April 26, 2005
A UMNS photo by John C. Goodwin
Bishop William Oden says the church's bishops will consider provisional membership in Christian Churches Together in the USA.
By Linda Bloom*
YORK (UMNS)—The United Methodist Council of Bishops will consider
provisional membership in Christian Churches Together in the USA when it
meets May 1-6 in Washington.
William B. Oden of Dallas, the council’s ecumenical officer, told
members of the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and
Interreligious Concerns that denominational officials still have
questions regarding the new ecumenical group, particularly in regard to
participation by the traditional black churches, which are currently
the bishops have decided to consider provisional membership for the
denomination rather than observer status. “The more we looked at it, the
more we thought the United Methodists should help shape it, rather that
sit at the table without voice or vote,” Oden explained.
in 2001, Christian Churches Together is a developing organization aimed
at bringing together mainline Protestants, Orthodox, Roman Catholic,
Evangelical and Pentecostal for “expanded Christian conversation.”
will be officially inaugurated during a June 1-3 meeting at a Jesuit
retreat center in Los Altos, Calif. An inaugural worship service is
planned at Washington Cathedral in September.
said he doesn’t believe there will be a conflict between CCT and the
National Council of Churches because the new group will focus more on
fellowship and conversation than advocacy.
provisional membership, the denomination will have time to explore the
ramifications of involvement in CCT before bringing it to the 2008
United Methodist General Conference, its top legislative body, for a
vote, according to Oden.
about CCT that need to be clarified, according to the Rev. Larry
Pickens, chief executive of the Commission on Christian Unity, include
the current absence of African-American churches at the table and the
future of the NCC in relation to CCT. The roles of women and laity in
the new organization also need to be considered, he said.
during their April 21-24 spring meeting, commission members approved a
statement supporting provisional membership in CCT, noting that such
membership “provides a covenant relationship in which the United
Methodist Church can be a part of a broad ecumenical fellowship and
conversation, including associations with church partners it might not
statement joins CCT in lamenting “our often diffuse and diminished
voice on matters critical to the gospel in our society,” but also seeks
clarity about the organization’s mission and purpose in achieving “full
communion in faith, mission and sacramental life within the Body of
Christ” as well as its interest in facilitating interfaith conversation.
historic divisions in the church over race, the commission wants to
know how the CCT “will strive to be racially and ethnically inclusive.”
It asks the bishops to address concerns of the African Methodist
Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion and Christian Methodist
Episcopal churches “and ascertain their willingness to participate in
CCT in partnership with the United Methodist Church.”
statement cautions that membership in CCT “should not undermine the
work or importance of other ecumenical covenants,” including the role of
United Methodists in the National Council of Churches, Churches Uniting
in Christ and the Commission on Pan Methodist Cooperation and Union.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.