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2008-2011 Study Groups
(click here for 2004-2007 Study Groups)

Unity in Mission
Understanding mission is perhaps the best path to unity. Mission is transformational in both personal and social dimensions of life. The implications are that the church has a prophetic vocation in the world, a calling to be an agent of transformation within the wider community of humanity that inhabits the world, without the world becoming coextensive with the church. The church is to be "in" the world without being "of" the world. What is the mission of the church in relation to and even in community with the rest of humanity? This working group will focus on the topic of "unity in mission". We will investigate various aspects of the church's mission: serving the purpose of God as a gift given to the world in order that all may believe; proclaiming the gospel in word and deed; reconciling all things to God and to one another through Jesus Christ, transforming the world; caring for those suffering and in need, suffering on their behalf; advocating on behalf of the poor, needy, and marginalized. In the power of the Holy Spirit, the church seeks faithfully to proclaim and live the love of God for all, and to fulfill Jesus Christ's mission for the salvation and transformation of the world, to the glory of God. We hope for extensive presence of theologians from non-NCCC member churches and from Baptists, both from among the NCCC-member communions and beyond, among others. We especially seek pastors and preachers, missiologists, systematic theologians, and biblical theologians.

Justification and Justice: Beyond the Dichotomies
The study continues its work for another quadrennium. What began as a response to the Roman Catholic-Lutheran World Federation Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification will now approach the topic using various denominational principles, contemporary Biblical research, and ecumenical documents. The current study group has set a series of questions to guide the future work. The present proposal is for a study that would begin by reading Scripture together, utilizing a review of appropriate materials from other dialogues as this may be helpful. A second step would be a review of pertinent developments in church history and historical theology. A third step would be consideration of how a variety of ecclesiastical cultures understand key pertinent doctrines: theological anthropology, soteriology, justification and sanctification. The choice of the term "ecclesiastical cultures" is an attempt to address dual problems in our discussion processes. While many members of the Commission directly represent churches, the number of Commissioners who represent the theological heritage of their own church or of a cluster of churches but are not directly appointed by their own church authorities is growing.

The Nature and Mission of the Church
What is this thing called the Church? Can the diverse sets of people groups that comprise the Body of Christ as one People of God say something together about its nature and mission? The WCC document, The Nature and Mission of the Church is one stage on the way to a common statement. It has been sent out from the WCC Faith and Order Commission with a request for responses in a process similar to that used regarding Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry. The request includes several specific questions: 1) Does this study document correctly identify our common ecclesiological convictions, as well as the issues which continue to divide us? 2) Does this study document reflect an emerging convergence on the nature and mission of the Church? 3) Are there significant matters in which the concerns of the churches are not adequately addressed? By studying the document together through the lens of their various traditions and contemporary ecclesiological scholarship, study group members will prepare a common response statement reflective of the experience of churches in the United States that addresses these questions. As the broadest forum of theological discussion in the United States, this study group will be particularly well-suited for expanding or challenging the material that has been set out from the text in boxes. By identifying areas where the WCC has not described all the relevant differences or has described differences that do not carry much weight in the context of the United States, it will provide a unique collective response from the region. As some NCCC member churches will be preparing separate responses during this same period, the study group will be a resource for sharing papers, setting up joint forums, and other forms of collaboration.