Fear Not: God’s Love in an Anxious Age
Opening Sermon by Metropolitan Tikhon
National Council of Churches
3rd Annual Christian Unity Gathering
Doubletree Hotel/Baltimore-Washington Airport
May 4, 2016
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
I greet all of you, faithful representatives of the member communions of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, with these words of the Lord to His disciples before His Passion. I pray that all of us, who have come together for this 3rd Annual Christian Unity Gathering, will find comfort and courage in these words as we sail upon the stormy waters of this anxious age.
It was with great joy that I received the invitation from our General Secretary and President, Mr. Jim Winkler, to offer the opening sermon for this important event. It was also my pleasure to participate in the meeting of the Governing Board this afternoon and to hear first-hand of some of the accomplishments and challenges facing this organization. I am pleased to join His Grace, Bishop Demetrios, of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and other representatives of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox member churches of the National Council of Churches who are here this week.
Our gathering for Christian unity indeed comes at a time when anxiety and fear overshadow the entire world. This fear and anxiety are multiplied
when we, as Christians in the United States, are seen to be ever more divided. The historians among us may be able to point to bitter divisions in the past, but I can’t think of a time when fundamental differences over our understanding of Christian doctrine, scripture and behavior have been so widespread. The founders of the ecumenical movement could not have imagined that we would have such divisions not only between us, but within our churches as well. So one has to ask, is our gathering for Christian unity a vain and hopeless exercise in misplaced optimism? Are we just whistling past the graveyard of Christian unity?
We have cause to be anxious and all of this is reflected in the theme of our gathering: “Fear Not: God’s Love in an Anxious Age.”
You may know that Orthodox Christians have just celebrated Easter this past Sunday, so the words of our Holy Week and Paschal services are still very much echoing in our hearts and our liturgical experience of the great cataclysm of the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord continues to shake our being as we ponder the reality of Christ’s overcoming of death by His own voluntary death.
In fact, so central is this reality to our lives as Christians that this present week is known as Bright Week and is taken as one single day of Paschal celebration. How else would it be possible to process the spiritual, emotional and psychological ups and downs in our own hearts as we follow Christ through His ascents and descents? As Saint Paul reminds us:
Grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men. (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
We have experienced the joy and exhilaration of the resurrection, but also the fear of the disciples who forsook Him and fled, who denied him and even betrayed him. We have experienced the wonder and the fear of the women who came early to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus with spices, and when the angel announced to them the glad tidings of the resurrection, went out and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid.
So even at the resurrection, there was fear.
In the understanding of the Orthodox Church, the passions (such as gluttony, lust, anger, and pride) arise in the hearts of human beings when natural virtuous dispositions are perverted into ones that go against nature. Each of the passions is overcome by an opposing virtue, although the difference lies more in the disposition of one’s heart. So it is with fear. There is a fear that leads one closer to Christ and a fear that separates us from Him and from one another. St John of the Ladder writes: “He who has become the servant of the Lord will fear His Master alone, but he who does not yet fear Him is often afraid of his own shadow.”
The task of the Church, and our task as Christians, is to make manifest the will of God and to solve our problems, to address the fear that hovers over us, with the life of Christ that is within us. In another context, but one that is timely for us, a contemporary monk of Mount Athos offers these words about the challenges of our times:
“The Church is the God-man Himself. This is the fact that keep us alive. So the question is not how to provide solutions to our problems [“as the world gives”]; it is a matter of letting it become apparent how our problems are solved by the Lord who lives in us. When that happens, then peace and calm reign among all.”
And here Saint Paul’s words come to mind, which we read on Great and Holy Friday: I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Paul’s single-minded focus on Christ crucified might be what we all need to recover to answer the question about God’s love in an anxious age. Can we take the focus off ourselves? Can we turn away from the myriad of concerns that might draw our attention and decide, like Paul, to know nothing else? If we focus on Christ and Him crucified, I believe we will also be drawn together as Christians in a deep spiritual unity that defies our differences. The early Christians used the image of the spokes of wheel: the more we draw near to the center, the closer we draw at the same time to the other spokes. The Cross of Christ is our center and each of us is the spokes.
Some live the cross every day, as they have their own sufferings that make it easy to look to Christ and His Cross. They see in the crucified Savior a God who is not at a distance, a God who knows anxiety and affliction from within. A God who went into the Garden of Gethsemane wanting the cup of suffering to be taken away. A God whose sweat was like great drops of blood falling to the ground. A God who wanted his friends to stay with him and comfort him, and was disappointed when they could not. Suffering people who look at the Cross understand what it means to have a crucified Savior.
But then there’s the other side. The late Fr Thomas Hopko, who was no stranger to the National Council of Churches and the ecumenical movement, often used to quote H. Richard Niebuhr on the comfortable ethos of American Christianity which we all share: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”
To both the afflicted and the comfortable we point to Christ and His Cross. More than anything, we as Christians from various churches need to see ourselves, and be seen by others as “People of the Cross.” We may not be called to suffer as the Coptic Christians who were beheaded last year by ISIS, or by suffering Christians throughout the Middle East. But like them, we need to be seen as “people of the Cross,” by both our friends and our enemies. Who are the Christians? “People of the Cross.”
The Cross is God’s answer to fear and anxiety. The Cross of the crucified God transforms defeat into victory. This is what has united Christians from the beginning as they faced misunderstanding, opposition, and suffering. The early Christians saw Christ and the cross everywhere, especially in the pages of the Old Testament. For example, one of the most frequently cited Old Testament stories was the story in Daniel of the three holy youths in Babylon. This was also one of the earliest depictions in Christian art, in the catacombs of Rome.
The three youths refused to give in to the king’s idolatry and were thrown into a burning fire. And suddenly the astonished King Nebuchadnezzar saw them walking in the midst of the fire accompanied by a fourth person, walking with them in the midst of the flames. And said the king, “…they are not hurt, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” It took very little imagination for the early Christians to recognize the fourth man as the eternal Word of God, the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.
As we sing in the Orthodox Church on Holy Thursday:
The blessed youths in Babylon
Braved dangers for their fathers’ laws.
They ignored the ignorant command of the king.
United by a fire which did not consume them,
They sang a hymn worthy of the Almighty:
Praise the Lord, all works of the Lord!
Exalt Him throughout all ages!
“United by a fire which did not consume them.” This hearkens back to the unconsumed burning bush that Moses encountered. And it looks forward to the Cross that equally unites the disciples of Christ as they—we—face threats and anxiety in every age down to the present.
To the afflicted we say: embrace Christ and His Cross and you will find a God who accompanies you.
To the comfortable we say: embrace Christ and His Cross and your life will be shaken and overturned.
And to both we say: embrace Christ and His Cross and you will discover the transforming, death-defying love of God that cannot be taken away.
When Christ said: “Fear not” he was usually speaking to his disciples and apostles, but that means that He was speaking to the leaders, and future leaders, of the Church. So it is important for us, as leaders within our communions, to foster in our own personal lives, this certainty and this hope of the resurrection, so that we might direct our fear in the right direction, and help our flocks and communities to do the same.
There are those who would say that all religion is based on fear, but we would say, along with Saint Maximos the Confessor, that the: “Fear of God is the result of faith in God.” When we have faith in God, we fear to offend him, so we then work to overcome the passions of our heart which separate us from Him. This, in turn, leads us to bear afflictions patiently, which brings hope. “Hope in God separates us from every worldly attachment and when the intellect is detached in this way, it will acquire love for God.”
As a final reflection, I would ask us to hear again the verse with which I began but within the broader context of our Lord’s prayer in the Gospel of John, words which He uttered as a prelude to his oft-quoted verses about unity:
These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go hence.
With these words, the Lord made his way to the Cross, in which He endured the actions of those whose hearts had been overgrown with fear, hatred and anxiety. But through that ordeal, He Himself came, and brought us with Him, to the light of the resurrection.
Let me conclude with verses that the Orthodox sing throughout the Paschal season:
This is the day of resurrection.
Let us be illumined by the feast.
Let us embrace each other.
Let us call “Brothers” even those that hate us,
And forgive all by the resurrection,
And so let us cry:
Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs bestowing life.
Presented here are audio recordings of the NCC’s pre-conference workshop at Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, DC, April 15, 2016. Recordings can be accessed by either clicking on the links below, or by accessing the NCC’s weekly podcast at iTunes and Stitcher Radio.
Christians gathering at the 2016 Ecumenical Advocacy Days will be lifting their voices in support of those who are oppressed and marginalized because of racism and class. We only have to be familiar with the headlines of the past two years to know that these two ills are realities in our society on the hearts and minds of candidates and voters alike as we head toward the November elections. But what is the theological basis for our message when it comes to fairness and justice? This pre-conference workshop will analyze the Christian foundations of faith when it comes to affirming the political and economic rights of all, so that when we speak truth to power, we can know why our voice can be more than a whisper in the cacophony of voices seeking to influence policy.
- Dr. Doug Foster – Professor of Church History, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, TX
- Rev. Joyce Shin – Pastor, Swarthmore Presbyterian Church, Swarthmore, PA
- Rev. Dr. Kenneth James – Pastor, Memorial AME Zion Church Rochester, NY
- Dr. Agnes Abuom—Moderator, World Council of Churches Central Committee, Nairobi, Kenya
- Rev. Dr. Felicia Y. Thomas—Visiting Assistant Professor of History, Morgan State University , Baltimore, MD
Dr. Douglas Foster is Professor of Church History in the Graduate School of Theology and Director of the Center for Restoration Studies at Abilene Christian University in Abi-lene, Texas. He is a member of the Stone-Campbell Dialogue and serves on the Boards of Stone-Campbell International (publisher of the Stone-Campbell Journal) and the World Convention of Churches of Christ. He also serves as part of the Racial Unity Leadership Summit.
Rev. Joyce Shin is Pastor at Swarthmore Presbyterian Church in Swarthmore, PA. Joyce has represented the PC (USA) at the National Council of Churches and is a Trustee of the Parliament of the World’s Religions and Covenant Network. She majored in religious studies and classical languages at Rhodes College. Joyce received her M. Div. and Ph. D. from the University of Chicago Divinity School in theological ethics. Joyce has taught courses at McCormick Theological Seminary and The University of Chicago Divinity School in the areas of worship and ethics and the practice of ministry.
Rev. Dr. Felicia Y. Thomas is Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Morgan State University. An ordained minister in the American Baptist Churches, USA, Rev. Dr. Thomas is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York and holds the Doctor of Philosophy degree in History from Rutgers University. She also previously served on the Ministry Team at Union Baptist Church in Montclair, NJ and as Pastor at First Baptist Church in Princeton, NJ.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Q. James is Pastor at Memorial AME Zion Church in Rochester, NY. Dr. James also serves as Director of Evangelism for the Western NY Annual Conference, Secretary of the Western NY Annual Conference, Board of Trustee member of Clinton College in Rock Hill, SC, member of the Faith and Order Commission of the AME Zion Church, and a representative to the NCC for the AME Zion Church. Dr. James is a graduate of Clinton Junior College in Rock Hill, SC, Livingstone College in Salisbury, NC (BA,1980, honors), and Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, NC (M. Div., 1984, D. Min., 2006).
Dr. Agnes Abuom, from the Anglican Church of Kenya, serves as moderator of the World Council of Churches Central Committee. She is the first woman and the first Afri-can in the position in the history of the WCC. Abuom has served on the WCC Executive Committee, representing the Anglican Church of Kenya. She is also a development consultant serving both Kenyan and international organizations coordinating social action programs across Africa. Abuom was the Africa president for the WCC from 1999 to 2006. She is a co-president of the Religions for Peace and the National Council of Churches of Kenya.
Dr. Greg Carey is Professor of New Testament and has taught at Lancaster Seminary since 1999, having previously taught at Rhodes College and Winthrop University. Greg is a graduate of Rhodes College and Vanderbilt University (PhD, 1996). Greg blogs regularly for the Huffington Post religion section and is a contributing editor to the Odyssey Networks’ new lectionary resource, ON Scripture. Greg serves as co-chair of the Rhetoric and the New Testament Section of the Society of Biblical Literature.
At this time,
- Inter-communal violence is consuming Israel and the Palestinian Territories
- Terrorism and civil conflict are raining fire upon Syria and Iraq
- Horrific acts of terrorism have recently taken place in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad and many other cities around the world
- Afghanistan is sliding back into chaos
- Refugees are fleeing the region and entering Europe in large numbers with no end of suffering on the horizon
- Religious minorities are being persecuted, and sectarian strife is affecting Christian, Muslim and Jewish populations.
As we approach the celebration of the birth of Christ our hearts are filled with sorrow and fear that peace will remain out of reach in the Middle East for much longer than we could ever have imagined.
We have no illusions that establishing peace will be easy. We lament that the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine is ever more elusive and negotiations are not taking place. We pray for a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict. We call upon religious communities to build upon their historic legacies of inter-religious relationships, dialogue and action. When all these are in sight, we can envision peace. And yet such a vision seems hard to fathom today.
Still, we remain people of hope. The Lord we follow, Jesus Christ, died a violent death. But he was resurrected from the dead in the singular miraculous event that is at the core of our belief. Thus the hope of resurrection, and of the eternal life and profound peace it symbolizes, permeates our being and calls us to be vigilant in our hope for peace in the region where he lived among us.
We witness to this hope for peace with our fellow Christians in the region. We stand together with our Muslim and Jewish and other sisters and brothers of goodwill who seek peace there. As the National Council of Churches, we will continue to encourage our churches and congregations to support a renewed peace settlement as the only option. And we call upon the United States government and the United Nations to enforce previous commitments towards a just peace and do everything to ensure that a just peace has a chance to emerge from today’s chaos and destruction.
Adopted by the NCC Governing Board, November 17, 2015
Written Testimony of the
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA
Submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee
Full Committee Hearing on S.2123 The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015
October 19, 2015
For more than 63 years the NCC has been the foremost expression of Christian unity in the United States. The NCC speaks with the voice of its 37 member denominations from Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historically African American, and Living Peace Church traditions that represent 35 million Christians in over 100,000 congregations. We seek to model unity and work together to promote God’s justice, peace, and healing for the world.
The NCC has spoken out many times in the past about the need for criminal justice reform. From our statement in 1979, “Challenges to the Injustices of the Criminal Justice System”, to today’s testimony, the NCC has consistently sought to support those unfairly targeted because of the color of their skin. Today, along with our member communions and our partners in important coalitions like the Interfaith Criminal Justice Coalition, we see a glimmer of hope on the horizon.
The traditions represented in the NCC include broad representation from Black Methodist churches and Black Baptist churches whose members often find themselves entwined in an unjust criminal justice system by no fault of their own. Through our interaction with our brothers and sisters in these traditions, we are aware of the breadth and the depth of the system of mass incarceration that pervades the entirety of the justice system and inflicts pain and suffering on communities of color. Given the gargantuan size of the problem, we recognize that the legislation you are considering, S.2123, The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015, is but a partial solution. But we also recognize it is an important first step.
NCC supports the sentencing reform measures in the bill. While we support the elimination of mandatory minimums, the reductions proposed are an important step and provide real relief to many people who were subject to these harsh and unjust sentences. We welcome amendments that would further broaden the existing safety valve and/or reduce mandatory minimums and make these reforms fully retroactive.
We do not, however, support the additional mandatory minimums proposed. Mandatory minimums apply a one size fits all approach to situations which vary widely. Justice demands that these be taken on a case by case basis and that judges be allowed to apply reasonable sentences without being hamstrung by arbitrary minimums. These new minimums are not the right way to deal with the very real problems they seek to address.
We are also pleased at the numerous reforms proposed to reentry programs, juvenile justice, and other means of recidivism reduction. The juvenile record expungement provision and provision on federal criminal record accuracy are incredibly important to returning citizens who currently face immediate barriers to rehabilitation when they return to their communities. Many run in to work restrictions that make it a struggle for them to exit poverty and increase the likelihood that they will recidivate. NCC also supports the many programs proposed to enable successful reentry.
The bill also provides much needed juvenile justice reforms, but does not go far enough. Juvenile solitary confinement must be banned. Organizations such as the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, ACLU, Human Rights Watch, and Youth Law Center have documented the extreme harmful effects of solitary, particularly on juveniles. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez has testified before this very committee calling for an end to the torture of solitary confinement for juveniles. While we appreciate the limitations this bill places on its use, nothing short of its abolition – on federal, state, and local levels – will bring true justice to juveniles housed in correctional facilities.
We are also supportive of the idea of so-called “back end” sentence reductions through the use of programming and activities designed to rehabilitate people in prison. The risk and needs assessments are important tools to ensuring people in prison are not just warehoused and are truly given an opportunity to rehabilitate and re-enter society in a productive manner. Care must be taken, however, with ostensibly “objective” measures like prior criminal history. Many of these measures that appear objective are affected by a system that unjustly and disproportionately targets communities of color. Therefore what may seem to be fully objective remains fraught with bias because the system contains bias within it. Additional efforts are needed to purge this bias and to make these assessments even more accurate.
Even with the passage of this legislation, more will remain to be done. We continue to take seriously the mandate to preach release to the capitives and seek justice for all. We look forward to future discussions with all of you about ways we can further enhance these efforts to end mandatory minimums, end juvenile solitary confinement, and end the unjust targeting of communities of color and their mass incarceration. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 represents a good down payment on criminal justice reform and begins to push back against the tide of mass incarceration in the U.S. We urge the committee to pass it unanimously to honor the bipartisan efforts of so many.
We pledge our prayers for you and for the millions still incarcerated that the peace of God may be with them and guide them.
When President Obama was elected in 2008, pundits declared that the United States was entering a “post-racial era.” At an historic gathering of Methodist denominations in Washington, DC., Bishop Reginald Jackson reminded the crowd gathered that with the gross inequalities that persist, and with vicious acts of race-based violence ongoing, a new struggle for “liberty and justice for all” should be the priority of churches across America.
In a gathering of four historically African-American Methodist denominations, a clarion call to end racism was issued in a series of events in Washington, DC that concluded with a meeting at the White House on September 2nd. Leadership of the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AME Zion) Church, and the Union Methodist Episcopal (UAME) Church joined together to launch this initiative to make an end to racism a national priority.
“It seems that 239 years after our nation’s founding, and 151 years since the Civil War, we are still not ‘One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all,’” stated Bishop Reginald Jackson (AME) in his opening remarks. “It is also discrimination and bias built into laws and policies: the racism of being stigmatized and targeted because of the color of our skin…that must be confronted.”
Bishop Lawrence Reddick (CME) announced the objectives of the “Liberty and Justice for All” campaign, an agenda that includes criminal justice reform, education reform, economic justice, gun safety reform, and voting rights. “As people of faith, we believe hearts can be changed. But the problems and consequences of racism cannot, and should not, wait for changes in the heart alone,” said Reddick. “Political leaders must act to do in legislative action for fairness and equality what changes of heart may be slow to do.”
Kathryn Lohre of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, called for all Christians to join in this partnership, which touches issues at the core of the Gospel. “All of us are suffering – all of us together,” she said. “We are called first to confess and repent for our complicity in racial injustice, and then to recommit ourselves to overcoming racism in our houses of worship, and in society.
Rev. Dr. Stephen Sidorak, Ecumenical Staff Officer for the United Methodist Church, expressed his hope that the United Methodist Church would become full participants in this historic partnership of Methodist denominations.
Jim Winkler, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, brought the gathered crowd to its feet as he spoke. “Today, all Americans, whether they admit it or not, have to be prepared for the possibility each and every day they may be shot and killed or wounded, whether they are in Bible study in church, sitting in a movie theater or attending school, driving their car down the street, standing at a bus stop, or reporting on tourism for the local TV station. This is insanity. This is a crisis of faith that most houses of worship do not address in any way.”
Churches are encouraged to celebrate this coming Sunday, September 6th, as a Sunday of “Confession, Repentance, and Commitment to End Racism.” A litany has been developed for use in congregational worship and can be found at http://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/pages/litany-end-racism
This is the full audio of the press conference held by the Black Methodist Coalition on September 2, 2015, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
WASHINGTON: The National Council of Churches held its second annual Christian Unity Gathering, May 7-9, in Washington, DC with over 200 Christian leaders, scholars, activists, and ecumenists present from across the United States to focus on the NCC’s priority of interfaith peacemaking.
The NCC pursues two main areas in its ecumenical work: to build interfaith relations with an emphasis on peacemaking, and to end mass incarceration.
Leymah Gbowee, the Liberian Nobel Peace Prize winner, keynoted the Gathering and shared the powerful story of a mass movement of Christian and Muslims known as Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace that helped end the Liberian civil war that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.
Ms. Gbowee stood at the Gathering as a remarkably clear voice for women across the globe. “Do one good thing every day that everyone else is scared to do,” Gbowee proclaimed. “It is time for the Church to be crazy… like Jesus was in the Temple.”
On the evening of May 7, more than 2500 people gathered at the Washington National Cathedral for a moving worship service sponsored by the NCC commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians and His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia spoke. The homily was delivered by Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches.
Also in attendance were US Vice President Joe Biden; His Excellency Serzh Sargsyan, President of the Republic of Armenia; and His Holiness Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Supreme Head of the Syriac Orthodox Church.
Central to the Gathering was the work of the Council’s four Convening Tables. Ample time was allotted to these tables to plan and further their work in pursuit of Christian unity, advocacy for justice, interfaith relations and collaboration, and Christian education and ecumenical formation.
Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit addressed the Gathering during several key moments in the Gathering. Participating in a panel on peacemaking with Naeem Baig, President of the Islamic Circle of North America and part of the NCC’s long-standing Muslim-Christian dialogue, and Rabbi Gerry Serotta, Executive Director of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, Tveit spoke about the common theological convictions in Islam, Judaism, and Christianity that together form an interfaith imperative to work for peace and justice. He also stressed the necessity of Christian unity on behalf of all humanity, because it is only in unity that the Christian churches can ultimately proclaim the fullness of the Gospel. “Let us talk of a Christian unity that serves a wider unity of all people, all creation, unity for the sake of the world,” he proclaimed.