Magazine article The Christian Century

Shared Vision

Magazine article The Christian Century

Shared Vision

Article excerpt

TALK ABOUT unity amid diversity in the church can seem hollow, especially as people confront deeply controversial issues. The gossip in the halls of denominational assemblies recently has been about possible schisms over the issue of homosexuality. Fragmentation, not unity, seems the experience of our times.

Occasionally, however, one recognizes clearly the unity undergirding different ways of living the Christian life, the genuine "catholicity" that embraces different parties and opinions. This happened at a recent pastors' conference that comprised some self-avowedly "liberal" and some unflinchingly "conservative" pastors. The pastors differed mightily in their polities, heroes, jokes and hopes for the church's future. Yet one could perceive a unity among them, one shaped in this case by the vein form of their life as ministers of the gospel.

The pastors had a lot in common: All of them struggle to preach from the same texts. All know what it is like to preach to the same people year after year. They preside over the sacraments and celebrate the mystery at the heart of things even when discouraged. They visit the lonely parishioners whose kids don't call or who see no one but a nurse or mail carrier most days. …

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