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NCC's Faith and Order Commission introduces an online forum
aimed at bringing Christians in local communities closer together

New York, June 18, 2009 – The National Council of Churches' Faith and Order Commission is introducing an online "Faith Forum" to stimulate local ecumenical dialogue and bring Christians of various traditions closer together for conversations about their faith.

"Faith Forum’s goal parallels ecumenism’s overarching goal: to foster greater unity within the Body of Christ," said Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, NCC Senior Program Director for Faith and Order. "Faith Forum recognizes that because Christ is at the center of our lives and because together we form the Body of Christ, we must engage each other precisely as Christians."

Faith Forum, on line at , offers links to three easy-to-use downloadable guides as well as to books and DVD's designed to bring lay participants into conversation with the rich spiritual and intellectual environment of faith inquiry. The forum was developed with the assistance of Juliana Mecera, an NCC intern and a recent graduate of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary.

The downloadable guides are:

The Faith Forum Program for Local Ecumenical Dialogue, a 22-page booklet for clergy and lay leaders who are interested in beginning a Faith Forum dialogue.  This booklet explains the ideas behind dialogue and the Faith Forum Program;

A Step-by-Step Guide for Leaders and Facilitators of Faith Forum Groups that takes participants through all the practical steps of starting a Faith Forum group in their local area; and

The Faith Forum Handbook for Participants in Local Ecumenical Dialogue , an easy-to-read 5-page abbreviated version of The Faith Forum Program for Local Ecumenical Dialogue. It is designed to be an introduction to dialogue for an interested parishioner.  

"One important way to foster unity in Christ is through dialogue," Kireopoulos said, "to find commonalities and to explore the nature of our differences. Therefore, the Faith Forum program provides a framework for and the resources necessary so that everyone and anyone—laity, clergy, young and old alike—can come together to discuss our most important beliefs and practices as Christians."

The 35 member communions of the National Council of Churches represent a wide diversity of histories and traditions, and the role of the Faith and Order Commission is to encourage them to talk theologically with one another.

"The churches have given the Faith and Order Commission the work of speaking together about the Gospel and our church communities in ways that will lead to healing our divisions while honoring our diversity," said Kireopoulos.

"But the work of the Commission is only part of the churches' response to Jesus' call to unity. Faith and Order is really the task of everyone in every church as we find ways to be faithfully Christian together. We think the Faith Forum will be an invaluable tool for everyone who shares this goal of unity."

The goals of the forum, and of Faith and Order, are based on Jesus prayer recorded in John 17:21: “that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me."

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) ,

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