Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A. (CCT) has identified Roman Catholicism as one of five church families it wanted to attract. Now CCT has reached that goal before its official launch. U.S. Catholic bishops, meeting in Washington in mid-November, voted 151-73 to join CCT.
The new venture, which aims for a broader ecumenical participation than achieved by the National Council of Churches (NCC), plans to launch when 25 church bodies have signed on as founding participants. CCT leaders have scheduled a launch meeting for June, with an inauguration service in September at the National Cathedral (ct, April 2003, p. 25).
Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, chairman of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, urged fellow bishops to approve the proposal, calling CCT a "fresh and creative initiative to broaden the ecumenical table."
Evangelical members of CCT's steering committee called the Catholic bishops' decision highly significant.
"It's the first time in American history that you have Catholic bishops joining an ecumenical organization with Protestants and Orthodox," Roberta Hestenes, a minister at large with World Vision, told Christianity Today. "I believe one of the reasons Catholics were comfortable joining this was because of the presence of evangelicals. The same was true of the Orthodox."
Participation by the Catholic bishops, evangelicals, and Pentecostals will help assure that CCT represents a broader spectrum of Christians than the NCC has achieved, said Ron Sider of Evangelicals for Social Action.
CT interviewed Richard John Neuhaus about the decision to join Christian Churches Together.
Also available is our original coverage of Christian Churches Together: