WASHINGTON—The need for visible unity in faith and Eucharistic fellowship was stressed at the April 3-5 meeting of the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches (NCC). The commission, which met at Morehouse College in Atlanta, inaugurated its 2008-2011 quadrennium at the meeting.
The official Catholic delegation to the commission included theologians Christopher Ruddy, Ph.D., of the University of St. Thomas, Holy Cross Father John Ford, of The Catholic University of America, and Barbara Sain, Ph.D., also of St. Thomas University.
The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, recently-elected General Secretary of the NCC and long-time participant in the Faith and Order Commission, noted the NCC's commitment to Faith and Order Commission and challenged the members both to keep foremost the goal of visible unity in faith and Eucharistic fellowship and to assume greater responsibility for the work of the NCC.
Antonios (Tony) Kireopoulos, Ph.D., senior program director for the Commission, introduced the Executive Committee for the new quadrennium: Dr. Anton (Tony) Vrame (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America) chair; Aimee Moiso (Presbyterian Church USA),vice-chair; and Ruddy, representing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCB), secretary.
The study groups for the 2008-2011 quadrennium are "Justice and Justification: Beyond the Dichotomies," "Unity in Mission," and "The Nature and Mission of the Church."
Justice and Justification seeks points of integration among divergent ecclesial views on justification and justice. Unity in Mission looks at the various dimensions of the church's mission in the world: proclamation, reconciliation, care and advocacy for the marginalized and neediest. The Nature and Mission of the Church study group examines and ultimately will offer a response to the World Council of Churches document on nature and mission, particularly from the perspective of ecumenism and ecclesial life in the United States.
Each study group is led by two co-conveners who will serve until permanent chairs are selected at the Commission meeting in October. The co-conveners for Justification and Justice are Dr. Terry Cross (Society for Pentecostal Studies) of Lee University, and Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Theresa Koernke of the Washington Theological Union. The co-conveners for Unity in Mission are Dr. Don Thorsen (Wesleyan Theological Society) of the Haggard School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University and Dr. Mitzi Budde (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) of Virginia Theological Seminary. The co-conveners for The Nature and Mission of the Church are Dr. Peter Bouteneff (Orthodox Church in America) of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary and the Rev. Sophie Mathonnet-Vanderwell (Reformed Church in America) of the Second Reformed Church in Pella, Iowa.
The USCCB has participated in the Faith and Order Commission since 1968. Its next meeting will be October 16-18 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
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