Churches Uniting in Christ (CUIC, Formerly Consultation on Church Union, COCU). (United States of America)

By Best, Thomas F. | The Ecumenical Review, July 2002 | Go to article overview

Churches Uniting in Christ (CUIC, Formerly Consultation on Church Union, COCU). (United States of America)


Best, Thomas F., The Ecumenical Review


CHURCHES UNITING IN CHRIST (CUIC, formerly Consultation on Church Union, COCU): African Methodist Episcopal Church; African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; Episcopal Church; International Council of Community Churches; Presbyterian Church (USA); United Church of Christ; United Methodist Church (official "partner in mission and dialogue": Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)

On 20 January 2002 in Memphis, Tennessee (USA), during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and on the occasion of Martin Luther King, Jr, day, a new relationship began among nine churches in the United States. On that day the Consultation on Church Union (COCU), among the most venerable and enduring of the church union processes around the world, willed itself out of existence, giving way to a new form of relationship among these widely differing churches. From that date on, Churches Uniting in Christ (CUIC) has signalled a fresh vision of--and a renewed commitment to--visible union among these prominent churches in the United States.

The previous COCU plenary, held in St Louis in January 1999 as reported in the last version of this survey, (1) identified "visible marks" of participation in this ongoing church union process. These deserve to be quoted in full as an expression of commitments made by churches which, though continuing to exist in their historic denominational forms, want nevertheless to manifest more fully the unity which is given them in Christ:

Entering into Churches Uniting in Christ means that the participating churches will express their relationship with one another through the following visible marks:

1. Mutual recognition of each other as authentic expressions of the one church of Jesus Christ. Specifically, this means that the participating churches will publicly recognize the following in one another:

-- faith in one God who through word and in the Spirit creates, redeems and sanctifies;

-- commitment to Jesus Christ as Saviour and as the incarnate and risen Lord;

-- faithfulness to the holy scripture, which testifies to Tradition and to which Tradition testifies, as containing all things necessary for our salvation as well as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith;

-- commitment to faithful participation in the two sacraments ordained by Jesus Christ, baptism and the Lord's supper;

-- commitment to the evangelical and prophetic mission of God and to God's reign of justice and peace;

-- grateful acceptance of the ministry the Holy Spirit has manifestly given to the churches.

2. Mutual recognition of members in one baptism. This also implies recognition of the ministry all believers share in the common priesthood and from which God calls those members who will be ordained.

3. Mutual recognition that each affirms the apostolic faith of scripture and Tradition expressed in the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, and that each seeks to give witness to the apostolic faith in its life and mission.

4. Provision for celebration of the eucharist together with intentional regularity. This recognizes that the sacrament is at the heart of the church's life. Shared celebration of the Lord's supper is a sign of unity in Christ. As Christians gather in all their diversity at one table of the Lord, they give evidence that their communion is with Christ, and that they are in communion with one another in Christ. When Christians are unable or unwilling to partake together of the one eucharist, they witness against themselves and give a visible demonstration of the brokenness of Christ's body and the human community.

5. Engagement together in Christ's mission on a regular and intentional basis, especially a shared mission to combat racism. The church engages in Christ's mission through worship, proclamation of the gospel, evangelism, education and action that embodies God's justice, peace and love. …

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