Crossing Boundaries for the Common Good

A few years back, after the Berlin Wall had fallen, George Bush was talking about a new world order. The National Council of Churches of Christ decided that maybe the church should be in on this discussion and held a conference called "A World Made New." The meetings were being held in the Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Indianapolis.

One morning I happened to walk over to the meeting with William Sloane Coffin, a well-known liberal leader in the mainline Protestant church. As we walked up to the church doors, there was a small crowd gathered outside holding signs that said things like "NCC is the anti-Christ" and "NCC = 666." I turned to him and said, "Well, Bill, one Lord, one faith, one baptism?"

This is the witness of the mainline Protestant churches in their ecumenical efforts over the last 50 years: The belief that unity is a gift of Christ and that we ought to manifest that gift. Whether it was the international Lund conference in 1952, which called on denominations to do all things together except those they in conscience could not, or the thousands who for decades have crossed over old boundaries to celebrate worldwide Communion Sunday each year, that Protestant witness has molded the ecumenical movement.

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Sojourners Magazine May-June 1997
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