CALLED TO UNITY
17. Already in the New Testament the term ekklesia is used for the
community of those who accepted Jesus. proclamation of the Kingdom,
transmitted by apostles and disciples. In this Church their response
of faith was sealed in baptism, as they confessed their sins and
were forgiven, received the Holy Spirit, and were joined together
More specifically, ekklesia or Church is applied in the New Testament
to Christians meeting together in a house or living in the same
city. We also find the term "the Church" used in a more
universal way for the body of Christ which is the fulness of Him
who fills all in all, the communion of the saints on earth and in
All these usages of the word "Church" have continued throughout
- Christian tradition. In addition, as a result of further factors,
geographical and historical, the term came to be used in other ways.
Some of these usages arose because of diversities of language or
rite, such as Syrian Church, Coptic Church or Latin Church. Others
came about because of fundamental differences in doctrine, faith
or ecclesial polity, such as Lutheran Church, Methodist Church,
or Roman Catholic Church.
As Methodists and Roman Catholics we recognize that the divisions
underlying this last usage are contrary to the unity Christ wills
for his Church. In obedience to Him who will bring about this unity
we are committed to a vision that includes the goal of full communion
in faith, mission and sacramental life.
Such communion, which is the gift of the Spirit, must be expressed
visibly. This visible unity need not imply uniformity, nor the suppression
of the gifts with which God has graced each of our communities.