“Eucharist” from “The Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry” Document of the WCC—Faith and Order Paper No. 111

World Council of Churches

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is an international Christian ecumenical organization. In 1937, church leaders agreed to establish a World Council of Churches, based on a merger of the Faith and Order Movement and Life and Work Movement organisations. The outbreak of World War II deferred its official establishment until August 23, 1948.

Current WCC member churches include most of the Orthodox Churches; numerous Protestant churches, including the Anglican Communion, some Baptists, many Lutheran, Methodist, and Reformed, a broad sampling of united and independent churches, and some Pentecostal churches; and some Old Catholic churches.

The Roman Catholic Church, is not a member of the WCC, but has worked closely with the Council for more than three decades and sends observers to all major WCC conferences as well as to its Central Committee meetings and the Assemblies. The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity also nominates 12 members to the WCC’s Faith and Order Commission as full members.

The Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry Document of the World Council of Churches Faith and Order Paper No. 111

The World Council of Churches has a Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry document which presents the common understanding of the Eucharist on the part of the generality of “Christians”.

The Eucharist is described as “essentially the sacrament of the gift which God makes to us in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit”, “Thanksgiving to the Father”, “Anamnesis or Memorial of Christ”, “the sacrament of the unique sacrifice of Christ, who ever lives to make intercession for us”, “the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, the sacrament of his real presence”, “Invocation of the Spirit”, “Communion of the Faithful”, and “Meal of the Kingdom”.

Excerpts on the Preface from the Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry—Faith and Order Paper No. 111

    “The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches…[which] represent a rich diversity of cultural backgrounds and traditions…striving together to realize the goal of visible Church unity.

    “…the stated aim of the Commission is “to proclaim the oneness of the Church of Jesus Christ and to call the churches to the goal of visible unity in one faith and one eucharistic fellowship…” (By-Laws).

    “…to achieve the visible unity…one of the essential prerequisites is that they should be in basic agreement on baptism, eucharist and ministry…

    The three statements are the fruit of a 50-year process of study stretching back to the first Faith and Order Conference at Lausanne in 1927…

    Between the Plenary Commission meetings, a steering group on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry has worked further on the drafting, especially after September 1979 under the presidency of Frère Max Thurian of the Taizé Community.

    “…In the process of growing together in mutual trust, the churches must develop…until they are finally able to declare together that they are living in communion with one another in continuity with the apostles and the teachings of the universal Church.

    “…the Commission also includes among its full members theologians of the Roman Catholic and other churches which do not belong to the World Council of Churches itself.

Excerpts from the Eucharist Section of the Faith and Order Commission; Lima text (1982) to the churches.

I. The Institution of the Eucharist

    1…the eucharist is a sacramental meal which by visible signs communicates to us God’s love in Jesus Christ…Its celebration continues as the central act of the Church’s worship.

II. The Meaning of the Eucharist

    2. …Every Christian receives this gift of salvation through communion in the body and blood of Christ. In the eucharistic meal, in the eating and drinking of the bread and wine, Christ grants communion with himself…In accordance with Christ’s promise, each baptized member of the body of Christ receives in the eucharist the assurance of the forgiveness of sins…and the pledge of eternal life…

    A. The Eucharist as Thanksgiving to the Father
    4. “…For the world which God has reconciled is present at every eucharist: in the bread and wine, in the persons of the faithful, and in the prayers they offer for themselves and for all people…

    The eucharist thus signifies what the world is to become…a universal communion in the body of Christ, a kingdom of justice, love and peace in the Holy Spirit.

    B. The Eucharist as Anamnesis or Memorial of Christ
    13. “…the eucharistic meal is the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, the sacrament of his real presence…The Church confesses Christ’s real, living and active presence in the eucharist…

    C. The Eucharist as Invocation of the Spirit
    14. The Spirit makes the crucified and risen Christ really present to us in the eucharistic meal…The presence of Christ is clearly the centre of the eucharist…

    D. The Eucharist as Communion of the Faithful
    20.    The eucharist…is a representative act of thanksgiving and offering on be-half of the whole world…All kinds of injustice, racism, separation and lack of freedom are radically challenged when we share in the body and blood of Christ.

    Through the eucharist the all-renewing grace of God penetrates and re-stores human personality and dignity. The eucharist involves the believer in the central event of the world’s history.

    As participants in the eucharist, therefore, we prove inconsistent if we are not actively participating in this ongoing restoration of the world’s situation and the human condition…

    E. The Eucharist as Meal of the Kingdom
    26. As it is entirely the gift of God, the eucharist brings into the present age a new reality which transforms Christians into the image of Christ and therefore makes them his effective witnesses. The eucharist is precious food for missionaries, bread and wine for pilgrims on their apostolic journey…

III. The Celebration of the Eucharist

    28. The best way towards unity in eucharistic celebration and communion is the renewal of the eucharist itself in the different churches in regard to teaching and liturgy…

    31. As the eucharist celebrates the resurrection of Christ, it is appropriate that it should take place at least every Sunday. As it is the new sacramental meal of the people of God, every Christian should be encouraged to receive communion frequently.

Link to WCC churches
Not all the churches in this list are members of the World Council of Churches. WCC member churches are identified by an asterisk.

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