When your church joins together with other local churches for a prayer service, or if your congregation partners with another local church to run a summer Bible school, you’re connecting with the larger family of Christian churches.
The same kinds of relationships are built between denominations. In the Christian Reformed Church, it is the members of the Interchurch Relations Committee who, on behalf of the rest of us, meet with leaders of other denominations, building relationships, making connections.
This small but industrious group, appointed by synod (the annual gathering of delegates from across the CRC), doesn’t get much attention between synods. But these people travel the world connecting the CRC with other Christian churches.
That’s called ecumenical relations, defined by Merriam-Webster as “promoting or tending toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation.”
Locally and denominationally, we find areas of cooperation, acknowledge differences, and always seek the unity in the body of Christ that the apostle Paul calls for in his letter to the Ephesians: There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph. 4:4-6).
The CRC seeks that unity and cooperation first and foremost with other Reformed churches, denominations that share our Reformed “accent” in how we interpret the Scriptures.
But the CRC also relates to evangelical churches and historic or mainline churches, including the Roman Catholic Church.
In the coming months, this column will explore some of those relationships and the ecumenical charter that guides them.
Next month: Our new ecumenical charter.