To seek and serve the Catholic and evangelical faith of the one Church, to the end of visible Christian unity throughout the world
This is the vocation of the Anglican Communion, and the vocation of the Living Church Foundation: to serve the cause of Christian unity, by offering our selves in service to God and one another, for the sake of the world and for the salvation of our souls. There is one Christian body, called to bear the one faith and the one hope of the gospel of our Lord (Eph. 4). The ecumenical vocation of Anglicanism, our urgent responsibility under God, is to speak ever more insistently of this reality, and to orient our prayer and our passion toward its accomplishment in love, by the power of the Spirit. “We proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5).
Animated by this commitment — to uphold the inseparability of Christian truth and Christian unity — the Living Church Foundation labors to lead Anglicans to be the first to “outdo” our brothers and sisters “in showing honor” (Rom. 12:10). In continuous publication since 1878, The Living Church served throughout the 20th century as the Catholic-minded magazine of record in the Episcopal Church in the United States, in firm support of the advancing ecumenical movement and the rise of a global, interdependent Anglican Communion. Heir to this tradition in a new century and committed to its continuation, The Living Church remains focused on the whole state of Christ’s Church, amid major shifts in the landscape and culture of global Christianity, in a world riven by tribalism and tumult, earthquake and famine (Matt. 24:7). We are champions of a covenanted Anglican Communion as a means of healing the wounds of division in the body of Christ.
Based primarily in the Episcopal Church in the United States, the members of the governing Foundation and Board of the Living Church are communion-minded and -committed Anglicans from several nations, loyal to the See of Canterbury as the focus of the Anglican family.
- to pray, as Christ prayed, “may they all be one… so that the world may believe” (Jn. 17:21);
- to teach, write, evangelize, and bear witness to the truth of our faith with joy in hope, refusing to capitulate to fractiousness;
- to press forward in mission and service in cooperation with all Christians;
- to cultivate a spirit of love and respect, while boldly proclaiming the gospel;
- to produce the very best independent news reporting, incisive commentary, and edifying scholarship for a broad audience of thoughtful Christians;
- to expand our circle of readers and friends, placing The Living Church in the hands of more and more people the world over.
We invite you to join with us in our mission.
We, Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, in Council assembled as Bishops in the Church of God, do hereby solemnly declare to all whom it may concern, and especially to our fellow-Christians of the different Communions … who, in their several spheres, have contended for the religion of Christ:
- Our earnest desire that the Savior’s prayer, “That we all may be one,” may, in its deepest and truest sense, be speedily fulfilled;
- That we believe that all who have been duly baptized with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, are members of the Holy Catholic Church;
- That in all things of human ordering or human choice, relating to modes of worship and discipline, or to traditional customs, this Church is ready in the spirit of love and humility to forego all preferences of her own;
- That this Church does not seek to absorb other Communions, but rather, co-operating with them on the basis of a common Faith and Order, to discountenance schism, to heal the wounds of the Body of Christ, and to promote the charity which is the chief of Christian graces and the visible manifestation of Christ to the world;
But furthermore, we do hereby affirm that the Christian unity … can be restored only by the return of all Christian communions to the principles of unity exemplified by the undivided Catholic Church during the first ages of its existence; which principles we believe to be the substantial deposit of Christian Faith and Order committed by Christ and his Apostles to the Church unto the end of the world, and therefore incapable of compromise or surrender by those who have been ordained to be its stewards and trustees for the common and equal benefit of all.
—Preface to adoption of the Chicago Quadrilateral, American House of Bishops (1886; in BCP 1979, pp. 876-77)
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The view of the Anglican communion that has been written in more than one great instrument and presented to the Christian world has had a very marked influence in all Christendom in preparing for that day when with the guidance of the Holy Spirit all may in fact be one.
It will not be the oneness of uniformity, the oneness of a hard, unloving intention to deprive men of the natural rights of thinking and doing. It will not be a unity in which all men will agree on everything, in which thought will be stifled, in which progress will be at an end; but we hope that the unity for which corporately the Anglican Church is working and praying is that unity which may so apprehend the whole truth of Almighty God as to bring the knowledge of the truth to all the nations and tongues upon the earth. We repudiate any unity based simply upon the thought of four centuries of Church history. The only unity that is worth having is one that combines the experience of all the Christian centuries and of every Christian land and Church in a careful synthesis; a unity of the historic Church, not a new Church to be manufactured for the purpose.
—Frederic Cook Morehouse, editorial in The Living Church (April 28, 1928)
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We must never make the survival of the Anglican Communion an end in itself. The Churches of the Anglican Communion have never claimed to be more than a part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Anglicanism has a radically provisional character which we must never allow to be obscured.
—Archbishop Robert Runcie, Lambeth Conference address, “The Nature of the Unity We Seek” (1988)
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[Each Church affirms] that our common mission is a mission shared with other Churches and traditions beyond this Covenant. We embrace opportunities for the discovery of the life of the whole gospel, and for reconciliation and shared mission with the Church throughout the world. We affirm the ecumenical vocation of Anglicanism to the full visible unity of the Church in accordance with Christ’s prayer that “all may be one.” It is with all the saints in every place and time that we will comprehend the fuller dimensions of Christ’s redemptive and immeasurable love.
—Anglican Covenant 2.1.5 (2009)
W. Bertrand Stevens, Editor’s Quest: A Memoir of Frederic Cook Morehouse (New York: Morehouse-Gorham Co., 1940)
Clifford P. Morehouse, A Layman Looks at the Church (New York: Seabury Press, 1964)
Thomas A. Fraser, “On Catholic Anglicanism”
Christopher Wells, “Cross as Curriculum for Catholic Unity” (The Living Church, Nov. 29, 2009)