WORLD CONVERGENCE - COMMUNION
Non-DenominationalThe heart of our World ministry is a Communion where all types of ministries may converge with us. You do not need to lose your independence to join us. Let us all work together for God's glory. You may join us in Apostolic Succession as part of our World Communion of Christian Convergence Churches of God. We uphold Jesus as the only mediator between God and man and our only true Saviour. Jesus said... "I am the way, the truth, and the life.". and... "No-one comes to the Father except through me.". Jesus is therefore the Rock of all Ages for us.
It does not matter to us if you are of a different persuasion, or a separate Christian stream. You may be Anglican, Celtic, Methodist, Pentecostal, Baptist, Evangelical, Protestant, Charismatic, Orthodox, or simply Old Catholic (Catholic = meaning Universal Christian, Not Roman) also Brethren or Roman Catholic.
You may be Independant, or part of another Communion. You could be a Priest, Deacon, Bishop, Pastor, Monk, Nun, or just a simple Missionary overseas.
You may function in the role of an Apostle, Evangelist, Prophet, Pastor or Teacher, and no matter what way you serve God, we welcome you!
If you are Christian, then come and join us in dialogue and help to join the Church back together, as Christ called us to be truly ONE with each other!
We may share the Sacramental Eucharist (Full Communion) if you are in Apostolic Succession, in the true sense and meaning of the word. Or, we may share a simple biblical Agape (Love) feast (a Protestant ordinance of remembrance and in obedience - The Lord's Table Communion) with you or your church and hold the sacred memorial in this way. We will happily teach you the difference between the sacrament and the ordinance, if you do not know and wish to explore this area with us. We look for common ground to meet in love and to serve the Lord to His glory. Let us show you our heart for Jesus. Amen.
In effect, Jesus said... "In this you will know who are my true disciples, that you love one another.".
See the 'Relationship Styles' Page to see in what way we may relate to each other.
The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral
The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral 1886,1888
We, Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, in Council assembled as Bishops in the Church of God, do hereby solemnly declare to all whom it may concern, and especially to our fellow-Christians of the different Communions in this land, who, in their several spheres, have contended for the religion of Christ:
1.Our earnest desire that the Savior's prayer, "That we all may be one, " may, in its deepest and truest sense, be speedily fulfilled;
2.That we believe that all who have been duly baptized with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, are members of the Holy Catholic Church;
3.That in all things of human ordering or human choice, relating to modes of worship and discipline, or to traditional customs, this Church is ready in the spirit of love and humility to forego all preferences of her own;
4.That this Church does not seek to absorb other Communions, but rather, co-operating with them on the basis of a common Faith and Order, to discountenance schism, to heal the wounds of the Body of Christ, and to promote the charity which is the chief of Christian graces and the visible manifestation of Christ to the world; But furthermore, we do hereby affirm that the Christian unity... can be restored only by the return of all Christian communions to the principles of unity exemplified by the undivided Catholic Church during the first ages of its existence, which principles we believe to be the substantial deposit of Christian Faith and Order committed by Christ and his Apostles to the Church unto the end of the world, and therefore incapable of compromise or surrender by those who have been ordained to be its stewards and trustees for the common and equal benefit of all men.
As inherent parts of this sacred deposit, and therefore as essential to the restoration of unity among the divided branches of Christendom, we account the following, to wit:
1.The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as the revealed Word of God.
2.The Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian Faith.
3.The Sacraments: 7 or 2 ? The two Sacraments,--Baptism and the Supper of the Lord,--ministered with unfailing use of Christ's words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him. Many of our Churches will uphold all 7 (seven) Sacraments of the Ancient traditional Catholic (meaning Universal) Church teaching. We do not interfere with individual parishes or ministries.
4.The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of His Church. Furthermore, Deeply grieved by the sad divisions which affect the Christian Church in our own land, we hereby declare our desire and readiness, so soon as there shall be any authorized response to this Declaration, to enter into brotherly conference with all or any Christian Bodies seeking the restoration of the organic unity of the Church, with a view to the earnest study of the conditions under which so priceless a blessing might happily be brought to pass.
CONVERGENCE - Not Division
The blending or converging of these traditions is seen by those involved as the work of God the Holy Spirit imparting a spiritual operation of grace best captured in the vision of Psalm 46:5,6: " There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the Holy Place where the Most High dwells. " Thus, the "city of God" is seen as the Church, the river as the action and flow of God's Presence through His Church and the many "streams" as expressions of the one river's life that have developed or broken off from the main river through history, all of which are necessary to enrich and make glad the city with the fullness of God's life, power, purpose and Presence. These tributaries now seem to be making their way back toward the main stream.
Anglican minister David Watson once remarked that, "This break with Rome (the Reformation), although probably inevitable due to the corruption of the time, unfortunately led to split after split within the Body of Christ, with the result that the mission of the Church is today seriously handicapped by the bewildering plethora of endless denominations ... a torn and divided Christianity is, nevertheless, a scandal for which all Christians need deeply to repent" (David Watson, I Believe in the Church).
OUR HISTORY OF EMERGENCE AND GROWTH
The convergence movement seems to have strong antecedents in two major areas of spiritual and worship renewal affecting the Church in this century: the contemporary Charismatic worship renewal and the Liturgical Renewal Movement, both Catholic and mainline Protestant.
The Charismatic Renewal, began in the early 60's primarily within mainline denominations. Those in the Renewal saw a blending of Charismatic or Pentecostal elements, such as healing, prophecy and spontaneous worship and praise, with the more traditional elements of mainline (and, eventually, Roman Catholic) liturgical and reformed practices.
What some have called the "Third Wave" or "Signs and Wonders Movement" began about 1978 with the emergence of the ministry of John Wimber and the Vineyard Churches that arose through his influence. James Robison, Jim Hylton, Ray Robinson and other Southern Baptist leaders witnessed a Third Wave explosion in the "Fullness Movement," primarily impacting the SBC.
Peter Wagner and others from Fuller Theological Seminary formalized the movement through their writings and acted as a filter and focal point. The Third Wave has been described by some as an epilogue to the Charismatic Renewal, bringing together Charismatic elements of worship, experience and practice with the Evangelical tradition.
The other key influence upon CM has been the Liturgical Renewal Movement, which arose originally out of France in the Roman Catholic Church and the Oxford or Tractarian Movement in the Church of England in the 19th century.
The Liturgical Renewal caused a resurgence of interest in recapturing the essence, spirit and shape of ancient Christian worship, as practiced and understood by the early Church of the first eight centuries. Particular focus was given to the apostolic and Ante-Nicene Fathers of the ancient, undivided Church up until about 390 A.D.
The discoveries and enrichment of the theology and practice of worship and ministry from that fertile era overflowed into the mainline Protestant churches and began to have major impact upon them, as well, from the 1950's, on.
A common component in the current CM, which came from these earlier movements, is a strong sense of and concern for unity in the whole of Christ's Body, the Church. While not associated with the official Ecumenical Movement of the World Council of Churches, those involved in CM seem broadly gripped by the hunger and desire to learn from traditions of worship and spirituality other than their own and to integrate these discoveries into their own practice and experience in the journey of faith.
Indeed, many leaders in the fledgling movement describe their experience as a compelling "journey" or "pilgrimage." Many times, in very unsought-after ways, "sovereign" events, relationships, books or insights gave rise to an understanding of the church that was quite different from their previous perspectives and backgrounds.
One case-in-point is Richard Foster, a Quaker by background, whose personal pilgrimage led him to write the classic Celebration of Discipline, in which he unfolds an integrated practice of spiritual disciplines drawn from five basic traditions of spirituality in the Church through history.
As a result of his developing focus, Foster convened a conference called "Renovare", which gathered in Wichita , KS . in 1988. The conference and intended renewal were direct precursors to the "Convergence of Streams" concept.
THESE COMMON ELEMENTS OF CONVERGENCE CHURCHES
Those who are being drawn by the Lord into this convergence of streams are characterized by several common elements. While these are not exhaustive or in any order of importance, they seem to form the basis for the focus and direction of the Convergence Movement.
1. A restored commitment to the sacraments, especially The Lord's Table.
Those from the Evangelical and Charismatic streams of the church have not really emphasized the sacramental dimension of the church. In fact, for some churches, Holy Baptism and Holy Communion have been seen more as ordinances than sacraments - commands by the Lord that must be undertaken by the church, but for no other purpose than that of obedience.
From a more sacramental view, these two expressions of church life are seen as holy and sacred unto the Lord, a symbol with true spiritual meaning used as a point of contact between man and God. The Lord's presence and power is released in these acts as the worshiper encounters Him through the elements.
2. An increased appetite to know more about the early church.
For many Christians, a vacuum has existed between the pages of the New Testament and the contemporary church. This has left a disconnected Body with no historic heritage. Like a boat adrift, the church can no longer explain who she is, where she came from, or why she exists.
A recent shift in perspective has sent her searching for her roots, in order to find a common connection to the greater whole in God's Kingdom.
Studying the early church has given many an opportunity to see New Testament church principles being applied by those who were discipled by the Twelve, and their subsequent followers. These writings provide a window into an earlier time, explaining how the early church approached faith and practice, how they worshipped, and how they gave leadership to a growing movement. The bloodline of the Body of Christ can be traced through succeeding generations - seeing both the successes and failure in faith.
3. A love and embrace for the whole church, and a desire to see the church as one.
The various expressions of Christianity have remained very distinct for many years through sectarianism and denominational separatism. Convergence churches are looking beyond these artificial barriers to encourage, appreciate, and learn more about the uniquenesses found in the various bodies of faith.
Jesus' prayer in John 17 was for the church to become one... one as the Body of Christ, not through compromise of doctrine and dogma, but unity under the person of Jesus Christ - unity among our diversity. This sense of oneness does not require any church to dismiss their unique expression as Christ's Body, but calls them to appreciate and embrace the variety and beauty of the church worldwide and throughout history.
Convergence churches seem to appreciate the investment that the various streams of the Church provide. The call of CM churches is "be one," move together in portraying a people united under Christ to reach a hurting world.
4. The blending in the practices of all three streams is evident, yet each church approaches convergence from different bases of emphasis.
A church does not necessarily have to change its identity when it becomes a part of a convergence movement. Most convergence churches have a dominant base -- one particular expression of' the church that regulates the others. They can still look very Episcopalian, Orthodox, Baptist, Nazarene, independent Charismatic, etc. while expressing additional elements of worship and ministry from other streams.
With each church having a primary base, three different types of convergence churches seem to be most common today: blended churches, inclusion churches, and network churches. Blended churches have maintained their original identity, denominational connection and distinctives theologically.
From this base they then are adding elements from the other two streams in their worship and ministry practices. While most common among Liturgical/Sacramental churches, blended churches are found in Evangelical and Charismatic streams as well. Overland Park Church of the Nazarene, in the Kansas City metroplex, is distinctly involved in convergence yet remains strongly identified with its denominational heritage.
Inclusion churches are those that have gone through a metamorphosis in becoming involved in the convergence. Primarily from Charismatic or Evangelical backgrounds, these churches have found themselves so closely identifying with another stream of the Church that they have re-aligned themselves and many have even become a part of Liturgical/Sacramental denominations. Church of the King, Valdosta , GA whom we mentioned earlier in the article, is probably the best known inclusion church in recent years.
Networked churches are independent churches who have become a part of the CM and have left their former associations but have chosen to remain independent. Their connections are based on strong relationships with other like-minded churches. Most of those who are networked churches have come out of the Charismatic stream.
5. An interest in integrating more structure with spontaneity in worship.
As God's Spirit continues to move powerfully in the world, new wineskins (or structure) are required to contain the power and potential of His new wine. While most Christian futurists expected these new wineskins to be composed of more open and spontaneous churches with a de-emphasized structure, the spirit of independence present, especially in North American Christians, underlines the impression that this would be like pouring wine into a fish net.
God's holy fire is now being kindled in furnaces of faith where structures such as liturgical forms are allowing power to be imparted in churches without the fear of moving into error. Liturgies are being reintroduced into the church in order to bring a balance in worship among all the elements Scripture reveals as necessary for worshipping God in spirit and truth.
The word "liturgy" literally means the "work of the people." Through the implementation of liturgical elements, worship becomes the work of the body in praise, repentance, the hearing of the Word, and the celebration of Christ's death and resurrection.
Within these forms room can always be found for spontaneous moves of the Spirit. The historic creeds of the church - the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, etc. - are once again giving the Body of Christ the foundational roots of orthodoxy.
The Book of Common Prayer and other liturgical resources are also being blended with spontaneous praise and worship in convergence churches.
The Lord's table is being celebrated with a greater understanding of the sacredness of the event, and churches are following the Christian year and church calendar more consistently as a means of taking their people on an annual journey of faith. All of these expressions give local fellowships a greater sense of connection with the church worldwide and the church through history.
Some of us in leadership today, as in the past, have had a journey of discovery as Evangelical Christians, coming home to the true Apostolic teaching of the Catholic (not necessarily 'Roman' Church) and therefore seeing the need for the Protestant divisions and Roman Catholics to become one, once more, to seek the truth of the early Church and all its symbolism and mysticism; along with the modern mind that wishes to unveil and seek God with the heart and soul.
We need to understand our differences and problems with language between the divided true Gospel churches. In the same way we also need to learn the language of the Babylonians, in other words, the World (the unenlightened) at large today, and to have compassion that they do not know or understand Christ - This is our mission - to be one and to show that we love one another and to show the World Christ crucified for those who would accept Him as their personal Lord and saviour. Amen!
5. A greater involvement of sign and symbol in worship through banners, crosses, Christian art and clerical vestments. We also wear vestments to enact early church rites and show our committment to the way of Christ and with constitutional rituals, it serves to bring us momentarily into the past, to reflect, that we may fulfil the future with Christ.
The contemporary church has begun to reclaim the arts for Christ. In this move, the use of sign and symbol serves as a representative of a greater truth. While banners and pageantry have found a new place in the church, other symbols are showing up as well, as contact points for bringing together two realities: the outward sign or symbol and the inward or spiritual reality. Crosses and candles now adorn processionals in some churches that for years had felt pageantry would be a signature of the death of vital faith.
Some pastors are now wearing clerical collars and vestments in various services, worship settings and celebrations of the church. The collar serves as a sign of spiritual reality in being yoked with Christ, identifying with and speaking to the church as a whole, prophetically saying, "Be one!"
6. A continuing commitment to personal salvation, Biblical teaching, and to the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Some who watch this "new direction" from the Evangelical or Charismatic sidelines are still skeptical. They are concerned that convergence churches are abandoning their heritage, and that the value of Biblical infallibility and personal conversion will be lost or compromised in the pursuit of the liturgical/sacramental side of the church. Often, this concern arises out of negative prior personal experiences with certain expressions of the church or an inaccurate stereotype. Those watching from the liturgical / sacramental side are usually as concerned about their churches embracing more conservative or fundamental expressions of faith and practice.
This movement is definitely not the abandonment of a stream but a convergence. The work of God is inclusive not exclusive, bringing forth from each tributary those things which He has authenticated. Such issues as evangelism, missions, and the work of ministry by the power of the Spirit remain intact in this journey. His power continues to be released in marvelous ways in people's lives, bringing about conversion, healing, release from bondages, and life change.
The Church's rich and vital Biblical heritage in the power and primacy of the Word has been more completely undergirded as churches give more time in worship to the corporate reading of the Bible. This fulfills Paul's admonition to Timothy to "devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching, and teaching." Ironically, on Sunday mornings more Scripture is usually read in a traditional liturgical service than most Evangelical or Charismatic gatherings.
The future of the church will be greatly impacted by the convergence movement. The walls between groups and denominations are already becoming veils which can be torn open, giving those from other branches greater opportunity to experience another's faith and practice.
As the convergence movement grows, mainline denominations will find their numbers reinforced and their churches refreshed. The huge influx of people, with various levels of contact in these churches, will bring a vitality for the ancient faith that is vibrant and strong. Their intense devotion for ancient forms will be contagious, caught by those who have lost their enthusiasm.
Formal and informal educational tracks in the various streams can become much broader in scope, addressing issues that may be found in other sections of the church, such as sacramental theology and practices, rites of initiation, the work of the Holy Spirit, etc.
The Convergence Movement will also open up greater opportunities for shared facilities and ministry since the architecture and layout of churches will be conducive to the more common worship elements of the different churches. Approaches to ministry will also become more similar, allowing a greater variety of churches to work together for evangelism, discipleship, social action, and Body life.
The final verses of the Old Testament close with a promise that the spirit of Elijah will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. While these verses have been used in recent days to characterize the need to return to family values, the hope also exists that a new spirit in the church will turn the hearts of this generation of believers back toward the apostolic fathers and others who formed and fashioned vital faith in the centuries following Christ's ascension. They had envisioned and worked for a Christianity that was orthodox and durable, generation upon generation, operating in strict adherence to the revelation of Christ for His church. The church of the twentieth century is now eagerly looking back to these fathers of faith and discovering new life in the forms and structures God built in their midst.
This article, is quoted from the original article, written by a member of the House of Bishops (of the CEEC - originally established in USA) to which the World CCCC communion of Churches offer the full credit and offers full agreement to the sentiments penned here and condoned by its inclusion on this page.
God bless us all.