From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
ABCUSA: Unprecedented Alliance of U.S. Christian Groups Proposed
"SCHRAMM, Richard" <Richard.Schramm@abc-usa.org>
Thu, 6 Feb 2003 08:10:51 -0500
American Baptist News Service (Valley Forge, Pa. 2/6/03)--Christian Churches
Together in the U.S.A., a fledgling coalition of representatives from 30
denominations, last week formally affirmed a proposal to create the broadest
alliance of Christian bodies ever in the U.S. The gathering, held last week
at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., included more than 60
participants. The Rev. Rothangliani Chhangte, American Baptist Churches USA
director of Ecumenical Formation, attended.
The agreed purpose statement finalized at the meeting was: "The purpose of
Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A. is to enable churches and
organizations to grow closer together in Christ in order to strengthen our
Christian witness in the world."
The organization's steering committee soon will invite other national church
bodies and agencies to join the effort. Organizers envision Christian
Churches Together in the U.S.A. as representing five segments of U.S.
Christianity: "Evangelical/Pentecostal, Historic Protestant, Orthodox,
Racial/Ethnic and Roman Catholic.'' The new alliance would include groups
that acknowledge "Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior according to the
Scriptures [and] worship and serve One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.''
Calling the meeting "a remarkable breakthrough," the Rev. Wesley
Granberg-Michaelson, steering committee chair and chief executive of the
Reformed Church in America, said organizers had "gathered a wide
representation of the Christian churches in the U.S.A. and were able to
inspire them into making a deep commitment together.''
According to Chhangte, "It was a remarkable meeting not only because it
brought together such a diverse group of Christians together, but the fact
that at the end of two-and-a-half days of meeting we were able to come up
with a proposed statement that was agreeable to everyone and would become a
basis for forming this new coalition. Given the diversity of theological
perspectives present in the conference, many of us were skeptical about the
outcome of the meeting. However, God is able to do more than all we can
ask or imagine. Most of the participants and observers present were very
open to what each had to say and enabled the Holy Spirit to work among us in
an amazing way. I would like our American Baptist Churches to continue to
pray the prayer of Jesus in John 17, that all who believe in Him might be
one with God so that the world will believe in Him as God and Savior."
The proposal being sent to potential participating bodies notes that
initially the alliance likely would focus on common worship, fellowship, and
dialog on members' similarities and differences. At a later stage the
alliance would seek to address social issues, "speaking to society with a
common voice, whenever possible'' and sponsoring forums for addressing those
Organizers of Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A. first met in
September 2001 "to listen and to seek the guidance of God on whether all who
confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior according to the scriptures
can talk together about how to share with the world our common confession of
Chhangte and American Baptist Churches USA General Secretary A. Roy Medley
were among 34 U.S. evangelical, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Mainline Protestant
and Roman Catholic church leaders who affirmed a statement in April 2002
calling for "an expanded Christian conversation in our nation." The
religious leaders at that time noted: "We are Christians who long for
greater unity. It is our longing which most clearly points us toward
'something new' as a possibility for the churches in the United States. We
celebrate the unique traditions, gifts and charisms of our respective faith
communities. We also acknowledge that when our differences create
unnecessary divisions, our witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ is
distorted. We offer our lamentations and longings with prayerful
expectation that the Holy Spirit is moving us toward a new expression of our
relationships with one another and our witness to the world...."
American Baptist News Service: Office of Communication, American Baptist
Churches USA, P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851; (800)ABC-3USA x2077
/ (610)768-2077; fax: (610)768-2320; www.abc-usa.org;
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