Ecumenical partnerships and relationships of full communion

Ecumenical partnerships and relationships of full communion

The UCC's commitment to reconciliation among the separated branches of the Body of Christ includes our relationships of full communion. Among these relationships are the Ecumenical Partnership between the UCC and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Formula of Agreement (FOA) among the UCC, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Reformed Church in America. Another relationship—which aims eventually to establish full communion among nine Protestant and Anglican churches in the U.S.—is Churches Uniting in Christ (CUIC). For the first time, CUIC offers hope that full ecclesial reconciliation will be possible between historically African American and European American churches.

Full communion means that divided churches recognize each others' sacraments and provide for the orderly transfer of ministers from one denomination to another. For example, Disciples of Christ ministers frequently serve UCC congregations, and UCC ministers can be called by Disciples congregations. While full communion opens up broad possibilities for cooperation among the national and regional ministries of participating churches, it is above all in relationships between local congregations that agreements of full communion become alive.

Some of these relationships are new; others date back to earlier centuries. In 17th-century Holland, the Pilgrims (who later founded the first Congregational churches in New England) were in full communion with the French and Dutch Reformed churches. We have for decades been in full communion with the worldwide Reformed family through the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. In recent years, we have entered into bilateral relationships with the Union of Evangelical Churches (Germany) and the Congregational Christian Church in American Samoa. We are also exploring a closer relationship with the Baptist tradition through dialogue with the Alliance of Baptists.

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