Friends, this is partly a self serving post. I am beginning a Doctorate of Ministry program at Wesley Theological Seminary in a few days, titled Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue. But it is also true that as we move through the liturgical seasons, I am reminded of the unity of the church that Christ brought into this world. Advent is no different. Christ brought the reconciliation of humankind and God into this world. So, as I delve into readings for this program, and also consider this message, my thoughts also turn to the role of the Church of the Brethren in the larger picture of the movement toward the unity of the church, and the ecumenical movement as a whole.

Many of you also know that this is my day job as well, working for the National Council of Churches, of which the CoB is a member communion. But just what does this mean?  What does being a member of a council of churches mean?  Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches (who spoke at this summers Annual Conference, continually insists, “the NCC is not an organization (churches) have joined; it is a covenant they have made before God with 34 other communions to mankfest the oneness that is our gift – not our achievement, but our gift – in Christ.”

So, my questions: as members of the Church of the Brethren, what does this actually mean?  What do we gain by striving for the unity of the church? What do we bring to the table? What does it mean for our unity, our oneness, to be a gift we are seeking to make manifest?