“That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one, all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, even in Him”.
We as member Churches and Ecumenical Organizations of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka, confess our common faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Holy Scriptures and together seeking to fulfil our common Calling in obedience to the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, affirming that we are all part of the one body of Christ, commit ourselves to faithfully strive to become the one visible Church fulfilling the High Priestly Prayer of our Lord “That they all may be one”. We also realise that, the essential tasks of the Church in Sri Lanka is to manifest the Reign of God in its life and mission and in this way to effectively commend the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the island. We also recognize that healthy relationships amongst all our Churches and Ecumenical Organizations as well as transparent methods of mission are of great importance if this task is to be accomplished. Comity may be defined as the spirit of comradeship and fair dealing which is the fruit of Christian courtesy and common sense. The object of this statement is to set out the principles of Comity and their application to Christian work and witness in our country.
We have always to keep in mind that active co-operation between the Christian bodies in Sri Lanka is our purpose, and not merely their smooth working in isolation. We must aim at making full use of our total resources. We must find ways and means of doing together all those things that deep differences do not compel us to do separately. We are dealing not merely with organizations but with the living work of God; and we must seek so to plan, that whatever power it may please God to release shall not be hindered by our lack of readiness to hear and alertness to change.
Basis of Agreement
We, the member Churches of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka and its Constituent bodies agree to co-operate with one another and work together on the following bases:
a) Recognise the members of the Constituent Churches of the NCCSL as full members of the body of Christ and not endeavouring to effect their transfer from one Church to another. In instances where for a good reason an individual or a family, may wish to transfer membership in an area where two or more Churches already co-exist, this shall be done subsequent to a conversation between the party concerned and the respective Ministers/Presbyters.
(a) Though our doctrines and practices vary, there will be active mutual respect exercised in respect of these and in respect of the integrity of all Churches.
(b) Where a member of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka is formerly present and recognised, other member Churches will refrain from duplicating a formal Christian presence within a radius of 4 Km and in places where there is already such a presence of more than one church, the relevant Churches will endeavour to act together to achieve the primary objects of Comity.
(c) If a member church begins work anywhere in the island where no other Church affiliated to the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka is present, the Heads of other Churches should be kept duly informed.
(d) undertake to respect the discipline of one another’s Churches and not receive clergy or laity who are under the discipline of their own Churches into our church. To avoid lapses in this regard the respective receiving denomination should ensure adequate checks and balances in their selection procedures that will prevent persons under discipline in one Church from being received for ministry in another.
In commending this statement of Comity to the Christian bodies in Sri Lanka, the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka wishes to add that Comity will be kept faithfully and Joint Action for mission enhanced, as workers and members of different Churches strengthen Christian Fellowship with one another. They should strive to meet regularly and not only when differences arise. They should
also strive to learn of each other’s views and aspirations through friendship and consultation.
The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka adds that besides taking all opportunities for acquaintance and consultation, the leaders and members of different Churches should from time to time seek to come together in common worship, study discussion and joint retreats. Such gatherings will undoubtedly become opportunities for grace and blessings from God, the author of all goodness and wisdom.