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Call to Shared Journey

 Concordat of Recognition 

Evangelical Catholic Church
and the
United States Old Catholic Church

November 3, 2012

 

 

 

We, the Evangelical Catholic Church and the United States Old Catholic Church, recognizing and accepting each other as validly consecrated catholic and apostolic churches holding the essentials of the Catholic Faith are hereby prepared to enter into a canonically binding Concordat of Recognition to share and support our common vocation of service to the People of God. 

Within this relationship, our jurisdictions shall remain autonomous until such time that each body endeavors incardination with one another. We jointly profess the establishment locally and nationally of recognized organs of regular consultation and communication, including Episcopal collegiality, to express and strengthen the fellowship and enable common witness, life, and service. Diversity is preserved, but this diversity is not static. Neither church seeks to remake the other in its own image, but each is open to the gifts of the other as it seeks to be faithful to Christ and his mission. We are together committed to a visible unity in the church's mission to proclaim the Word and administer the Sacraments. 

 

Agreement in the Doctrine of the Faith


Our jurisdictions recognize in each other the essentials of the one catholic and apostolic faith.

We accept the Nicene-Constantinopolitan and Apostles' Creeds and confess the basic Trinitarian and Christological Dogmas to which these creeds testify. That is, we believe that Jesus of Nazareth is true God and true Man, and that God is authentically identified as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Our jurisdictions use very similar orders of service for the Eucharist, for the Prayer Offices, for the administration of Baptism, for the rites of Marriage, Burial, and Confession and Absolution. We acknowledge in the liturgy both a celebration of salvation through Christ and a significant factor in forming the consensus fidelium. We have much in common.

We believe that baptism with water in the name of the Triune God unites the one baptized with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, initiates into the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, and confers the gracious gift of new life.

We believe that the Body and Blood of Christ are truly present, distributed, and received under the forms of bread and wine in the Lord's Supper. We also believe that the grace of divine forgiveness is offered in the sacrament of Reconciliation.

We believe and proclaim the gospel that in Jesus Christ God loves and redeems the world. We share a common understanding of God's justifying grace, i.e. that we are accounted righteous and are made righteous before God only by grace through faith because of the merits of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and not on account of our works or merit. Both our traditions affirm that justification leads and must lead to 'good works'; authentic faith issues in love.

Our jurisdictions believe that the church is not the creation of individual believers, but that it is constituted and sustained by the Triune God through God's saving action in Word and Sacraments. We believe that the church is sent into the world as sign, instrument, and foretaste of the kingdom of God. But we also recognize that the church stands in constant need of reform and renewal.

We believe that all members of the church are unconditionally called to participate in its apostolic mission. They are therefore given various ministries by the Holy Spirit. Within the community of the church the ordained ministry exists to serve the ministry of the whole people of God. We hold the ordained ministry of Word and Sacrament to be a gift of God to his church and therefore an office of divine institution.

We believe that a ministry of pastoral oversight by the bishops, exercised in personal, collegial, and communal ways, is necessary to witness to and safeguard the unity and apostolicity of the church.

We share a common hope in the final consummation of the kingdom of God and believe that we are compelled to work for the establishment of justice and peace. The obligations of the kingdom are to govern our life in the church and our concern for the world. The Christian faith is that God has made peace through Jesus 'by the blood of his cross' (Colossians 1:20) so establishing the one valid center for the unity of the whole human family."

 

Agreement in Ministry

The ministry of the whole people of God forms the context for what is said here about all forms of ministry. We together affirm that all members of Christ's church are commissioned for ministry through baptism. All are called to represent Christ and his church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; to carry on Christ's work of reconciliation in the world; and to participate in the life, worship, and governance of the church.  Our jurisdictions must remain vigilant to realize the ministry of the baptized through discernment of gifts, education, equipping the saints for ministry, and seeking and serving Christ in all persons.

We acknowledge that one another's ordained ministries are and have been given by God to be instruments of God's grace in the service of God's people, and possess not only the inward call of the Spirit, but also Christ's commission through his body, the church. We acknowledge that personal, collegial, and communal oversight is embodied and exercised in both our churches in a diversity of forms, in fidelity to the teaching and mission of the apostles. We agree that ordained ministers are called and set apart for the one ministry of Word and Sacrament, and that they do not cease thereby to share in the priesthood of all believers. They fulfill their particular ministries within the community of the faithful and not apart from it. The concept of the priesthood of all believers affirms the need for ordained ministry, while at the same time setting ministry in proper relationship to the laity.

Since both jurisdictions shares a common view as to the manner of formation necessary to prepare one for Orders and Religious Profession and also the prescribed Rites to be used; we profess our recognition of clergy and religious of both jurisdictions. Both jurisdictions acknowledge that the diaconate, including its place within the threefold ministerial office and its relationship with all other ministries, is in need of continuing exploration, renewal, and reform, which they pledge themselves to undertake in consultation with one another.

The New Testament describes the laying-on-of-hands to set persons apart for a variety of ministries. In the history of the church, many and various terms have been used to describe the rite by which a person becomes a bishop. Both jurisdictions jointly agree on the term consecration.

"Historic succession" refers to a tradition which goes back to the ancient church, in which bishops already in the succession install newly elected bishops with prayer and the laying-on-of-hands. Both jurisdictions have valid orders rooted in historical apostolic succession and both jurisdictions are descendants of Bishop Jose Duarte Costa.

 

Commitment and Definition


As a result of this agreement, both churches now make the following commitment to share an Episcopal succession that is both evangelical and historic. They promise to include regularly one or more bishops of the other church to participate in the laying-on-of-hands at the ordinations/installations of their own bishops as a sign, though not a guarantee, of the unity and apostolic continuity of the whole church. With the laying-on-of-hands by other bishops, such ordinations/installations will involve prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Both churches value and maintain the ministry of episcopacy as one of the ways, in the context of ordained ministries and of the whole people of God, in which the apostolic succession of the church is visibly expressed and personally symbolized in fidelity to the gospel through the ages. By such a liturgical statement the churches recognize that the bishop serves the diocese or synod through ties of collegiality and consultation that strengthen its links with the universal church 

The Evangelical Catholic Church by this Concordat recognizes the ministers ordained in the United States Old Catholic Church as fully authentic. The Evangelical Catholic Church acknowledges that the deacons, priests and bishops of the United States Old Catholic Church minister as fully valid. 

The United States Old Catholic Church by this Concordat recognizes the ministers ordained in the Evangelical Catholic Church as fully authentic. The United States Old Catholic Church acknowledges that the deacons, priests and bishops of the Evangelical Catholic Church minister as fully valid.  

 

Interchangeability of Clergy:
Occasional Ministry, and Extended Service 


In this Concordat, our jurisdictions declare that each believes the other to hold all the essentials of the Christian faith, although this does not require from either church acceptance of all doctrinal formulations of the other. Ordained ministers serving occasionally or for an extended period in the ministry of the other church will be expected to undergo the appropriate acceptance procedures of that church respecting always the internal discipline of each church.

 

Therefore

Recognizing each other as churches in which the gospel is truly preached and the holy sacraments duly administered, we receive with thanksgiving the gift of unity which is already given in Christ.  

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers -- all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:15-20).  

Repeatedly Christians have echoed the scriptural confession that the unity of the church is both Christ's own work and his call to us. It is therefore our task as well as his gift. We must "make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3). We pray that we may rely upon, and willingly receive from one another, the gifts Christ gives through his Spirit "for building up the body of Christ" in love (Ephesians 4:16).  

We do not know to where this Concordat will ultimately lead our churches, but we give thanks to God for leading us to this point. We entrust ourselves to that leading in the future, confident that our full communion will be a witness to the gift and goal already present in Christ, "so that God may be all in all" (1 Corinthians 15:28). Entering full communion and thus removing limitations through mutual recognition of faith, sacraments, and ministries will bring new opportunities and levels of shared evangelism, witness, and service. It is the gift of Christ that we are sent as he has been sent (John 17:17-26), that our unity will be received and perceived as we participate together in the mission of the Son in obedience to the Father through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.  

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen   (Ephesians 3:20-21).

As the canonical representatives of our two jurisdictions, we hereby affix our signatures to this Concordat with faith and trust in the Holy Spirit and renewed dedication to the People of God. 

 

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Visit Photos from Signing Ceremony

 

 

National Church Office
Post Office Box 178388  Chicago Illinois  60617-8388
(T)  773-721-5383   (F)  773-721-2581

evcathchurch@evangelicalcatholicchurch.org
2012