Thursday, September 6, 2018

Bishop’s Note: September 06, 2018 – The “Jerusalem Declaration” and Ecumenism

Bishop Eric Menees

We continue our exploration of the Jerusalem Declaration (the full text of which can be found here:

This week we look at point eleven – Ecumenism: 

We are committed to the unity of all those who know and love Christ and to building authentic ecumenical relationships. We recognize the orders and jurisdiction of those Anglicans who uphold orthodox faith and practice, and we encourage them to join us in this declaration.

Point 11 of the Jerusalem Declaration is in alignment with, and in response to, the prayer of Jesus in John 17:20-21:  “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” In this scripture, Jesus prays that the disciples AND others who come to believe will be united in a common faith.

This is the heart of ecumenism – the desire for a common faith throughout the whole earth. In fact, the Encyclopedia Britannica defines it in this way: “The word ecumenism is derived from the Greek words oikoumenē (‘the inhabited world’) and oikos (‘house’) and can be traced from the commands, promises, and prayers of Jesus.”

We in the ACNA have embraced this desire for unity and seriously engaged with conversations with other faithful Christian denominations – Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant. I consider it a great honor to be the lead bishop in our conversations with the Roman Catholic Church, where my prayer is that, someday, we’ll come to a place of table fellowship – meaning that Anglicans and Roman Catholics will be welcomed together in the Eucharistic Feast.

Over the past two thousand years there have been many divisions in the church. These divisions have been at times political and cultural; at other times theological; and at still other times, a combination of the both. Our recent separation from the Episcopal Church is an example of theological differences that have led to political and cultural changes; TEC denied the uniqueness of Christ for salvation, denied the sanctity of life for the unborn and weak, and denied the moral teachings and authority of Holy Scripture. This is all to say that, sometimes, these divisions have been important and necessary in order to remain faithful to Christ and His Church. Still, there is no question in my mind that the heart of Christ is broken by the divisions that have arisen in his church.

The second half of point eleven is the recognition and respect for our other faithful Anglican provinces around the world. We, the signers of the “Jerusalem Declaration,” commit to respecting each other’s orders and boundaries. This means that bishops, priests, and deacons can transfer from one province to another and be granted full rights and responsibilities. For this reason, there are ACNA clergy serving around the world, and other Anglican clergy serving within the ACNA.

I pray you all a truly blessed week!

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