A COVENANT to Adopt and Implement
“The Lund Principle”
The members of the
Vermont Ecumenical Council and Bible Society (churches, denominations,
and ecclesial communities) have put to themselves the question
that has come to be known as “The Lund Principle” [The Third World
Conference on Faith and Order, Lund, Sweden, 1952]:
We have now
reached a crucial point in our ecumenical discussions. As
we have come to know one another better, our eyes have been
opened to the depth and pain of our separations and also
to our fundamental unity. The measure of unity which has
been given to the Churches to experience together must now
find clearer manifestation. A faith in the one Church of
Christ which is not implemented by acts of obedience is dead.
There are truths about the nature of God and His Church which
will remain forever closed to us unless we act together in
obedience to the unity which is already ours. We would, therefore,
earnestly request our Churches to consider whether they are
doing all they ought to do to manifest the oneness of the
people of God. Should not our Churches ask themselves whether
they are showing sufficient eagerness to enter into conversation
with other Churches, and whether they should not act together
in all matters except those in which deep differences of
conviction compel them to act separately?
We members of the
Vermont Ecumenical Council and Bible Society now consider
that we are ready to answer this question in the affirmative.
Now each and all, we covenant with one another to pursue,
help, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, full visible unity (Cf.
our Bylaws Article II) by acting together in all matters except
those in which deep differences of conviction compel us to act
separately. Here and now we pledge our persons and resources
to act toward fuller unity and urge the authorities and members
of our churches, denominations, and ecclesial bodies to do the
This Covenant is adopted with a Codicil that is inseparable
from the Covenant and which will be understood as integral
to the Covenant as an elucidation of the purpose of the Covenant
as contained in the purpose of the Vermont Ecumenical Council
and Bible Society and as one of the essential means to achieve
the Council’s purpose.
The Covenant is proposed to the
member churches, denominations, and ecclesial communities
for their reception and is subject to further and future development,
as may be adopted by the Vermont Ecumenical Council and Bible
Vermont Ecumenical Council & Bible Society Trustees
revised and approved this Covenant on March 29, 2006. The
Rev. Frederick K. Neu, President
Codicil to the Covenant
This Covenant is adopted to further
express and implement the basic purposes of the VEC & BS (Cf. Bylaws,
Article II) by subscribing to the “Lund Principle” [Third
World Conference of Faith and Order, Lund, Sweden, 1952, the
World Council of Churches]:
“Should not our Churches
ask themselves whether they should not act together in all matters
except those in which deep differences of conviction compel them
to act separately.”
- GOAL: We continue to recognize that
the VEC & BS is a representative body of Christian churches,
denominations and ecclesial communities which seeks to respond
to God’s love for us, confess Jesus Christ as Lord
and Savior, and rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit to
give us being and inspire our actions.
Further, we acknowledge
and celebrate God’s gift to us, the unity already present
among those who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and
what is revealed to us in Sacred Scripture. Furthermore,
we seek the fullness of unity which the Apostle Paul affirmed, “there
is one body and one Spirit, as there is one hope held out
call to you; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and
Father of us all, Who is over all and through all and in
4:4-6). This will be a visible unity, Christ’s body,
which is one, but encompasses a diversity of Christian traditions.
We regret our sins against this unity and understand our
present imperfect unity as contrary to the Gospel. It is
a source of sorrow for all who proclaim themselves as Christians.
We pray that our relationships in the movement toward full
unity may deepen and expand toward the day when all Christians
will be united as God wills it, visibly loving one another
and all God’s
children even as Christ has loved us.
- MEANS: We now express
the means to attain this goal.
- Internal Renewal: Each
church, denomination, ecclesial body is summoned by the
Holy Spirit to its own internal renewal and change of
heart. Wounded by sin that causes our divisions and separation,
there is continual need for personal and social reform
and purification. We must “repent
and believe in the Good News” (Mark 1:15). We must
not only know well the faith-principles of our own church
or denomination, we must live out our faith and celebrate
the gifts God has given us. Furthermore, we must know our
weaknesses and deepen our concern for full Christian unity.
- Prayer: We will increase our private and public
prayer for unity. We will pray for one another. Our love
for one another and for unity finds its most complete
expression in common prayer. Christ is present with us
when we unite to pray (Matthew 18: 20). The closer we
come to Christ in our own communities, the closer we
will come to one another.
- Dialogue: We will engage
in dialogue with one another. Ecumenical dialogue is
indispensable. It is the communication of one’s Christian
experience in Christ, both speaking and listening to
one another in love. It is not merely an exchange of
ideas. It is a process by which together we seek to transcend
our divisions by clarification of the elements of our
faith, the removal of past misunderstandings, the discovery
of new language or categories by which we express our
unity in faith. Through dialogue we discern the faith,
the context, the life and worship of partners. It presupposes
prayer and healing of memories through repentance and
mutual forgiveness. It requires patience and humility.
It is an essential part of the preparation for action
together (Lund Principle).
- Collaboration: We will
engage in practical cooperation with one another. Practical
cooperation among all Christians vividly expresses the
bond which already unites them, and it sets in clearer
relief the features of Christ the servant. Unity in faith,
though imperfect, leads to unity of action, and unity
of action leads to the full unity of faith. Through this
cooperation, all believers in Christ are able to learn
how to understand and respect each other better. In the
eyes of the world, cooperation among Christians becomes
a form of Christian witness and a means of evangelization
which benefits all involved.
- CONCLUSION: The “Lund Principle” which
endorses this practical cooperation is essential for our
ecumenical life. Yet it does not stand alone in ecumenism.
It is the outward sign and effect of renewal, prayer and
dialogue. It is the sign and test of our love for all God’s
children, Christian and non-Christian.
Implementing the “Lund
not be easy. We beg God’s help to give us the wisdom
and conviction to do it. We firmly disagree that “action
unites and doctrine divides.” We must take great care
not to abandon our Christian faith in favor of action. Truly
effective social action must have a religious center. It
must be rooted in the affirmation of God, centered on the
Gospel and radiate from a deep life of prayer. It must be
rooted in a spirituality that not only sustains the worker,
but also is grounded in true social concern. Guided always
by Christian principles, we pledge ourselves to plan and
initiate Christian service whenever and wherever our members
can, and to reach out our hand in cooperation to all those
of good will for the common good.
This is our covenant. God
bless our work together. Adopted by the members of the Vermont
Ecumenical Council and Bible Society December 14, 2005.
Telephone (802) 434-3397 ++ PO Box 764 ++Richmond,