Talk about unity amid diversity in the church can seem hollow, especially as people confront deeply controversial issues. The gossip in the halls of denominational assemblies recently has been about possible schisms over the issue of homosexuality. Fragmentation, not unity, seems the experience of our times.
Occasionally, however, one recognizes clearly the unity undergirding different ways of living the Christian life, the genuine “catholicity” that embraces different parties and opinions. This happened at a recent pastors’ conference that comprised some self-avowedly “liberal” and some unflinchingly “conservative” pastors. The pastors differed mightily in their politics, heroes, jokes and hopes for the church’s future. Yet one could perceive a unity among them, one shaped in this case by the very form of their life as ministers of the gospel.