A MISSION STATEMENT BY GRAHAM, GRAND PRIOR OF ALL BRITAIN
As recorded in his Gospel, St John quotes Jesus's prayer to the Father, saying:
"I pray not only for them (his disciples), but also for those who believe in me because of their message. I pray that they may be one , Father. May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they be one, so that the world will believe that you sent me." (John 17: 20-21)
"That they may be one: so that the world will believe that you sent me."
As Knights Templar we seek to demonstrate that we, as a group of Christian men and women can show, both individually and together, - as some of today's disciples of Jesus - that it is practicable to move from Competition, to Co-existence, to Co-operation, to Commitment, to Communion.
These five 'Cs' are a pilgrimage - a road or pathway - which all Christians could follow and so live out the earnest prayer of Jesus. What better mission could we (and you) have?
As long ago as Friday 4 September 1987 the then leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England, the late Cardinal Basil Hume, at the conclusion of the "Swanwick Conference" said:
"I would like to think that it is now very clear that the Roman Catholic Church is committed to the Inter-Church Process ... I hope that our Roman Catholic delegates will recommend to members of our church that we move now quite deliberately from a situation of co-operation to one of commitment to each other ... that we commit ourselves to praying and working together for Church unity, and acting together, both nationally and locally, for evangelism and mission ... I would like to see the commitment I have described becoming official policy at every level ... But we should have in view a moving, in God's name, to communion that is both visible and organic ... that 'Koinonia' ... already outlined in the Acts of the Apostles."
You may ask how it is that I know that Cardinal Hume said this. The fact is that I was there. Indeed only the day before I had been sitting on the grass at the Swanwick Conference Centre with Cardinal Hume in a small discussion group which also included The Revd Bernard Green, the then President of the Baptist Union. We were musing about how Christian Unity might be achieved, recognising that at that time there seemed to be a will behind it but no vision about how to bring it about. It happened that a few days before the Conference I had visited the Roman Catholic Cathedral near to where I lived. I picked up a leaflet there which contained those five 'C' words to describe a possible progression towards unity. At the time I was the senior Minister in a fairly new (and small) Congregational Independent Church and, though not a Baptist Minister, I was also the 'settled' part-time Pastor of an old (pre-April 1770) village Baptist Church. Cardinal Hume read the leaflet and asked whether I knew who had written it. I did not. And then, to everyone's surprise Bernard Green announced that he knew the writer personally - and he was a Baptist Minister! We all took the view that this was providential and Cardinal Hume said that he would take the words as the text for his statement (above), the following day. Praise the Lord!
Amongst other Christians at the Conference was a relatively young Roman Catholic priest, one Vincent Nichols, now the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and the present leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain.
I remain a Congregational Independent Minister (though now retired) but I am pleased to say that in the Knights Templar Grand Priory of All Britain our senior Chaplain is a Roman Catholic. Other Chaplains and Assistant Chaplains come from a variety of denominations - for example the Church in Wales (Anglican), the Congregational Federation, Old Catholic and, like our overall membership in Wales and in England, we have other members who are Church of England, Methodist, Salvation Army and otherwise. These are not issues with which we are concerned because the far more important matter is how we work together as Jesus expressed it: that we are one "So that the world will believe". Surely there can be no higher calling, vocation or mission?
Pope John Paul II made a "Call to Worship - an Invitation to Pilgrimage" saying:
"We are only pilgrims on this earth, making our way towards that heavenly kingdom promised to us as God's children. Beloved Brethren in Christ, for the future, can we not make that pilgrimage together hand in hand, bearing with one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience, doing all we can to preserve the unity of the spirit by the peace which binds us together (Ephesians 4: 2-)? This would surely bring down upon us the blessing of God our Father on our pilgrim way."
PLEASE JOIN IN THESE PRAYERS FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY
Lord, we pray for ourselves and for others who have struggled against you and against your will, wanting to decide for ourselves what is good for us, and not obeying your commands. Lord in your mercy, forgive and heal us.
We pray for churches and members who are in competition that they may experience a change of heart and of mind through the power of the Holy Spirit, and seek reconciliation. Lord, heal the memories of the past; give us a new heart and a new spirit.
Let us be deeply conscious of your presence, Lord; let us experience your action in our lives. Forgive us for the times we have not recognised you or neglected to turn to you. Thank you, Father, for your constant and loving care of us, and for all our blessings.
We pray for churches and members who barely recognise the existence of others. Fill them, Lord, with your love; inspire them to reach out to others in the power of that love.
Thank you, Lord for the wonders of your love. Thank you for calling us and choosing us to work with you and for you, to the glory of your name. You call us to share in your work of reconciliation of the whole world; you call us to be ambassadors for you. Send us your Spirit to direct our work for unity and peace.
We commit ourselves to you, Lord, not counting the cost, but surrendering every aspect of our lives to your loving wisdom and guidance. Give us that firm, unwavering trust in you, that no fear may overwhelm us but that your power may break through into our lives, and that in all things we may call upon your holy Name and praise you for ever.
We pray for resolute commitment to work together for unity, to act together for evangelisation and mission. Help us in our exploration of our faith, lead us forward in our pilgrimage, hand in hand, to our goal.
Father, you call us to deep intimate communion with you; you call us to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, you fill us with your Spirit of love. Keep us true to our covenant commitment with you and let us remain in your love.
We pray, Lord: For the fullness of unity amongst all Christians, a visible and organic unity in the Body of Christ.
We pray for fidelity in the teaching of the Apostles, the breaking of bread, fellowship and prayer.
All our prayers come to You through our Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN.
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