Saturday, May 29

Pastoral Vision Statement

This is a working document and thus subject to change.

Pastoral / Ministry Vision

for

Federated Ecumenical Church-Plant

May, 2004

Gortner, Hudgins, Kamphausen, Schmoetzer

For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’ Matthew 18:20

Nor let any deceive themselves by a futile interpretation, in respect of the Lord having said, "Wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them ... He placed agreement first; He has made the concord of peace a prerequisite; He taught that we should agree firmly and faithfully. But how can he agree with any one who does not agree with the booty of the Church itself, and with the universal brotherhood? How can two or three be assembled together in Christ's name, who, it is evident, are separated from Christ and from His Gospel? For we have not withdrawn from them, but they from us
(St. Cyprian, On the Unity of the Church, 12).

What Is our vision:

*A congregation that shares, honors, and celebrates three streams of Christian faith as found in the Episcopal, American Baptist, and Evangelical Covenant traditions.

*A congregation whose principal aim is developing committed disciples, apologists, and ministers for the Christian faith in a post-modern age.

*A welcoming, intensely catechetical and transformational congregation, where invitation to Christian discipleship comes through worship and education in each of three traditions of Christian faith.

*A community of faith that lives in the dynamic tension of representing - and participating in - the life and work of each denomination.

We are not aiming to form yet another interdenominational church that creates an amalgamation out of pieces from different traditions. We are not aiming to have three independent congregations under one roof. We are aiming to form a truly ecumenical congregation that seeks the great Tradition of the church in, through and beyond the three represented traditions, while being committed to respecting the integrity of each tradition.

We are taking the spirit of ecumenism and the discipline of Christian humility to heart in the process of forming this unique congregation in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, where we celebrate and uphold these traditions as rich and true collections of human understanding and experience of God’s redemptive work through Jesus Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.


What Shapes our vision:

1. We are attempting to put “willing flesh” behind the willing spirit of ecumenism.

The spirit of ecumenism and church unity is indeed willing, but the flesh is often weak - or, more accurately, the flesh is often otherwise occupied and uncertain how to proceed as the spirit wills. Over the past century, ecumenical statements and proposals have been issued by multiple church groups and bodies: The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1886; the Consultation on Christian Unity’s documents (COCU); the Episcopal-Lutheran Call to Common Mission (CCM); and the World Council of Church’s Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry (BEM). We are seeking to live into these documents: to do the “rubber meets the road” work toward embodied unity in the midst of diversity.

We take these ecumenical visions as a mandate in full accord with our call as Christians in Holy Scripture - to live in unity with deep respect for our diversity (1 Cor 12). But we also understand how the well-wishing intentions and abstract agreements in prior ecumenical visions are often easier to affirm than to implement.

As long as the vision for ecumenism is only pursued in a top-down fashion, proceeding from national bodies to judicatories to local congregations, the vision will continue to stall, because it will remain difficult if not impossible for people to imagine what real-life ecumenical relations might look like.

Our aim is to launch a “grass roots” effort at implementing the vision of the documents listed above. Rather than drawing on only the “least common denominator” of shared theology and practice, we intend to be a community of faith that delves into and weaves together the spiritual traditions of the denominations represented.

2. This experiment may provide a model that addresses emerging religious & cultural shifts.

People - particularly younger people - are on a spiritual quest for authentic, honest, deeply engaging faith that respects and offers diversity & multiplicity. Yet these same people are unconcerned with denominational affiliation, often feeling alienated from their patterns of exclusivity. We understand this as a challenge to denominations, and a failure to communicate an understanding of the theological traditions they represent.

By engaging faith as the first priority, and by understanding faith as a journey, we affirm the quest for authenticity, challenge and questioning. By affirming, teaching and mutually exploring the Christian faith out of our respective denominations, we offer a different relationship to them: as spiritual and theological traditions of the historic Christian faith, mutually enriching and being enriched by the faith of the Church Universal.

More and more, people are claiming no denominational affiliation. More and more, people are “double-dipping” by splitting attendance or membership between two or more traditions. Our shared mission offers those outside the faith, and those on the periphery, the opportunity to see a different meaning of theology and denominational identity - diverse expressions of the One Faith, not merely competing entities on the religious commodities market. By creating a community that explicitly shares three denominations in one community, we offer a church that honors their honest experience of searching for the truth, love, challenge, and embrace of God.

3. This vision speaks to each of us personally in our own vocational identities and spiritual discernment of the movement of the Spirit.

Each of us has been captivated by this vision of putting flesh to the spirit of ecumenism. Each of us has found that immersion in our own traditions has led us to a deeper embrace of other, often older, Christian traditions. Each of us, regardless of the diversity or consistency of our religious upbringing, is committed to forging a community of mutual respect, dialogue, and constant exploration as a Christian witness in a postmodern world.

Each of us affirms our first allegiance and fidelity to Jesus Christ. Each of us wishes to focus primarily on helping form Christian disciples. (Matthew 28:28) Each of us celebrates the unique and beautiful expressions of Christian faith as found in each of our traditions. Each of us holds intense loyalty to each stream of Christian expression that has refreshed us, strengthened us, and led us to pitch our tents. But each of us also laments the limitations of our denominations - not due to their expressions of faith, but due to habits of over-familiarity that lead either to ignorance or contempt of other valid expressions.

As such, this vision of shared faith, of common call within diverse tradition and theology, finds a place of deep resonance in our hearts. (John 17:20ff)

Some of us are pastors and lay leaders in the traditions in which we grew up. We see the Spirit at work in our denominations and yet firmly believe that the Spirit’s work cannot simply be about the preservation of these denominations. Others of us grew up as ecumenists - families engaging in church shopping; not frivolously motivated, but motivated by an honest, heartfelt quest for a spiritual home. This exposed us to many expressions of Christian faith.

While each of us feel strongly that God has called us to this or that particular denomination, we are also aware that our upbringings are less and less unusual. This experiment calls us to clearly identify what has nurtured our faith while at the same time to hold our traditions more lightly and allow for their - and our - transformation. This vision for an experimental community of shared denominational traditions may have far-reaching appeal.


4. People have responded when we have discussed the concept with them.

Most people’s responses so far have been very positive, expressed in excitement, intrigue, and interest. Some (often those who have very strong denominational affinities) are critical and do not believe this vision can possibly be implemented. But more people respect the concept, general vision, and overarching strategy. Doubts and questions are most often linked to practical or logistical day-to-day functioning - exactly the place we want to engage in putting flesh on the spirit of ecumenism. Yet many say to us, “Tell me more, I have been looking for something like this.”

5. To make this vision of “unity in plurality” work, this church will most centrally be about growth in Christian wisdom and discipleship. (Col 1:28, 3:16)

Intentional and ongoing catechesis and formation will be the key to the life of this church. As members become familiar with the beliefs, values, and spiritual practices of each tradition, and as they make their own informed choices, they will naturally become catechists and agents of transformation for one another.

We understand catechesis and formation to be much more than intellectual or conceptual enterprises. Growth in Christian wisdom and discipleship involves real choices, real decisions, real actions, and real emotional responses. And the natural consequence of such growth is real transformation, not only of individual lives and of the gathered community of faith, but of the world around us.

Thus, everything we do - worship, service, education, pastoral ministry - can be catechetical. Yet, for this to be true, we must be intentional about instruction, explanation, and opportunities for exploration and learning from one another’s experiences. (Acts 2:42)

Since denominational identity is increasingly in question and on the wane in contemporary society, we focus principally on Christian identity. This begins by being willing to be formed by things within but also beyond our individual traditions: by the historic faith of the church by the ecumenical documents we have mentioned.

The foundational element of this formation of Christian identity is the centrality of the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist. We understand the journey of faith as moving towards and then from baptism. We also see the Eucharist as a weekly and central part of our journey and worship together. (Luke 22:19-20, 1 Cor 11:24-26)

An ecumenical intentional community, Community of the Holy Trinity, committed to common life centered on prayer, common property and hospitality, will be participating fully in this congregation. This community will provide a significant resource for formation through its offering of spiritual direction and through its members’ model of Christian discipleship.

6. We expect that many will be drawn and come.

We envision those who desire reconciliation between Christian traditions at the congregational level; those frustrated by the seeming contradiction in denominational exclusivity; and those who are looking for an honest and disciplined Christian life, being attracted to this church. The admission of denominational strife and the attempt to reconcile at the congregational level is a profoundly honest admission of the struggle that all churches face.

We also see spiritual seekers who have had little or no contact with Christianity being drawn by our offering of diversity, in a way that seeks a deeper wisdom and greater depth of the Christian tradition than any one denomination can provide. In a sense we will be presenting the mystery of faith that many are seeking in non-Christian religions, that is difficult to communicate in situations where the partial is presented as the whole.

7. Our various denominations can expect this church to contribute significantly to their denominational life, and to the Christian life overall.

We are committed to maintaining solid ties (financial, organizational, canonical, etc.) with our denominations, hopefully modeling ecumenical hope-- holding out the possibility of reconciliation without loss of denominational identity, and thereby living and working as the universal Body of Christ that all our churches proclaim. To this end we will submit to ministerial oversight, primarily through the pastoral team. (Hebrews 13:17) We will seek and accept the guidance and discipline of such denominational oversight, inasmuch as it is not in discord with holy scripture and does not violate expectations of other denominations. We intend to commit, from the beginning, to proportional giving (1/3, 1/3, 1/3) to each denominational body, according to standards expected by each denomination. (Acts 4:35)We intend to send representatives to regional and national decision making bodies of the represented denominations.

Certainly, our presence will challenge any exclusiveness that remains in our denominations. In a sense, our church plant is a prophetic word spoken against any sense of discordant autonomy our denominations might retain. Our denominational bodies must realize that we are seeking something beyond denominationalism but not beyond the spiritual traditions our denominations represent.

Yet we believe that we are offering our denominations a sense of the emerging place of denominations in the church and the historic faith. Perhaps this experiment will contribute in some small way to a renewed and reformed sense of identity for each denomination.


8. This is not just an experiment for its own sake. We aim to embody as our
tέλος (telos: ultimate aim) the kind of community that Christians should all be moving toward.

We see this local ecumenical congregation as a proclamation of the universal body of Christ-- the one holy catholic and apostolic church-- as a concrete and not merely a spiritual reality. We want to be an example of how we can be reconciled one to another, not just as individuals but also as institutions, when committed to a pervasive Christian life. This, we hope, will be a sign and beacon for embodied reconciliation between denominations at the congregational level. (John 17:20-23)

We believe that our varied spiritual traditions point in partial ways to the faith once delivered to the earliest saints - that is, the apostolic tradition of the church which has never disappeared, and that we believe is partially proclaimed in our varied traditions.

Our coming together in this way admits the wall of Zion have been torn down, the boundaries of Zion must be resurveyed, and we must begin to rebuild from the ruins of denominationalism. In our seeking to rebuild (that is, our willingness to speak of our spiritual traditions as partial articulations of the faith of the church) we witness to Christ and the Christian faith both to the world and the church.


As this piece of bread was scattered over the hills and then was brought together and made one, so let your Church be brought together from the ends of the earth into your Kingdom. (The Didache 9:4)



9. The arc of development -- and of discipleship -- will flow in this community from catechesis through personal incorporation to interpersonal accountability & dialogue, to acts of faith, hope, and love in the surrounding community and city.

We are on a journey of faith, pilgrims on the way; we invite those we meet as we travel to come and join us, and we are to leave a trace of our journey. The world and the church should be different because of our journey of faith.

There may be an initial time of fairly "inward" focus for us, as we learn what it means to come together in the ways we have described and as we seek to inform, incorporate, and be formed by this ecumenical church body. Yet this does not exclude an outward focus. Our forming this church is an act of discipleship. Thus, we will be asking the questions of who we are, not to form an impermeable barrier between us and the other, but to be of service to Christ in the world. Our action in the world comes from our grounding in the faith, and our grounding in the faith will require action in the world. In a sense, we are a seeking community who knows what is sought; admitting that what is sought, on some level, always draws us further in our seeking. The mystery of a hidden God whom we know and revealed to us in the Scriptures. A God who says "this is what I require of you; to do justice, to love mercy and walk humbly before your God."


10. "Membership", both of the whole congregation and of a chosen denomination, will be encouraged and enabled through pastoral leadership and lay example.

Membership will first be with the local congregation, based on baptism and affirmation of faith in Jesus Christ. As members explore, learn, and discern for themselves their spiritual paths and theological frameworks, they will be encouraged to consider membership in one of the three different denominational traditions. Many “seed” members of the congregation already have denominational ties and intend to retain them. Ordained pastoral leaders are expected to remain in complete communion and obedience to their respective church polities and governing bodies. Denominational members and ordained leaders will participate in their respective councils, synods, and judicatories. Participation in broader denominational charities, mission work, and ministries will be encouraged. And financial contribution by the whole congregation to each denomination’s national or regional judicatory will be expected.

REFERENCES

Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, Episcopal House of Bishops, 1886

1. Our earnest desire that the Savior's prayer, "That we all may be one," may, in its deepest and truest sense, be speedily fulfilled;

2. That we believe that all who have been duly baptized with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, are members of the Holy Catholic Church.

3. That in all things of human ordering or human choice, relating to modes of worship and discipline, or to traditional customs, this Church is ready in the spirit of love and humility to forego all preferences of her own;

4. That this Church does not seek to absorb other Communions, but rather, co-operating with them on the basis of a common Faith and Order, to discountenance schism, to heal the wounds of the Body of Christ, and to promote the charity which is the chief of Christian graces and the visible manifestation of Christ to the world.

Baptism, Eucharist & Ministry

…Consensus is rooted in the communion built on Jesus Christ and the witness of the apostles. As a gift of the Spirit it is realized as a communal experience before it can be articulated by common efforts into words. Full consensus can only be proclaimed after the churches reach the point of living and acting together in unity. (Preface)

BAPTISM

A. Participation in Christ's Death and Resurrection

B. Conversion, Pardoning and Cleansing

C. The Gift of the Spirit

D. Incorporation into the Body of Christ

The inability of the churches mutually to recognize their various practices of baptism as sharing in the one baptism, and their actual dividedness in spite of mutual baptismal recognition, have given dramatic visibility to the broken witness of the Church. The readiness of the churches in some places and times to allow differences of sex, race, or social status to divide the body of Christ has further called into question genuine baptismal unity of the Christian community (Gal. 3..27-28) and has seriously compromised its witness.


E. The Sign of the Kingdom

Baptism is both God's gift and our human response to that gift. It looks towards a growth into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13)… Baptism is related not only to momentary experience, but to life-long growth into Christ.

When the expressions "infant baptism" and "believers' baptism" are used, it is necessary to keep in mind that the real distinction is between those who baptize people at any age and those who baptize only those able to make a confession of faith for themselves. The differences between infant and believers' baptism become less sharp when it is recognized that both forms of baptism embody God's own initiative in Christ and express a response of faith made within the believing community.

In order to overcome their differences, believer baptists and those who practise infant baptism should reconsider certain aspects of their practices. The first may seek to express more visibly the fact that children are placed under the protection of God's grace. The latter must guard themselves against the practice of apparently indiscriminate baptism and take more seriously their responsibility for the nurture of baptized children to mature commitment to Christ.

EUCHARIST

The Eucharist is essentially the sacrament of the gift which God makes to us in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Every Christian receives this gift of salvation through communion in the body and blood of Christ. In the eucharistic meal, in the eating and drinking of the bread and wine, Christ grants communion with himself. God himself acts, giving life to the body of Christ and renewing each member. In accordance with Christ's promise, each baptized member of the body of Christ receives in the Eucharist the assurance of the forgiveness of sins (Matt. 26:28) and the pledge of eternal life John (6:51-58).

A. The Eucharist as Thanksgiving to the Father

B. The Eucharist as Anamnesis or Memorial of Christ


The words and acts of Christ at the institution of the Eucharist stand at the heart of the celebration; the eucharistic meal is the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, the sacrament of his real presence. Christ fulfills in a variety of ways his promise to be always with his own even to the end of the world. But Christ's mode of presence in the Eucharist is unique. Jesus said over the bread and wine of the Eucharist: "This is my body . . . this is my blood . . . " What Christ declared is true, and this truth is fulfilled every time the Eucharist is celebrated. The Church confesses Christ's real, living and active presence in the Eucharist. While Christ's real presence in the Eucharist does not depend on the faith of the individual, all agree that to discern the body and blood of Christ, faith is required.


C. The Eucharist as Invocation of the Spirit

In the history of the Church there have been various attempts to understand the mystery of the real and unique presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Some are content merely to affirm this presence without seeking to explain it. Others consider it necessary to assert a change wrought by the Holy Spirit and Christ's words, in consequence of which there is no longer just ordinary bread and wine but the body and blood of Christ. Others again have developed an explanation of the real presence which, though not claiming to exhaust the significance of the mystery, seeks to protect it from damaging interpretations.


D. The Eucharist as Communion of the Faithful

E. The Eucharist as Meal of the Kingdom

III. THE CELEBRATION OF THE EUCHARIST

The eucharistic liturgy is essentially a single whole, consisting historically of the following elements in varying sequence and of diverse importance: hymns of praise; act of repentance; declaration of pardon; proclamation of the Word of God, in various forms; confession of faith (creed); intercession for the Church and world;
preparation of the bread and wine; thanksgiving to the Father for the marvels of creation, redemption and sanctification; the words of Christ's institution of the sacrament according to the New Testament; the anamnesis or memorial of the great acts of redemption, passion, death, resurrection, ascension and Pentecost; the invocation of the Holy Spirit (epiklesis) on the community, and the elements of bread and wine (either before the words of institution or after the memorial, or both; or some other reference to the Holy Spirit which adequately expresses the "epikletic" character of the Eucharist); consecration of the faithful to God; reference to the communion of saints; prayer for the return of the Lord and the definitive manifestation of his Kingdom; the Amen of the whole community; the Lord's prayer; sign of reconciliation and peace; the breaking of the bread; eating and drinking in communion with Christ and with each member of the Church; final act of praise; blessing and sending.

The best way towards unity in eucharistic celebration and communion is the renewal of the Eucharist itself in the different churches in regard to teaching and liturgy. The churches should test their liturgies in the light of the eucharistic agreement now in the process of attainment.

Ministry

All members of the believing community, ordained and lay, are interrelated. On the one hand, the community needs ordained ministers. Their presence reminds the community of the divine initiative, and of the dependence of the Church on Jesus Christ, who is the source of its mission and the foundation of its unity. They serve to build up the community in Christ and to strengthen its witness. In them the Church seeks an example of holiness and loving concern. On the other hand, the ordained ministry has no existence apart from the community. Ordained ministers can fulfil their calling only in and for the community. They cannot dispense with the recognition, the support and the encouragement of the community.

The chief responsibility of the ordained ministry is to assemble and build up the body of Christ by proclaiming and teaching the Word of God, by celebrating the sacraments, and by guiding the life of the community in its worship, its mission and its caring ministry.

These tasks are not exercised by the ordained ministry in an exclusive way. Since the ordained ministry and the community are inextricably related, all members participate in fulfilling these functions... The ordained ministry fulfils these functions in a representative way, providing the focus for the unity of the life and witness of the community.


It is especially in the eucharistic celebration that the ordained ministry is the visible focus of the deep and all-embracing communion between Christ and the members of his body. In the celebration of the Eucharist, Christ gathers, teaches and nourishes the Church. It is Christ who invites to the meal and who presides at it. In most churches this presidency is signified and represented by an ordained minister.

The New Testament says very little about the ordering of the Eucharist. There is no explicit evidence about who presided at the Eucharist. Very soon however it is clear that an ordained ministry presides over the celebration. If the ordained ministry is to provide a focus for the unity of the life and witness of the Church, it is appropriate that an ordained minister should be given this task.

The primary manifestation of apostolic succession is to be found in the apostolic tradition of the Church as a whole. The succession is an expression of the permanence and, therefore, of the continuity of Christ's own mission in which the Church participates. Within the Church the ordained ministry has a particular task of preserving and actualizing the apostolic faith. The orderly transmission of the ordained ministry is therefore a powerful expression of the continuity of the Church throughout history; it also underlines the calling of the ordained minister as guardian of the faith. Where churches see little importance in orderly transmission, they should ask themselves whether they have not to change their conception of continuity in the apostolic tradition. On the other hand, where the ordained ministry does not adequately serve the proclamation of the apostolic faith, churches must ask themselves whether their ministerial structures are not in need of reform.

In churches which practise the succession through the episcopate, it is increasingly recognized that a continuity in apostolic faith, worship and mission has been preserved in churches which have not retained the form of historic episcopate. This recognition finds additional support in the fact that the reality and function of the episcopal ministry have been preserved in many of these churches, with or without the title "bishop". Ordination, for example, is always done in them by persons in whom the Church recognizes the authority to transmit the ministerial commission.

These considerations do not diminish the importance of the episcopal ministry. On the contrary, they enable churches which have not retained the episcopate to appreciate the episcopal succession as a sign, though not a guarantee, of the continuity and unity of the Church. Today churches, including those engaged in union negotiations, are expressing willingness to accept episcopal succession as a sign of the apostolicity of the life of the whole Church. Yet, at the same time, they cannot accept any suggestion that the ministry exercised in their own tradition should be invalid until the moment that it enters into an existing line of episcopal succession. Their acceptance of the episcopal succession will best further the unity of the whole Church if it is part of a wider process by which the episcopal churches themselves also regain their lost unity.

Churches in ecumenical conversations can recognize their respective ordained ministries if they are mutually assured of their intention to transmit the ministry of Word and sacrament in continuity with apostolic times. The act of transmission should be performed in accordance with the apostolic tradition, which includes the invocation of the Spirit and the laying on of hands.

In order to achieve mutual recognition, different steps are required of different churches. For example:

a) Churches which have preserved the episcopal succession are asked to recognize both the apostolic content of the ordained ministry which exists in churches which have not maintained such succession and also the existence in these churches of a ministry of episkop‚ in various forms.

b) Churches without the episcopal succession, and living in faithful continuity with the apostolic faith and mission, have a ministry of Word and sacrament, as is evident from the belief, practice, and life of those churches, These churches are asked to realize that the continuity with the Church of the apostles finds profound expression in the successive laying on of hands by bishops and that, though they may not lack the continuity of the apostolic tradition, this sign will strengthen and deepen that continuity. They may need to recover the sign of the episcopal succession.

Consultation On Christian Unity / Churches Uniting In Christ

After forty years of study and prayer through the Consultation on Church Union (COCU), the nine church members agreed to stop "consulting" and start living their unity in Christ more fully. On January 20, 2002, these churches inaugurated a new relationship to be known as Churches Uniting in Christ (CUIC).

Each communion retains its own identity and decision-making structures, but they also have pledged before God to draw closer in sacred things -- including regular sharing of the Lord's Supper and common mission, especially a mission to combat racism together. Each church also committed itself to undertake an intensive dialogue toward the day when ministers are authorized to serve and lead worship, when invited, in each of the communions.

Churches Uniting in Christ is not a new structure. It is an officially recognized invitation to live with one another differently. Christians in the pews know that we belong together because we all belong to the same Lord. Churches Uniting in Christ is a framework for showing to the world what we truly are -- the one Body of Jesus Christ.

Entering Into Churches Uniting In Christ means that the participating churches will express their relationship with one another through the following visible marks:

1. Mutual recognition of each other as authentic expressions of the one church of Jesus Christ. Specifically, this means that the participating churches will publicly recognize the following in one another:

Faith in one God who through Word and in the Spirit creates, redeems and sanctifies;

Commitment to Jesus Christ as Savior and as the incarnate and risen Lord,

Faithfulness to the Holy Scripture, which testifies to Tradition and to which Tradition testifies, as containing all things necessary for our salvation as well as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith;

Commitment to faithful participation in the two sacraments ordained by Jesus Christ, Baptism and the Lord's Supper;

Commitment to the evangelical and prophetic mission of God and to God's reign of justice and peace;

Grateful acceptance of the ministry the Holy Spirit has manifestly given to the churches.

2. Mutual recognition of members in one Baptism. This also implies recognition of the ministry all believers share in the common priesthood and from which God calls those members who will be ordained.

3. Mutual recognition that each affirms the apostolic faith of Scripture and Tradition expressed in the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, and that each seeks to give witness to the apostolic faith in its life and mission.

4. Provision for celebration of the Eucharist together with intentional regularity. This recognizes that the sacrament is at the heart of the church's life. Shared celebration of the Lord's Supper is a sign of unity in Christ. As Christians gather in all their diversity at one Table of the Lord, they give evidence that their communion is with Christ, and that they are in communion with one another in Christ. When Christians are unable or unwilling to partake together of the one Eucharist, they witness against themselves and give a visible demonstration of the brokenness of Christ's body and the human community.

5. Engagement together in Christ's mission on a regular and intentional basis, especially a shared mission to combat racism. The church engages in Christ's mission through worship, proclamation of the gospel, evangelism, education and action that embodies God's justice, peace and love. The commitment made by the members of Churches Uniting in Christ includes all of these, so that hearts and minds may be changed. The participating churches will also recognize, however, a particular and emphatic call to "erase racism" by challenging the system of white privilege that has so distorted life in this society and in the churches themselves. Indeed, this call is a hallmark of the new relationship.

6. Intentional commitment to promote unity with wholeness and to oppose all marginalization and exclusion in church and society based on such things as race, age, gender, forms of disability, sexual orientation and class.

7. Appropriate structures of accountability and appropriate means for consultation and decision-making. While some provision must be made for affecting the marks of the new relationship and for holding the churches mutually accountable to the commitments they have made, the structures developed for these purposes should be flexible and adapted to local circumstances. Apart from ongoing structures, the members of Churches Uniting in Christ may want to assemble from time to time in order to consider pressing issues and to bear witness together on matters of common concern.

8. An ongoing process of theological dialogue. Such dialogue will specifically attempt to:

Clarify theological issues identified by the members of Churches Uniting in Christ in order to strengthen their shared witness to the apostolic faith;

Deepen the participating churches' understanding of racism in order to make an even more compelling case against it;

Provide a foundation for the mutual recognition and reconciliation of ordained ministry by the members of Churches Uniting in Christ by the year 2007.

Call to Common Mission (revised Episocpal-Lutheran Agreement)

1. The Lutheran-Episcopal Agreement of 1982 identified as its goal the establishment of "full communion (communio in sacris/altar and pulpit fellowship)" between The Episcopal Church and the churches that united to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. As the meaning of full communion for purposes of this Concordat of Agreement, both churches endorse in principle the definitions agreed to by the (international) Anglican-Lutheran Joint Working Group at Cold Ash, Berkshire, England, in 1983, which they deem to be in full accord with their own definitions given in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's policy statement "Ecumenism: The Vision of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America" (1991), and in the "Declaration on Unity" of The Episcopal Church (1979). This agreement describes the relationship between our two church bodies. It does not define the church, which is a gift of God's grace.

2. We therefore understand full communion to be a relation between distinct churches in which each recognizes the other as a catholic and apostolic church holding the essentials of the Christian faith. Within this new relation, churches become interdependent while remaining autonomous. Full communion includes the establishment locally and nationally of recognized organs of regular consultation and communication, including episcopal collegiality, to express and strengthen the fellowship and enable common witness, life, and service. Diversity is preserved, but this diversity is not static. Neither church seeks to remake the other in its own image, but each is open to the gifts of the other as it seeks to be faithful to Christ and his mission. They are together committed to a visible unity in the church's mission to proclaim the Word and administer the Sacraments.