How OSL member ‘The Bay Church’ is encouraging Oneness throughout the community.Continue reading
With over 33,000 Christian denominations and streams worldwide, it’s a fair question. Why do we need ‘something else’?
The simple answer is that OSL isn’t ‘something else’ – it’s a vision to resource, connect and value what we already have.
The vision to ‘re-open the old wells’ was about many things; some things we understood at once, others which have become clearer over time and development. Yet still, we know that OSL’s purpose will continue to develop in its interaction with more members, partners and friends as the years progress.
OSL is not about ‘something else’. It’s about bringing together, and resourcing, what’s already here. It’s about a global acceptance that there will always be things upon which Christians disagree; scriptural interpretation, doctrinal structure; the hows and whys of how we worship, pray, celebrate and reach out to the unsaved.
So, OSL’s vision is to work counter-intuitively to this. This isn’t about moving memberships from one place to another. Nor to see church ministers and leaders seeking OSL as an alternative to their current denomination. This isn’t about changing people’s minds and working against the Kingdom. This is about an acceptance that, as Christians, there are details of faith and practice that will vary by culture, denomination and stream.
This is where we accept that and move on – together. Because that which connects us is far greater and more powerful. Our collective faith, good works, vision for the lost, our resources and capacity (when we consider 33,000 streams and independent churches) is vast. OSL provides an opportunity for everyone to come together and share these resources – to ‘come to the well’. In this way, OSL adds to the Kingdom.
Churches Together in England
When we applied for membership of Churches Together, we came not as a denomination but as a lifestyle – a collective of people and churches that wanted to work together. We are the only member of Churches Together that is not a denomination. We are the only member that does not require transition from one to another in order to participate with us. In fact – we’re the opposite. We actively want you to stay within your own church, your own community, your own denomination. Because this brings the richness and diversity that is so vital in reaching the lost on both a global and a local level. What this meant for smaller, independent churches, was a level playing field – the chance to connect with the other churches in their towns and cities, by virtue of their membership of OSL – affording them their own belonging to Churches Together and the opportunity to participate on a local level.
The Insight of Africa
When we launched OSL in 2009 the first people to capture the spirit of the vision were in the African nations. Churches representing 5 million people in Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, Uganda and Burundi joined the Order and came together to celebrate the opportunity to connect and network between them. Bishops travelled across borders, people journeyed many days from their home churches to congregate and worship. So quick was this growth that a local executive was formed – the Community of St Leonard, with bishops representing the Order’s members in Africa, based in Kenya. To this day, Bishop Isaaka Wawire and Bishop Raphael Buluma of the Community of St Leonard in Kenya work closely with OSL in the UK to ensure the continued development of OSL in Africa.