Thursday, February 9

Church of Jesus Christ, Reconciler Vision Statement

Church of Jesus Christ, Reconciler is an ecumenical congregation seeking to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and live together as one body of Christians coming mainly from and in continued connection with the Episcopal Church, the American Baptist Churches and the Evangelical Covenant Church. We seek to be a welcoming congregation, recognizing the differences while seeking to manifest the unity of the church of Christ. Through bringing together the above three traditions we seek to be true to the faith once delivered to the saints and passed down and developed through time form Jesus and the apostles. We wish to honor, affirm and instruct new believers and committed Christians in the breadth and depth of the faith as found in our three traditions and the universal church.

We are taking the spirit of ecumenism and the discipline of Christian humility to heart in this congregation on the north side of Chicago, where we celebrate and uphold these traditions as rich and true collection of human understanding and experience of God’s redemptive work through Jesus Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, believing that only as living as one can these traditions fully and powerfully give witness to Christ and the Gospel.

We do not expect that this congregation will single-handedly effect Christian unity nor total reconciliation of our differences: denominational, class, cultural, ethnic or racial. Rather we come together weekly; around word and table seeking God in Christ as we worship together, hearing God’s Word, prayer, confession and being joined with Christ in the bread and wine of Communion. We do this acknowledging that it is only in Jesus Christ and being formed in him and transformed by faith baptism and Eucharist that there is any true reconciliation.

It is in worship – word and table – where we are invited to lay aside what divides and are joined together as the one body of Christ.

We affirm and seek the unity we are called to by Christ, following in the steps of Christians who have joined together in various ecumenical efforts and documents. Seeing these ecumenical vision as a mandate in full accord with the teach of Scripture to live in unity; with respect for our diversity (1 Cor. 12), we aim to live out these documents at the grassroots as a single congregation, weaving together as a community of faith the spiritual traditions of our three denominations and of the tradition older than ours.

Why this vision is important for the proclamation of the Gospel?

There are various indicators that the witness of our denominations, while faithful, is impaired by our separation. On the one hand, many looking to choose a “home” congregation no longer feel any pull of denominational loyalty in doing so. Others feel alienated by the necessary demands of loyalty to a particular denominational expression of Christian faith, having experienced each denomination on its own as only a partial expression of Christian faith. For those outside the faith, the lack of agreement and unity between Christian denominations is a stumbling block, allowing for easy dismissal of the truths of the Gospel. Thus we hope by living as a single community of faith from differing traditions that we will more effectively witness to Christ and proclaim the Gospel, as affirmed in the Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds.

Our worship together offers to those outside and on the periphery of the faith an example of the reconciling work of Christ, which creates the one church out of many – united as one body with many members, serving not only our particular identities but the identity of Christ our head.

We recognize this will present challenges for our denominations and ourselves. We hope to meet these challenges through worship and commitment to on going catechesis and Christian formation. We commit to teaching and sharing not only the beliefs and practices of each tradition but also showing how these traditions give witness to the one faith of the Church. The foundational element is the formation of Christian identity centered on the sacraments of baptism and Eucharist and the proclamation of the Word of God.

We see those who desire reconciliation between Christian traditions at the congregational level, those who are wounded by patterns of self-righteous exclusivity, post-Christian spiritual seekers, artists and members of other urban subcultures to be drawn to this congregation and are those we seek to reach.

We then see this ecumenical congregation as a proclamation of the universal body of Christ—the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church as a concrete 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. This we hope will be a sign and beacon of the reconciling work of God in Christ through the Cross. As such we hope to draw those who find Christ hidden by the disunity of Christians and our various claims to be church, that all may find reconciliation offered them in Christ Jesus.