difficult task: trying to describe the church in a way that all of us can say, in one way or another, “yes, that’s the church I know.”

For better or worse, the past two days showed that while we appreciated all the work that’s been done, the document is not quite ripe yet. It needs more development, more time, more editing, more balance. In general, the Protestant churches were most likely to feel like, “this still doesn’t quite reveal the church we know.” We’re getting closer to common vision, but we’re not there yet.

So, my friends and colleagues, I want to know: how do you know the church when you see it?

Comments Comments

Bud F said on Oct 14, 2009
Aimee... you're most likely "up in the air" now heading back to the sunshine of the Bay area. The vision of what constitutes the church will ever be a matter of discussion but what we need is the church in action meeting the needs of folk in the manner of Christ's love. We do it some of the time but most of us just want to be "fed" and forget that nourishment comes with involvements where Jesus "walked". But also recognizing that each of us as a disciple has our own favorite description of what the church is... ask the students you meet and I'm sure their understanding and vision is just as wide if they even have an idea of what "church" means. It's another in one of those enriching experiences... much like the man from the S.Pacific showing his "setting" for the church... rest and renew Bud
Aimee said on Oct 14, 2009
Thanks, Bud! I appreciate you reading...and commenting. I know you have kindred experiences and have enjoyed the breadth and depth of the church - and been enriched and humbled by it. You'll be glad to know that the major critique of NMC was that it was not enough connected to the lived experience of people - and that its section on mission was poorly developed...the church knows we need to do more!
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