The good ship Oikumene, its sails somewhat tattered, pulled slowly out of Montreal harbor, navigated the St. Lawrence Seaway, crossed Lake Ontario with little difficulty—cargo having been lightened by unloading of Faith and Order in Montreal—and came to port in Rochester, New York, where the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches disembarked. The natives there showed them no little kindness, but the voyage was marred by Orthodox soldiers’ shooting neoorthodox seamen in the legs to prevent their escaping overboard with definitive blueprints of the ship. For the problem of defining the ecumenical movement and the World Council had not been jettisoned in Canada but had been reloaded and marked as Rochester cargo as well.
On a quiet hilltop where Colgate Rochester Divinity School had been enjoying summer somnolence, the 100-member policy-making committee listened, in late August, as Dr. W. A. Visser ’t Hooft, able general secretary of the WCC, addressed them on “The Meaning of Membership” in the WCC. Their responses underscored the tentative nature of the address, which noted the conviction of several theologians that the experience of fellowship in the WCC has forced admission, beyond official definitions, that “the nature of the Council should be described in ecclesiological categories.” But strong objections to this conception were noted at the Montreal Faith and Order Conference on the part of Eastern Orthodox delegates especially. It was not different in Rochester.
Dr. Visser ’t Hooft cautioned against confusion of WCC’s “provisional unity” with “the unity which belongs to the Church Universal.” He disclaimed any WCC identity with Church or Super-Church, but spoke of “a deeper understanding” of the Church’s nature ...1
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