Friday, 29 July 2011

Global Digital Library for Theology and Ecumenism

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The World Methodist Council is one of fourteen founding members of a Consortium for a global digital library for theology and ecumenism.  The project was started out of the concern to develop capacities for higher education and theological knoweldge transfer and sharing between churches in the North and churches in the Global South.

The Global Digital Library on Theology and Ecumenism (GlobeTheoLib) is to be launched in September 2011. Planned in collaboration with the World Council of Churches and its Programme on Ecumenical Theological Education (ETE), GlobeTheoLib will support and enable well-equipped participation in the teaching of theology, the generation of ecumenical and intercultural perspectives and the formation of a new generation of ecumenical leaders in contextual theologies, World Christianity and interreligious dialogue.
Using the platform of, GlobeTheoLib is the first step in a programme to complement the existing Global Digital Library on Ethics Library with other specialised libraries, such as on Philosophy and on Islam.

GlobeTheoLib aims to:
  • use new digital models of information exchange to create greater visibility for theological knowledge and insights from churches of the global South;
  • make use of information and communication technologies to counter imbalances in global theological education systems;
  • respond to the needs of theological colleges, faculties and institutes of growing churches in the global South for quality resources for theological education and research;
  • overcome barriers to accessing existing digital content providers;
  • promote understanding of the diverse expressions and understandings of Christianity worldwide; and
  • foster theological exchange within and between countries and regions.
GlobeTheoLib is a project of and is supported by a consortium whose founding institutions are and the World Council of Churches.

An exact date for the launch has yet to be announced.
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Thursday, 28 July 2011

Authorisation of Ministers of Other Churches

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Yesterday, I introduced the supplementary ecumenical report, presented to Methodist Conference on 7 July 2011.  Then I focused upon the legislation to amend Standing Orders to enable ecumenical partnerships in extended areas.

The supplementary report also included legislation to enable sharing of ministry with ministers of other traditions.  Resolution 60A/4 reads:
The Conference adopts the recommendations in paragraphs 13-16 of the Supplementary Ecumenical Report and directs the Methodist Council, in consultation with the Faith and Order Committee, to undertake further work to clarify, develop and open up new ways in which people exercising authorised ministry in a Church with which the Methodist Church has a close partnership, where that Church-to-Church partnership is embodied in local partnerships, can be automatically granted recognition and authorisation to serve in and on behalf of the Methodist Church.
The paragraphs alluded to in the resolution, read as follows:
13. The Deed of Union and Standing Orders currently provide for those ordained in other Churches to be recognised and regarded as admitted into full connexion with the Conference, or authorised to serve the Methodist Church as a presbyter or deacon, or granted the status of associate presbyter or deacon.

14. Paragraphs 92-96 of the report Moving Forward in Covenant make suggestions of ways in which those provisions could be further clarified and developed so that where the Conference is in a close partnership with the equivalent authorities of another Church, and that partnership is then embodied in some local expression of it, such as a Covenanted Partnership in an Extended Area or a United Area of the Methodist and United reformed Churches, presbyters and deacons of the other Church should automatically be granted an appropriate status and authorisation without the need for the detailed vetting of individual applications by a number of different bodies.

15. It is also proposed that it be made possible for those granted the status of associate presbyter and deacon to be authorised to serve as Associate Superintendents or Chairs of District. As Associate Superintendents and Associate Chairs they would not have responsibility for or control over Methodist resources or governance bodies, which would remain autonomous. However they would be able to co-discern, co-decide and co-deploy the resources of their own Church and cofulfil their own responsibilities together with the Methodist Superintendent and Chair.

16. The Methodist Council concluded that, if viable, such developments would be of benefit in many ecumenical situations. It has therefore recommended that the Conference commission the necessary explorations of the issues with a view to any resulting proposals being brought to a future Conference.
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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Ecumenical Report at Methodist Conference 2011

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I have in earlier posts (starting here) covered the main ecumenical report to Conference.  Conference considered this report and a supplementary report at the debate on Thursday 7 July (this link includes a video of the debate).

The supplementary report addresses further issues around the interim report of JIC2, and some of the original resolutions in the main report have been amended or added to.

So, Conference approved a new resolution 60A/2 (replacing Resolution 60/3):
The Conference receives the Interim Report of the Joint Implementation Commission entitled “Moving Forward in Covenant”, commends it for study and directs the Faith and Order Committee and the Methodist Council to consider the issues raised in it.
This is followed by a resolution to amend Standing Orders to enable ecumenical partnerships in extended areas.  I won't copy those here as they are fairly repetitive - they're at the end of the report if you want to check them out.  I reproduce here those parts of the supplementary report that provide the rationale for the amended Standing Orders:
8. Some circuits and districts have already sought to create local expressions of the Covenant with the Church of England or establish other partnerships with partner Churches in their area. It is interesting to note that, as indicated in Moving Forward in Covenant, such a step is already being sought by the relevant authorities of the Church of England, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church in the geographic area of Cumbria.

9. The Methodist Church is engaged in a growing number of different types of ecumenical partnership in the various parts of the Connexion with a variety of other Churches. Some rough categories for those partnerships can be defined as follows:
(a) Church to Church (i.e. denominational) partnerships;
(b) district-wide or other regional embodiments of (a);
(c) other district-wide or regional partnerships;
(d) circuit-wide or other partnerships involving a number of local Methodist churches;
(e) formal Local Ecumenical Partnerships [of which there are a number of sub-types, and which normally have detailed constitutions].

10. In each case it is important to establish who in the Methodist Church needs to know about the partnership; who needs to approve the form of the partnership; and who in the Methodist Church in Britain is committed to what in the partnership. This has not always proved easy. There are varying levels of authority or permission for the different types of partnership in the foundational documents of the Church, Standing Orders, and Resolutions of the Conference. Irrespective of whether regulation of them is a good thing or bad thing, there are varying levels of regulation.  There are varying levels of connectedness [i.e. “connexion”] between the varying partnerships; and it is not always completely clear who in the Methodist Church in Britain is committed to what within them.

11. It is important that (without becoming over-regulatory or too bureaucratic) clarity is sought about these matters as steps are taken to implement the Ecumenical Vision Statement adopted by the Conference of 2009, with its encouragement to live in and develop ecumenical partnerships. It is also important to ensure that any such partnerships are not suffocated by additional bureaucracy, whilst at the same time ensuring that they are ‘connexional’ in the sense of being coherent across the whole of the Connexion. At the moment, Standing Orders only provide for local ecumenical partnerships (LEPs) and require that each of them has a full-blown constitution that is vetted and approved at both district and connexional levels of the Church [eg Standing Orders 334, 412 and 434]. The underlying model seems to be that of a single congregation LEP, which by its very nature requires a formal and detailed constitution.

12. The Methodist Council has therefore recommended that some minor amendments need to be made to Standing Orders to enable extended covenanted partnerships or other types of partnership over extended areas to be formed to facilitate the sharing of mission and ministry without the need for additional constitutions or extended vetting procedures. A resolution to this effect is set out below.
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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Ecumenical Significance of the King James Bible

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The Society for Ecumenical Studies
‘Towards the Unity of Christians through dialogue, study and mutual understanding’
The Ecumenical Significance of the King James Bible
A lecture to be given by

Professor Pauline Croft MA (Oxon) DPhil. FSA FRHistS
Professor of Early Modern History, Royal Holloway, University of London
The Chapel of
Methodist Central Hall
Monday 26th September 2011
6.30 p.m.- 8.00 p.m.
(Refreshments from 6 p.m.)
Invitation is by free ticket, please apply to

This lecture is part of the ongoing programme of the society, membership of which is open to all.
For details of membership and activities please go to the website at
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Monday, 25 July 2011

Points of Convergence on the Unity of the Church

Nicene Creed in cyrillic writingImage via Wikipedia
Nicene Creed in Cyrillic writing
This is an article from this month's CTE News:

With the Gospel of Jesus Christ, according to the witness of Holy Scripture and as expressed in the ecumenical Nicene–Constantinopolitan Creed of 381, we believe in the Triune God: Father Son and Holy Spirit. Because we here confess “one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church“, our paramount ecumenical task is to show forth this unity which is always a gift of God. (Charta Oecumenica 1)

The Churches in Dialogue Commission of the Conference of European Churches held a Consultation on “Visions of Unity in our churches – Points of Convergence” at Ráday College, Budapest from 22-23 June 2011.  (The third link in this paragraph is to the report of the consultation.  It is 8 pages and provides a summary of the proceedings and the five papers.)

The task of the consultation was to try to discern points of convergence in the conception of the unity of the Church as the main goal of the ecumenical movement. Five papers were presented on the positions of different traditions regarding visions of unity and points of convergence: the perspectives presented were by: Dr Walter Klaiber (Methodist); Dr Martyn Davie (Anglican); Revd Prof. Dr Viorel Ionita (Orthodox); Prof. Dr Annemarie C. Mayer (Roman Catholic); and Prof. Dr Friederike Nüssel (Lutheran/Reformed). From these papers eight points of convergence were identified: 
  1. The Unity of the Church is from God, it is the gift of the Holy Spirit… 
  2. Unity demands expression in live and mission…
  3. Between ecclesial and Eucharistic community there is an organic link…
  4. Christian identities are rich gifts of God to be shared with each other…
  5. The Search for unity always exists in a particular context…
  6. “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic” is the starting point of the theological reflection on unity…
  7. The unity of the Church also requires both conciliar fellowship and mutual reception of conciliar decisions by the churches… 
  8. Using the same terms does not always lead to or reflect common understanding…
The Report ends urging the churches to commit themselves: 
to follow the Apostolic exhortation of the letter to the Ephesians and persevere in seeking a common understanding of Christ’s message of salvation in the Gospel; in the power of the Holy Spirit, to work towards the visible unity of the Church of Jesus Christ in the one Faith, expressed in the mutual recognition of baptism and in Eucharistic fellowship as well as in common witness and service. (Charta Oecumenica 1)
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Friday, 22 July 2011

Insurance for Churches Together Groups

Charles Simms, March 17, 1796, Fire Insurance ...Image via Wikipedia
This is a fire insurance policy.
Here's an extract from a new page on the Churches Together in England website.  You will see it says enquiries about insurance is one of the most common CTE receives.  The paper contains details of individual insurance companies and goes on a bit, so I've put in a link for those whop are interested.  CTE writes:

Queries about insurance for local events is probably our most frequently asked question

The summary paper has just been updated. Some years ago Churches Together Groups were being quoted huge premiums for public liability insurance for events such as a Good Friday Walk of Witness. Churches Together in England discussed the matter with insurance companies and obtained the three more reasonable schemes indicated in the summary paper .

The update clarifies that when one church in a Churches Together Group hosts an event for the group, that church's insurance policy does not cover the event unless the trustees have explicitly minuted that they are the host and that they take the insurance risk. While this may be sufficient for an occasional event, if there is a regular programme of events it would be better for the Churches Together Group to take out its own insurance policy.
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Thursday, 21 July 2011

Christian Engagement with Islam

Churches Together in England has organised a meeting 'for those less comfortable with or new to Christian-Muslim Relations and who need solid information as well as an opportunity to talk'. The morning will be Christian only and some Muslim colleagues have been invited to speak in the afternoon:

Churches Together in England and the Christian Muslim Forum invite you to: 

Christian Engagement with Islam: Context and Developments in England

A day specially intended for those less comfortable with
or new to Christian-Muslim Relations

Tuesday, 11 October 2011, 10.30 – 16.00
Hinsley Hall, 62 Headingley Lane, Leeds, LS6 2BX

Coffee/tea will be served from 10.00 am

Morning Speakers
Rt Rev Tom Butler “Reflections on the Inter-faith Landscape Today”
Dr Philip Lewis, Islam in England: “Who's who and where?”
Dr Helen Reid, “Christian perspectives on Islam in the last 50 years”

Afternoon Speakers:
Anjum Anwar, Julian Bond “Working together for a healthy society”
Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, Julian Bond “Mission vs. dialogue?”


  • Dialogue and Witness – are they in conflict?
  • What are you doing on the ground? -shared social action
  • Less visible leaders? Women’s role in developing dialogue
  • Getting to know you better – opportunity for questions
  • The bigger picture - politics and international impact 

Cost: £40 waged £25.00 unwaged inclusive of lunch and refreshments. Contact Lorraine Shannon for further information and to book for this event. You will receive an invoice once your booking has been confirmed.
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Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World

This is from the July 2011 edition of CTE News:

Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct, a five-page document on the conduct of mission “according to gospel principles”, was released during a public presentation on Tuesday 28 June at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland.

The recommendations regarding respectful behaviour on the part of missionaries, evangelists and other witnesses when sharing the Christian faith were issued following a five-year series of consultations among the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue (PCID) of the Roman Catholic Church and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA). The three bodies include Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Evangelical, Pentecostal and independent churches with a combined membership of some two billion people representing nearly 90 percent of the world’s Christians.
From left to right: Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran (PCID), Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit (WCC), Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe (WEA)

“In the past five years we have been building a new bridge,” said Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe, chief executive officer and secretary general of the WEA. “The document is a major achievement,” he explained, in that it represents formal agreement on “the essence of Christian mission” while also demonstrating that diverse Christian bodies “are able to work together and to speak together.” In this sense the release of the text “is a historic moment” in the quest for Christian unity.

“We send this document to each of our constituencies,” said the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, “with the hope that they will see these recommendations as an inspiration to design their own codes of conduct, relevant to their own particular contexts.” The document begins, “Mission belongs to the very being of the church.” The recommendations that follow suggest practical ways of engaging in mission while showing sincere respect for neighbours of other faiths.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the PCID, observed that leaders in the churches today “have a duty to proclaim the faith” and also “to propose a greater vision of dialogue.” He cited a principle of Catholic teaching, “Reject nothing that is true and holy in each religion”, cautioning that Christians must overcome religious conflicts if they are to “present the truth of God in a credible way.”

The joint document on Christian witness calls for careful study of the issues of mission and inter-religious dialogue, the building of trust and cooperation among people of all religions and the promotion of religious freedom everywhere. Christians are encouraged to pray for the well-being of all, to strengthen their own religious identity and to avoid misrepresenting the beliefs of others. Where possible, it adds, the preparation of codes of conduct by churches and related organizations “should be done ecumenically, and in consultation with representatives of other religions.”

In presenting “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World”, Tveit alluded to Jesus Christ’s prayer for unity in the 17th chapter of John’s gospel. “We are called to be one so that the world may believe,” said Tveit. “And so this day is a day for thankfulness, a day of celebration, but also a day of reflection.” Meetings involving the WCC, PCID and WEA that led to the formulation of “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World” were held at Lariano, Italy in May 2006, Toulouse, France in August 2007 and Bangkok, Thailand in January 2011.
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Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Methodist URC Liaison, July 2011

United Reform Church, HornseaImage by D H Wright via Flickr
Today the Methodist URC Liaison Committee meets to review issues of concern to local churches where Methodists and Reformed churches are working together.  I'll list briefly below some of items on the agenda.  Leave a comment if you would like more information about any item.
  1. The committee will be reviewing a first draft paper about the reciprocal arrangement between the two churches about legal charges on contributions to each others properties.  With certain exceptions, the arrangement is that when one church makes a financial contribution to the other's property, it does not put a legal charge on the property, so that it can be reimbursed following a sale.  This has been happening for about 20 years and has not so far been reviewed.  The paper reviews some of the issues and the committee will debate the way forward.
  2. Civil partnerships in URC/Methodist Local Ecumenical Partnerships (LEPs).  The two churches have different rules for the blessing of civil partnerships and so we need to be clear about how these rules apply in LEPs.
  3. United Areas the committee will hear about progress with the new model constitution for LEPs and review progress with some of the new and proposed ones.
  4. URC review of ecumenical relations - I listed the questions the committee will be addressing in a previous post.
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Friday, 8 July 2011

An Ecumenical Break

Methodist Ecumenical News is taking a break until 19 July, while I do some travelling.

Hopefully, that week I'll be able to produce a final round up for conference as well as an account of some of the papers going before the Methodist URC Liaison committee.

Here are a few questions about Methodist URC relations, which are to be discussed by the Liaison meeting on the 19th.  The answers will ultimately go to the URC Mission Committee's review of ecumenical relations.  If you have any thoughts, leave a comment.  I'll make sure any comments get to the committee. 

What are the strengths of the relationship between our two denominations?

What are the weaknesses?

Where do you think the relationship might be in ten years time?

What are the most important areas of focus for the development of the relationship?

If you have any requests for topics, please leave them as comments. 
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Thursday, 7 July 2011

Free Churches Group Residential

The Free Churches Group held its first residential meeting for some years on 24 - 25 May this year.  The details are on their website but to save you the trouble, they're also printed here!

The first residential meeting of the Free Churches Group to take place for some time has given the churches a fresh confidence for their relationship and common witness. Time was given to reflect on the common identity the members of FCG hold, how this is forged through closer fellowship and relationships and what common work and activity might arise from the relationship. The meeting considered where churches are already working together in common witness through Churches Together in England and various agencies, in order to highlight what might be specific tasks for FCG.

The central theme is that all that the Free Churches Group undertake is to be aimed at enhancing the mission of the member churches.

The following is the statement produced at the meeting:


This statement is an outcome of the residential meeting of the Free Churches Group

Wednesday 25th May 2011

We re-affirm our commitment to the importance of the Free Churches Group within the strategic relationships of Churches Together in England.

We believe that the Free Churches Group should have a clear identity alongside the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches and other streams within CTE.

We need to build on this in order to strengthen Christian unity.

We believe that there is a continuing Free Churches role within society, particularly with regard to chaplaincy and education.

We believe we have a responsibility to encourage our denominations to recognise their Free Church identity and to explore further ways of speaking out together in the public arena, for example through a closer relationship with the Joint Public Issues Team of the Methodist, Baptist and United Reformed Churches.

We believe that the resources of the Free Church Federal Council (Inc.) should be effectively used to strengthen the mission of the Free Churches.
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Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Contemporary Methodism: a discipleship movement shaped for mission

Methodist Conference 2011 debated the General Secretary's report on Monday, Contemporary Methodism: a discipleship movement shaped for mission.  Here is what Martyn Atkins says in paragraphs 73 and 74:

There are those long-term covenantal partnerships with other Christian Churches to which we rightly continue to commit ourselves and which still hold out fruitful and faithful possibilities for us all. For example, we should remain committed to exploring and extending the meaning of our Covenant with the Church of England, and our continuing developing relationships with the United Reformed Church.

There are also growing opportunities to share in the work of God with newer Christian Church communities and with organisations that focus on specific Christian ministries which we recognise we need in order to be helped and strengthened as a discipleship movement shaped for mission today. For example, some Christian groupings are much better at ministering to generations of people which are acknowledgedly largely ‘missing’ from our Church at the present time. With mind to the Wesleyan ‘Catholic Spirit’ (which Rowan Williams drew upon tellingly to open the new Synod of the Church of England) I consider that we are right to choose to explore how to partner others in the work of God’s kingdom whenever possible, rather than choose not to do so, while recognising and accepting that there are often some differences in perception and understanding between us. This includes not only formal ‘Churches’ but partnerships with groupings focussing upon particular ministries, and so engaging us in ‘natural ecumenism’ in doing so.

In this timely report, discipleship is shown as something integral to the Methodist Church's commitment to mission.  In other traditions this same activity is called formation.  Formation is central not only to mission but also to ecumenism.  Christian formation as a deepening appreciation of a particular Christian tradition, might seem to be opposed to ecumenism.  However, all the major traditions are catholic in the sense each tradition finds its own way to express its catholicity.  Without formation, Christians can become anxious about their own tradition.  Growth in confidence, through formation, helps us enter into dialogue with other traditions.
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Tuesday, 5 July 2011

New President and Vice-President on Ecumenism

Representative session of Methodist Conference 2011 began on Saturday and included addresses from Revd Leo Osborn, the new President of Conference and Ruth Pickles, the new Vice President.  Both mentioned ecumenism in their opening address.

Leo Osborn's address included the following passage.

Balance -  But perhaps balance is not as pejorative a word as Sir Humphrey would have us believe.  Indeed along with the word pragmatic they might be thought to sum up the ethos of Methodism and I am honoured and proud if the Methodist Church believe that I can offer it as President. So I am unashamedly:

Evangelical -  For I believe that at  the heart of Christian faith is a profound relationship with God through Jesus Christ and I long for people to discover that for themselves.  I believe in the centrality of the Cross and Resurrection and in the overriding authority of Scripture but I don’t find that that provides me with answers to every question or that despite living in Newcastle every moral or ethical decision is black and white.  Indeed I have some sympathy with John Robinson of Honest to God fame who towards the end of his life said that he believed more and more about less and less!

Sacramental - For the sacraments - and especially that of Holy Communion - have become more and more important to me and a continual means of grace.  And yet it is  a means and not an end and I have to guard against a spirituality that becomes dry and lifeless and a mere going through the motions.

Ecumenical - For I long and pray for the unity of the church in visible form and want to encourage every initiative to bring it nearer.  It is for me about common sense as well as common grace.  Yet I am proud to be a Methodist and more excited than I have ever been about what God is doing in the Methodist Church today and whatever the shape of the church might look like in 20 or 30 years time I believe we as Methodists will  have an enormous amount to put into the mix for the enrichment of the whole. 

And having said all of that I thank God for those who do not carry an evangelical, sacramental or ecumenical label, who may carry a different label or no label at all  but from whom I have learnt so much .

Ruth Pickles address includes a brief reference to her experience of ecumenism as a student:

In my first week in Sheffield I was 'found' by the Methodist Chaplain and introduced to the Methodist Society (Meth Soc.) which met at Broomhill Methodist Church. Here was another peer group more than 100 strong, and one that was to take me on from where North Harrow had left off. Here it was natural to do things differently. Here we had our experience acknowledged and were enabled to reflect critically on it. The new Chaplain who arrived in my second year, Revd. John Farley, opened a door into biblical scholarship and gave us an understanding of the Bible which was informed and enlightening. His teaching and preaching took the Bible, us and our context seriously. Some of his sermons were printed as pamphlets, but it was not until after his death in 2006 that a compilation was published under the title TSEDEQH & other sermons. To quote from a more illustrious student of John's, Revd. Dr. Colin Morris, 'John recognised that his hearers had minds to be stimulated and hearts to be warmed'. If only all preachers could meet both needs! Thank you John, for God worked through you to encourage me and countless numbers of students in a faith journey that cherished the biblical principles of justice and righteousness. Tsedeqh.

This was also a time of intense ecumenical activity, and we were able to work and share worship with the other Christian groups, including Roman Catholics. (Though we weren't as ecumenical when it came to the annual entry for the Rag float - Meth Soc had a strong reputation to maintain on that front.) I owe a debt too, to many of other denominations and some of other faiths. The Spirit of God does is not limited by boundaries in the same way that we are, for which I am thankful.

Without reading too much into these excerpts, they are an interesting contrast.  Something I often encounter is the contrast between the experience of ecumenism and its theory.  Of course both go together but Ruth Pickles' experience as a student echoes the experience of many young people of the reality of fellowship between traditions.  Does this experience lead inevitably to Leo Osborn's desire for visible unity or is experience enough?
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Monday, 4 July 2011

Life and Death Issues: The Protestant Churches in Europe Speak Out

Day HospiceImage via Wikipedia
This article is from the July edition of the European Bulletin, number 68.  (It used to be possible to subscribe to the Bulletin from the Council for Christian Unity website - currently I have not been able to find the link.  I'll look into it and post a comment when I find it.)

The Community of Protestant Churches in Europe, CPCE, has published A time to live and a time to die, an aid to orientation on questions at the end of life, and the parallel internet page. The study is the fruit of an intensive process of consultation between the 105 CPCE churches in 30 countries on the basis of a text by the CPCE special group on ethics. 

The 104 page brochure asks from a theological and ethical perspective: What is human life? Where does our moral responsibility lie? How sensitive are we to the wishes of the patient? It takes up as central questions of medical ethics the termination of life-extending measures, palliative care, assisted dying and suicide assistance. 

The CPCE churches support the protection of the human rights of the dying and terminally ill. These include the right to life up to the end and the right to refuse treatment. At the same time the churches oppose the setting of a principle of autonomy against solidarity, empathy and care for the sick and dying.
 “It is a strength of European Protestantism that it takes differences seriously and lets them come to expression”, said CPCE President Thomas Wipf about the brochure appearing today in which the protestant churches throughout Europe speak together on the theme for the first time. “This document takes up urgent questions and encourages the churches to address the theme more intensively in their own context.”

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Friday, 1 July 2011

Kirchentag Challenge to Injustice and Violence

2010_07_21_CRW_1008Image by The Lutheran World Federation via Flickr
Here is the second article from the June edition of CTE News about the recent German Protestant Kirchentag.  See yesterday's post for more details about the Kirchentag and links to posts about last year's ecumenical Kirchentag.

Wealth and property shape a “false reading” of human value, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said in a Bible study at the German Protestant Kirchentag which met in Dresden 1-5 June.

“Property and possessions have purpose in as much as they help us to live as the people God called us to be and no more,” Tveit said. He was speaking on the Bible text - “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). This was also the motto for this year’s Kirchentag, which gathered over 120,000 participants. “This is a text for societies, for alliances that think that the more wealth, the more weapons and more security that they possess, the less anxiety they have,” said Tveit. “Letting our fear about security narrow our perspective means that we are not available to be participants in God’s mission in the world. And this has far-reaching implications for justice, peace, equality, unity.”

Tveit arrived at the Kirchentag after attending the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) held in 17-25 May in Kingston, Jamaica. The event, which was sponsored by the WCC, the Caribbean Conference of Churches and the Jamaica Council of Churches, was the culmination of the WCC’s Decade to Overcome Violence, launched in Berlin in 2001. In Jamaica, the some 1000 participants had listened to the “often painful stories of those who experience oppression and violence and injustice,” Tveit recalled.

At an earlier Kirchentag event on the IEPC, Tveit underlined the need for justice and peace to be at the centre of the search for Christian unity. “If this is not at the heart of the ecumenical movement and if this is not at the heart of the churches we cannot give a credible witness to the world,” he said.

In the Bible study Tveit said “we cannot speak about this passage from Matthew only in a spiritual way, for we know that sustainability and survival is an urgent reality for far too many in our world. Wealth and property and the power that comes with them are things which divide people and communities and offer a false reading of human value. This is instead a universal message calling on us to reject materialism as a measure of value or security”. Tveit said that really to be in community and to express visible unity within the church “means that we must successfully challenge injustice, violence, greed, arrogance, corruption and all other threats to fullness of life for each person.”
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