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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.

 
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The Big Crete Meeting

  •  Be yourself

    Tuesday, Sep. 29, 2009

    At most ecumenical meetings like this, we quickly get "labeled."

    "What country are you from, which denomination or communion are you with, what's your title or degree, what did you study?"

    The labels are complicated. On the one hand, it's helpful to know where people are from, or what church they belong to. On the other hand, none of these answers is simple.

    "I'm from the United States (really Oregon, which is different from Texas or California or New York). I'm Presbyerian (but Presbyterian Church USA, which is not the same as Cumberland Presbyterian or Presbyterian Church in America). I'm Reverend (but I'm also Ms., and daughter and granddaughter and sister and friend)..."

    In ecumenical settings, we're all trying to represent our traditions and bring them to the conversation, but we're also just individual people who've encountered God through a particular Christian lens, particular congregations, pastors or priests, cultures and contexts, life experiences. We bring all that and more to these meetings, each person with a story to tell.

    So, when we're trying to work through historic divisions, which labels matter, and which ones don't? Which ones get us closer to finding unity as the body of Christ, and which ones keep our divisions front and center? Which ones honor the richness of our traditions, and which ones need to be put to rest?

  •  What will all these people be talking about?

    Monday, Sep. 28, 2009

    So, more than 120 people are gathering to talk about the church and its divisions. What's on the agenda? 

    • What it means to be church: Is the church a building, a group of people, a particular tradition, a worship style, a theological conviction, a type of mission work? We'll be looking at a draft of "The Nature and Mission of the Church," which was written over recent years by people from diverse Christian traditions, seeking common ground about what it means to be the church.
    • Sources of authority: It's an old argument: Scripture vs. tradition. By looking at how churches use sources of authority, the commission will take a new approach to the old debate - less theory, more real, personal stories of faith.
    • Moral discernment: How does the church make moral choices? Through case studies – some of them on controversial issues like proselytism, homosexuality and stem-cell research – the commission will critically look at how churches arrive at their moral and ethical positions.

     

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