The Common Good
September-October 1997

Working for Visible Unity

by C. Douglas Smith | September-October 1997

I MUST ADMIT that I am perplexed by the recent article on
the ecumenical movement ("All Together Now!" by Jim
Wallis, May-June 1997).

I MUST ADMIT that I am perplexed by the recent article on the ecumenical movement ("All Together Now!" by Jim Wallis, May-June 1997). You characterize that the World Council of Churches’ "reasons for coming together had to do most with missions and service" when founded in 1948. Though the diakonal work of sharing and service has always maintained an important role in the ecumenical movement, I believe that the "goal of visible unity" as mentioned in the WCC’s present Common Understanding and Vision process is the primary reason for the WCC’s existence.

The most perplexing observation, however, is that your article made no mention of Orthodox Christianity. The modern "ecumenical movement" has not been "a relationship almost solely among mainstream Protestant churches" as you mistakenly suggest. Rather the Orthodox churches have been one of the major voices in the WCC that calls for Christians to work together. But then again, perhaps I understand what you call the "Real ecumenism of the last 25 years taking place in soup kitchens more than at the tables of theologians" to be a direct result of the last 50 years of the church working for visible unity in its life and work together, which includes all flavors of Christians at different times.

It should be the hope of all of us that the "rich mosaic" interconnecting us in the 21st century will be one where the quest for justice brings us closer to unity, and our unity will give us a louder prophetic voice to call for justice.

Sojourners relies on the support of readers like you to sustain our message and ministry.

Like what you're reading? Get Sojourners E-Mail updates!

Sojourners Comment Community Covenant

I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the Sojourners online community, especially toward those with whom I disagree, even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)

I will express my disagreements with other community members' ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)

I will not exaggerate others' beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)

I will hold others accountable by clicking "report" on comments that violate these principles, based not on what ideas are expressed but on how they're expressed. (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15)

I understand that comments reported as abusive are reviewed by Sojourners staff and are subject to removal. Repeat offenders will be blocked from making further comments. (Proverbs 18:7)