Towards Protestant Unity
Front a Special Correspondent A service at St. Paul's last week, at which an address was given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, inaugurated the British Council. of Churches.
This Council unites in a single organisation three inter-denominational agencies which have been concerned with securing a larger measure of unity between the bodies they represented. These are the Council on the Christian Faith and the Common Life, the Commission of the Churches for International Friendship and Social Responsibility, Responsibility, and the British section of the World Conference on Faith and Order.
The new Council will consist of 112 members, representing the Church of England, various Free Churches, the Salvation Army, the Society of Friends, Unitarians and interdenominational organisations such as the Young Men's Christian Association and the Student Christian movement.
COLLABORATION—NOT A MERGING It is not to be understood, of course, that this constitutes a merging of the bodies concerned, but only collaboration for what Dr. Temple in his address described as " the search for the true foundations on which the reunion of Christendom may be accomplished."
There has been a growing desire among the various denominations represented to overcome the differences which separate them, and, in the case of certain groupia of closely related bodies, the movement has passed from the stage of discussion to that of actual achievement.
Thus, in 1925 there was formed the United Church of Canada, embracing some 1,600,000 members and adherents and including Methodists, Congregationalists and the majority of Presbyterians. Al large factor in bringing about this result was the difficulty of ministering to the scattered population of the Far West,
In 1932 was effected the union in this country of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Primitive Methodist Church and the United Methodist Church in one all-inclusive Methodist Union. The example of these bodies has stimulated the desire to effect similar resulti on a larger scale.
MISSIONARY RE-UNION Just as it was' the difficulty experienced by poorly represented bodies in evangelising the Canadian West that led to the amalgamation mentioned, so, for similar reasons, it has been in the foreign missionary field that the most successful attempts at reunion have
What is known as the Kikuyu Con-. troversy arose when a scheme of federation between various episcopal and non-episcopal missionary bodies was proposed at a conference held at Kikuyu, East Africa, in 1913, and the members of the conference representing different denominations took part in a Communion service. As a consequence of this, the Anglican Bishop of Zanzibar indicted the Bishops of two adjacent dioceses " with the grievous fault of propagating heresy."
Another iraance of ecumenical activity occurred in South India in 1919 when thirty-three ministers of the Church of India, Burma and Ceylon and the South .India United Church met and prepared a statement on Church union.
EDINBURGH CONFERENCE It is not surprising, therefore, that the genesis of the larger movement should be traced to a missionary conference. This was held at Edinburgh in 1910.
The Edinburgh Conference was followed in 1920 by the inauguration of the World Conference. on Faith and Order, which held a preliminary meeting at Geneva. The first World Conference on Faith and Order was held at Lausanne, August, 1927. A Continuation Committee was formed, and decided to ,call a second conference in 1937. This was done, and the conference met in Edinburgh, being attended by 344 delegates representing 123 churches. The ramifications of the movement thus initiated have been numerous.
The chief difficulty experienced by those participating in it, so far as this country is concerned, is that of bridging the gulf between the Church of England and the Free Churches, and this is complicated by the desire of the former to achieve closer relations with the Greek Orthodox Church. It is, therefore. interesting to find that among those taking part in the service at St. Paul's were " 44 Free Church members of the Council with nine foreign pastors, including Germanos, Archbishop of Thyateira, supported by Archimandrites Virvos and Papaconstantinou of the Greek Orthodox Church."
The Pope's special Mission Sunday blessing this year will be printed on postcards and leaflets to be distributed at Italy's churches on October 18. He mentions his " particular love for the missionaries and for the faithful whose efforts on their behalf are beyond praise."