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04 November 2013

Welby leads call for renewed global Church unity

Welby leads call for renewed global Church unity

by Chine Mbubaegbu, head of media and communications, in Busan

The Archbishop of Canterbury has joined evangelical church leaders in making a renewed call for unity at a global gathering of Christians taking place in South Korea.

Attending the World Council of Churches (WCC) assembly – which represents many different denominations around the world – for the first time, Archbishop Justin Welby told delegates at the conference taking place in Busan: "We are to be one, visibly one, so that the world may believe.

"We are to be one so that the gospel we preach is not denied by the way we live in separation. We are to be one because we are more effective together than apart. We are to be one – one people worshiping one God Father, son and holy spirit, eating and drinking around the one table of the Lord, for that is Jesus's prayer for his disciples, then and for us now."

The theme of this, the 10th, WCC assembly is: "God of life: lead us to justice and peace."

Commenting on the theme, Archbishop Justin said: "When we are not at peace with God through Jesus Christ we cannot be peacemakers in the world. God calls us to be reconciled to reconcilers, reconciled ourselves to God and to each other.

Today, the WCC launched its new position statement on mission and evangelism, entitled Together Towards Life: Mission and Evangelism in Changing Landscapes.

Speaking ahead of the launch to assembly delegates, Dr Thomas Shirrmacher, executive chair of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Theological Commission, said the WEA was glad to have been part of the consultation process on the document over the past five years.

"This has resulted in a historic document where the majority of world Christianity spoke with one voice to themselves, to all Christians, as well as to the states and the world," he said. "WCC and WEA have a common experience in giving Christian unity worldwide a higher priority than furthering their own organisations. No longer are our specific organisations the main focus, but the unity of Christianity itself."

"We want to make it very clear: our interest is Christian unity. And whenever we have to discuss theological differences we want to do it in an open-minded, friendly way – and not protesting against each other."

Image by Peter Williams