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From Columbus: Concordat with Philippine Independent Church signed

By Matthew Davies

From left to right, the Most Rev. Ignacio Soliba, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and the Most Rev. Godofredo David sign an updated version of a Concordat of Full Communion.  

[Episcopal News Service]  An updated version of a Concordat of Full Communion between the Episcopal Church and the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI, the Philippine Independent Church) was signed by its Obispo Maximo, the Most Rev. Godofredo David, and Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, as part of a June 19 reception for ecumenical and interfaith guests at the 75th General Convention.

Griswold expressed gratitude for the full-communion partners of the Episcopal Church and the churches with which it maintains on-going dialogues.

"Ultimately, the relationships between our several traditions have everything to do with what we in the Christian tradition call incarnation," he said. "Abstraction gets us nowhere, but embodiment gets us to incredible places of mutual understanding and respect, and a desire to build together and work toward a world rooted and grounded in peace."

Recognizing the variety of traditions that speak against a divisive understanding of religion, Griswold said that he is glad "we think more broadly about the faith tradition that takes us beyond the Abrahamic siblings and I am glad that many of you representing that even larger diversity are with us this evening."

First signed in 1961, the Concordat allows for mutual mission and ministry between the two churches, particularly in the American context. Sections of the agreement include partnership in congregational development, mutual accountability and collegiality, and the sharing of personnel and resources.

The updating of the Concordat was formally witnessed by the Most Rev. Ignacio Soliba, Prime Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, whose Province is working on a similar Concordat with the IFI in the Philippine context.

"Updating agreements such as these," observed Bishop Christopher Epting, ecumenical officer for the Episcopal Church, "assure that they will be living documents describing living relationships of joint mission, rather than mere historical documents lining the bookshelves of professional ecumenists."

Epting explained that the ecumenical guests at Convention are a visible symbol of the many ways in which the Episcopal Church works with other Christian and interfaith partners in mission and witness. "Through some of our international full communion partners and ecumenical dialogues through the Anglican Communion Office, we continue to strengthen the ongoing ecumenical and interfaith work of the wider Communion," he said.