I’ll try to get at this issue more precisely in a news story for www.disciplesworld.com. For now, let me ponder.

I am attending the World Council of Churches (WCC) 9th Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Last night occured the opening prayer service. Not worship. Prayer service. This is because apparently the word “worship” is too loaded for this amazingly diverse group of churches that come together to form the WCC. For many of the Orthodox churches, “worship” means something particular about THE CHURCH celebrating the eucharist, and since we cannot all share the eucharist together, (much less can we all be THE CHURCH), we must call worship something else — prayer.

Sound like hair-splitting? Yes, I think so. It is this kind of ultra-subtle theological negotiating that makes it difficult for many to understand (or care about) what the WCC is doing.

BUT I do also think an issue like this is hugely important to understanding our brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world, Christians who have widely divergent histories, ecclesiologies, and understandings and practicies of worship. If we are to be one in Christ, we must find ways to make it possible, including expanding our minds and experiences.

But as one reporter (not me!) asked in press conference this morning, if we experience the prayer service as the worship of the church, why ought not we call that. Perhaps some readers of this blog will help me as a prepare a news story.