Christian Churches Together in the USA (CCT) is a new forum that grew out of a deeply felt need to broaden and expand fellowship, unity, and witness among the diverse expressions of Christian faith today. It is a 21st century movement that is inclusive of the diversity of Christian families in the United States — Evangelical, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Pentecostals, historic Protestant, Racial and Ethnic churches. One of the things that makes CCT unique is that all five of these churches (Catholic, Orthodox, historic Protestant, Evangelical/Pentecostal and African American) are present and each person who shares in the meeting shares with each other in wonderfully personal and relaxed ways. Honestly, I know nothing else quite like it.
Christian Churches Together provides a context — marked by prayer, theological dialogue and fellowship — in which churches can develop relationships with other churches with whom they presently have little or no contact. This is one response to our Lord’s Prayer that all who believe in Him might be one with God and with one another so that the world would believe in Him as God and Savior. CCT, out of its commitment to grow closer together in Christ, offers what I believe is a significant and credible voice in speaking to contemporary culture on issues of life, social justice and peace.
When I wrote my book Your Church Is Too Small (2010) I had begun to track CCT via several friends who had helped in the founding of this new expression of ecumenism. I wrote about it as a "new model" that showed how we could pursue an ecumenism that broke ground where in the past we had not conversed as Christian leaders and churches. I honestly never dreamed that I would be personally invited to participate in a CCT gathering but I was invited to be a guest at the annual meeting last week in Memphis, Tennessee. I cannot begin to explain all that I experienced (more tomorrow) but CCT was a "highlight" week for me personally. Now ACT 3 will consider becoming a supporting member of CCT at a future meeting of our board.
Christian Churches Together began its 2012 annual meeting last Tuesday, February 14, and ended on Friday, February 17. With 85 national church leaders (African American, Catholic, Historic Protestant, Evangelical/Pentecostal and Orthodox) we visited the National Civil Rights Museum (site of Dr. King’s martyrdom), Slave Haven Museum (an Underground Railroad safe house), and the historic Mason Temple where Dr. King delivered his “Mountain Top” speech. We heard from Bishop Claire Burkat (ELCA), Dr. Bernard LaFayette (co-founder of SNCC and Freedom Rider), Dr. Albert Raboteau (Princeton), Dr. Virgil Wood (Virginia organizer for the Washington March), Dr. Jeff Farmer (Open Bible Churches), David Beckmann (Bread for the World), Dr. J. Herbert Nelson (PCUSA); Dr. Frank Thomas (Disciples), and many others as we together, men and women of many colors and ethnicities, sought to better understand and more effectively organize to combat racism and poverty in America. Tomorrow I will share the statement that we wrote together.
I hope many of you will benefit by knowing about the ministry of CCT and thus become familiar with an important new contributor to unity in the American Church.