Foreword to the 2002 edition – an excerpt
This book was written as a resource for the Called To Be One process through which the member churches of Churches Together in England agreed to discuss with one another the nature of the visible unity of the church, and was published in Spring 1996. The process was focussed on the July 1997 Forum held at Swanwick, Derbyshire. That Forum was attended by the representatives of Member Churches, Bodies in Association and intermediate ecumenical councils. The Report from the Forum to Churches Together in England’s governing body, the Enabling Group, is Appendix G.
The process of discerning God’s way ahead for his Church continues. July 1997 was a stage, indeed a land-mark, in the journey; other discussions and contributions to the national and international debate are listed in Appendix H. This 2002 edition is essentially a re-print of the 1996 book, and has respected its integrity and historical context. So, although some terminology and many structures have changed in the intervening six years, the text has remained untouched. The book is a much-used resource for the churches and text book for many courses. It should be seen alongside Such a feast – Spiritual nourishment and the churches (CTE 2001)…
General Secretary, Churches Together in England
Preface to the 1996 edition
by the then Presidents of Churches Together in England
What kind of church is required to bear witness to the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in our divided world today? What kind of church can help a country with racial tensions, with a growing gap between rich and poor, employed and unemployed and with a very high divorce rate? What kind of church can serve a Europe struggling to overcome the enmities of past centuries, but finding them breaking out afresh where the established order has been overthrown? What kind of church can bring reconciliation in a world in which a few powerful nations dictate the terms of trade to the poor nations, and in which ethnic and racial conflict is increasing?
As they look forward to the beginning of the third millennium of the Christian era the churches in England have realised that they cannot preach the good news that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, and expect to be believed, while they are not reconciled to one another. In 1990 therefore they committed themselves to one another under God ‘to become more fully, in his own time, the one Church of Christ, united in faith, communion, pastoral care and mission’.
What kind of unity is required if the many churches are to be more fully one? At present the divided churches are not agreed on this. Called To Be One is a first attempt to set down the various ways in which the different churches understand visible unity, to set out where their views converge and where they still diverge. It also challenges the churches to seek renewal from God, for unity cannot come without renewal. Christian unity is not only an end in itself. It is also for mission and evangelisation. Called To Be One reminds the churches that they have committed themselves to ‘common witness and service in the world’. This book, therefore, is not commending a process by which the churches turn in on themselves to seek mutual comfort in a hostile world. On the contrary it recognises that if the churches are to be more faithful and effective ambassadors of reconciliation in the world, they must no longer ignore the inherited divisions which have prevented them from being reconciled to one another, and renewed together for common witness.
Not everyone will agree with everything in this book. That is not intended. Its purpose is to start a widespread,
ecumenical discussion in all our churches, undergirded by persistent prayer united to the prayer of Jesus That they may all be one that the world may believe. We warmly commend Called To Be One to all our member churches.
Archbishop of Canterbury
Moderator of the Free Churches Council
Archbishop of Westminster
Russian Orthodox Bishop of Serviego