Wounded Visions: Unity, Justice, and Peace in the World Church after 1968

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May our Lord Jesus Christ grant him health, strength, and long life, in order to continue his ministry, with the same dedication and the same fervor, for the glory of God and the advance of the common effort for Christian Unity. Wishing you all good things, we bestow upon you and your colleagues in WARC our Patriarchal blessings.

Wounded Visions: Unity, Justice, and Peace in the World Church after 1968

For many years Rev. Kirkpatrick has been a wise and conscientious partner in ecumenical relations. He has always kept at the forefront of his ministry his faith in Jesus Christ and a commitment to Christian unity, so that they may all be one, … that the world may believe John As he completes his term as president of WARC, we at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity are deeply grateful for his friendship and the many occasions we have had to work together. May the Lord continue to bless his ministry and his life.

Such a figure is Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick. Strongly rooted in his own Reformed tradition, he has engaged that tradition in the common striving for the visible expression of our oneness in Christ, and through his leadership much progress has been made. Therefore I want to seize the opportunity of expressing to you my deep appreciation for your long and dedicated service to the ecumenical movement, both at home and on the worldwide level. During the period of your presidency of the WARC, you guided the Alliance through at least two very significant processes, the Accra meeting of the General Council, with its prophetic statement on globalization; and the bringing together of the Alliance and the Reformed Ecumenical Council.

We all have received significant inspiration from you, and I will always be grateful for the personal support and encouragement that you have given to me. May God continue to bless you as you prepare for a new period of life in which you are liberated from institutional responsibilities and constraints.

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I send greetings to Dr. Kirkpatrick as he comes to the end of his term as WARC president. Dr Kirkpatrick has given impressive leadership both within his own church and also within the wider ecumenical movement, in the United States and on the world stage. His contribution to the work of the World Council of Churches and in particular his contribution to the Central Committee has been important and an inspiration to many. May his vision and commitment to the visible unity of the church be passed on to those in the Reformed tradition and to others in the ecumenical movement.

It was my good fortune to work with you in WCC committees between and , where your knowledge, experience, and commitment to ecumenism along with your innate wisdom were invaluable. In the midst of often difficult discussions, you spoke to the point with contributions that brought new perspectives to the situation. Your friendly, good-natured approach made you a delight to be with. Blessings in your retirement. I have come to know Clifton Kirkpatrick as a person who is deeply committed to the Lord we serve, to the Reformed heritage we share, and to the gift of unity the global church has received.

subtbardedis.tk There is no greater honor we can bestow on this servant of God than to affirm his significant contribution to the advancement of the name of Jesus Christ as the head of the church. His stature and his title were impressive! Warm and direct personality, he was the bridge between the old Reformed churches in Europe and the Presbyterian churches of America and the unifier of the Reformed churches around the world.

Thanks, dear Clifton, for what you did for the Jubilee. I rejoice to exchange with you about this wonderful project. The ecumenical movement at all levels, in all times and places could count on Cliff Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick not only believed in the unity of the church and the renewal of our human community. He also lived it. I have known Cliff for nearly thirty years. His steady, visionary leadership piloted the ecumenical ship over treacherous waters. Those of us in leadership remain eternally grateful for his courage and commitment. True to the gospel of Christ, to the Reformed Tradition, and to the ecumenical movement, you have lived and served the one God, who created all the earth and this wonderfully diverse humanity that is the human family.

From our work together within the Presbyterian and Reformed family and in the ecumenical life of the NCC, I have been honored to know you and to call you friend, brother, and colleague.


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Thank you for your generous spirit, your personal support and friendship, your ecumenical heart, and your steadfast endurance along our arduous journey into the unity already given us in the very fabric of creation. Grace and peace, now and always. He again lays down the end of our happiness as consisting in unity, and justly; for the ruin of the human race is, that, having been alienated from God, it is also broken and scattered in itself. The restoration of it, therefore, on the contrary, consists in its being properly united in one body, as Paul declares the perfection of the Church to consist in believers being joined together in one spirit and says that apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors were given, that they might edify and restore the body of Christ, till it came to the unity of faith.

Wherefore, whenever Christ speaks about unity, let us remember how basely and shockingly, when separated from him, the world is scattered; and, next, let us learn that the commencement of a blessed life is, that we be all governed, and that we all live, by the Spirit of Christ alone. When we speak of a blessed and happy life, if we heed the comments of the Genevan Reformer, we are to be restless and all the while uncomfortable so long as there is this scattering and disunity in the human family, most especially the brokenness and fragmentation that plagues the body of Christ, a division that the Reformed tradition is far too familiar with over the last five hundred years.

The inauguration of the World Communion of Reformed Churches in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in June , with the union of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Reformed Ecumenical Council, marks an important milestone in the modern ecumenical movement for visible unity in the body of Christ, expressing our common faith as people of God and a joint commitment to work for justice in the world.

What is being celebrated and inaugurated is a communion of churches. The church is not the Trinity, and so therefore we will never be uniform in our beliefs and actions. This volume seeks to advance the conversation of what it means to live into communion for the sake of justice in the world, working for the visible unity of the people of God, and giving the common expression of faith that has already been gifted to us by the triune God. The challenge before the World Communion of Reformed Churches is also a grand opportunity for our collective reflection and action: how do we genuinely live out the call to be a communion of churches for the sake of justice in the world today?

May it be so! To begin that conversation, the twenty-seven contributors in this book approach that question from the. And I can see clearly that there is a deep-seated longing for belonging to Christ and to one another.

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With his life, ministry, suffering, death and resurrection, Christ is an embodied and lasting promise that his self-offering for all, out of love, has a future. This is the source and binding cord for all in the fellowship. We do not live by and for ourselves but out of the divine love for others. This provides strength to pursue the pilgrimage of justice and peace together, even in the sight of very different living conditions, deep societal and economic rifts, totalitarian political systems and rising populist tendencies.

The responsibility and tasks ahead of us are enormous. Therefore, in order to achieve our ambitious goals of transformation for the common good of all, as churches and Christian institutions, we need to clarify the shared values on which we stand. What are the attitudes that bind us as a koinonia of love? I would like to highlight three dimensions that have become important in my ministry and in the encounters with churches and partners across the world. First, I have experienced how crucial it is that we define this koinonia from an attitude of mutual accountability [3]. We have to articulate, share and learn from one another in which way we respond to the divine gift of love, how it transforms our relationship to one another and our worldview.

This includes the capacity to listen with openness and respect but entails also constructive critique and self-criticism, as well as the articulation of firmly-grounded convictions as a consequence of our shared faith. It must be reflected in telling the truth to one another and in together telling truth to power, as well as by establishing reliable and long-lasting relations so that our common efforts for transformation in our midst and in the world can bear fruit.

This by far is not only a question of professionalising ecumenical relations but first and foremost, a matter of the credibility of the fellowship whose capacity to practice love and reconciliation within itself will have a decisive impact on dialogues with others. This leads me to the second dimension.

How can we continue and grow in our expression of being a fellowship embracing diversity? One of the most challenging, and at the same time enriching, lessons to learn in the ecumenical movement consists in comprehending more clearly how koinonia as fellowship of love grows out of a double root — the common, universal witness in Christ and the way this witness is translated in particular cultural contexts and faith practices.


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  • I believe that genuine transformation can only derive from recognizing this double bind and from embracing diversity as a gift from God in whose image we all have been created. The costly discipleship of the fellowship of love is perhaps most tangible with regard to the struggle of the Christian family on issues that divide churches in their theological and ethical interpretations, for example with regard to human sexuality.

    I am also reminded of M. True unity in Christ, he emphasized, has to come from inner transformation and must accommodate diversity. Third, we need an attitude of pilgrims. The pilgrimage of justice and peace, which the World Council of Churches has launched as an overall concept for its current work period and as an invitation to all churches and partners, is developing more and more as an encouraging and uniting symbol for the fellowship. There is much hope in such a koinonia of love. Being part of the body of Christ means partaking in the joys and pains of the other and, through lived faith and action, striving to effect transformation.

    This is so because Christians in India, as Christians in all parts of the world, do not remain indifferent to the sight of suffering humanity and creation. The unity of the churches and the unity of humanity are held together by the cross and the resurrection. Following Christ demands concrete action as a consequence of our faith in him and his mission of reconciliation.

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    In many contexts we observe the destructive and long-term effects of violence and armed conflict on the population, particularly the most vulnerable such as women and children. The churches have most importantly joined hands in demonstrating how an ecumenical solidarity around locally embedded initiatives for peace and justice are significant signs of encouragement and empowerment. The ecumenical visits to prioritized countries such as Burundi, Colombia, Egypt, Nigeria and several others during the past years stand for this commitment to contribute to peaceful communities through signs of visible companionship in visits, participation in acts of public witness of the churches, and regular communication in statements on developments in this regard.

    The unique momentum for peace on the Korean peninsula certainly gives vivid illustration of how the concerted determination of the fellowship for peace bears fruit. Our service — our diakonia — for justice and peace is also rooted in common rights-based actions alongside our ecumenical partners, particularly specialised ministries and ACT Alliance, and with civil society actors.

    Another very profound historic, theological and strategic reflection process on ecumenical diakonia — the significance of service in the world — was presented earlier this year. However the Central Committee wanted the document to be elaborated further, bringing more contributions from our different faith traditions. I am also thinking of the example of the Ecumenical Water Network in which representatives of churches worldwide take it as their responsibility to advocate for the universal right to water and thereby for the improvement of living conditions of people and ultimately for their survival.

    It brings to our attention how we have to also understand the ecumenical movement as a fellowship that revisits its relationship with creation. Standing before you at this prestigious and historic place of higher education and of theological education in particular, which Serampore College and its many affiliated institutions represent for India and across Asia, is awe-inspiring. It reminds us how transformation in the perspective of love takes a particular meaning.


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    • William Carey, Joshua Marshman and William Ward, who laid the foundation for this institution in , left an important legacy that has been carried forth, developed and contextualized since then by generations of eminent Indian scholars and theological educators. They understood education from the outset as holistic mission. Formal instruction alongside spiritual formation bore then, as it does today, the potential for transformation of the whole of existence and of being in the world. The scholarship that Serampore College promotes in India and beyond symbolizes not only a change of individual lives, but more importantly represents a consequent advocating for freedom and justice, which reaches into local communities and churches.

      This remains an important ecumenical stimulation for societal transformation and for implementing love as part of a comprehensive faith formation. In the ecumenical movement today, education is the most decisive factor determining the longevity of the vision of unity. Serampore College, as many theological institutions in other parts of the world, serves as a vital model for promoting inclusive, contextual and ecumenical formation that aims at transformation in a holistic sense.

      We experienced with the Global Ecumenical Theological Institute GETI — the theological education programme for young ecumenists in accompaniment of the World Mission Conference in Tanzania in March this year — that emerging theologians are eager to serve as ambassadors of an ecumenical movement of love in their contexts and on the global level. In my encounter with them, I heard their questions about how to make their voices more audible and their participation more visible in the fellowship. This is not merely a question of representation, but how much we trust in the future of the ecumenical movement.

      Young people such as those who participate in the annual Youth in Asia Training for Religious Amity organized by the WCC are already passionately engaged in peacebuilding and transformation of their societies. They do so because they realize that their present and their future will be shaped by the capacity of all to bridge the divides, coming closer to one another and working together.

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