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Called to Unity in Mission

Dialogue: Anglican-United Church
Date published: Nov. 2016
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Report on the second phase of dialogue between the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada from 2012 to 2016 compares theological and ecclesial understandings of creeds, sacraments, and orders of ministry within the two churches.

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Called to Unity in Mission

Preface from the Co-Chairs

In today’s Canada, where churches face numerous questions, a dialogue between the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada is both tremendously valuable and profoundly challenging.

Our two churches are close cousins, both in contemporary manifestations and in historical origin. We work together on many projects and live side by side one another in communities throughout the country. This proximity requires that we continually reflect on the ways that we can act in concert, even as it presses us to clarify our differences. The ongoing task is framed by the Lund Principle, which calls us to do together all that we can, acting separately only when “deep differences of conviction” compel us to do so—a principle which is itself only a contemporary formulation of the biblical means of identifying the church: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

Living out of this principle demands that we take seriously our own identities, neither maximizing the differences out of a misplaced pride, nor minimizing them in an effort to reach a too-quick accommodation. This is not an easy task, placing us as it does between the desires of people who see a need for a common response to the urgent challenges of shifting cultures and declining numbers on the one hand, and those who find the answers to these complexities in the riches of their respective denominational heritages, on the other.

The members of this dialogue have toiled as faithfully as we are able in an effort to be both honest and generous, so that members of both churches may find themselves truly represented in our discussions while simultaneously being challenged by one another to consider new possibilities.

As co-chairs, we have been deeply blessed by the extraordinary richness of collegial life experienced in this dialogue group. The loving, careful, and determined work of the members has been a true means of grace to us and, we believe, to the church as a whole. For this, we thank all who have participated. We also offer thanks to all who have hosted us or visited with us; we have met with generosity everywhere and our work is stronger for your contributions.

Perhaps most importantly, we express our appreciation to the United Church of Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada for being willing to enter into formal dialogue. We pray that this report will be a helpful step on our common journey as people of God.

Yours in Christ,

The Ven. Dr. William H. Harrison
Anglican co-chair

The Rev. Dr. Andrew O’Neill
United Church co-chair