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GENEVE, Aug. 30, 2017 /Christian Newswire
/ -- The 44th conference of the International Ecumenical Fellowship (IEF) has released a "Declaration of Wittenberg: We walk towards the visible unity of the Church," a statement that culminates the week-long assembly, held 21-28 August.
The theme of the conference was "From the True Treasure of the Churches – Discovering the Gospel Together."
The declaration observes both the 50 years the IEF has existed, and the 500 years that have passed since the Reformation. "Since its founding in 1967, the IEF has sought to instil in its members a yearning for unity," reads the declaration. "With joy, we celebrate the unending work of promoting bridges of dialogue and encounter, the mission to heal wounds, to reconcile and to witness together our faith in Christ."
The declaration challenges people to transform a painful history of conflict and indifference into a journey of reconciliation and unity.
"Through our own history of 50 years, we have tried to contribute to this journey and will continue to do so," the declaration continues. "But we cannot advance without recognizing each other as brothers and sisters."
The assembly agreed that, more than ever, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a common treasure, that brings churches to continuous conversion, reform and renewal. Those gathered also thanked God for the spiritual gifts they received through sharing meals, prayers, songs and ecumenical dialogue.
"Through our togetherness, we experience acute pain for not being able always to celebrate the Eucharist in communion with each other," the declaration reads. "Nevertheless our joy is great when, under certain circumstances church leaders offer eucharistic hospitality."
The assembly expressed its intention to improve ecumenical relationships by working as Christians together to foster Christian values in a secularised society, to welcome and support immigrants and refugees, and to promote justice and peace and the integrity of creation.
"In this new beginning we are convinced that visible unity in reconciled diversity is more than ever the ultimate Christian goal that our Lord prayed for," concluded the declaration. "To realise this goal we commit ourselves to explore new means, new ways, new generations, new countries."
"An extraordinary chance" for hope, Tveit reflects in Wittenberg (WCC press release 25 August, 2017)
Wittenberger Ökumenische Versammlung 2017
Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace