Churches in Britain Vow Before Queen to Work for Unity

«Very Historic Moment,» Says Anglican

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LONDON, JUNE 3, 2002 ( Leaders of all the Christian denominations in England signed a covenant in the presence of Queen Elizabeth committing themselves to working for unity, the Times reported.

The four presidents of Churches Together in England, including Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O´Connor, archbishop of Westminster, signed the document Sunday at Windsor Castle, at the end of a service marking the golden jubilee of the queen´s coronation.

The other three signatories were the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey; the Reverend Tony Burnham, moderator of the Free Churches; and the Reverend Esme Beswick, representing the smaller churches. The event began Saturday with a meeting of 25 representatives from the Church of England, of which the queen is supreme governor.

The covenant, which quotes Ephesians 4, referring to the «unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,» sets out the churches´ common belief in the triune God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In it, the leaders promise to persevere in seeking a common understanding of the Christian message of salvation, and to work toward «visible unity» of their churches. They undertake to «pray, study and work together for the unity and mission of the Church» and to speak with one voice where possible, the Times said.

Dr. Carey told BBC Radio: «It is a very historic moment in the journey of the churches. I can still recall when I started in the ministry 40 years ago a degree of elitism on the part of the Church of England. We have come a long, long way on that journey.»

Cardinal Murphy-O´Connor said: «The ecumenical path we are engaged on is a serious one. What does matter is what unites us. What divides us is still to tackle.»

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