For this months topic in the 4th Christian Reconciliation Carnival, I’d asked the following:
The question I’d like to ask is, whether or not you are presbyter or lay, “What positive thing or things can, should, or must we do this today, this week, or this month, to foster and act in a way which helps drive the ecumenical movement forward?”
If we think Christian unity is important, we need to seek and find practical methods of driving this bus forward. Here are some small suggestions, in the form of the much dreaded (by me at least) bullet list.
- We need to encourage cooperation and contact between Church communities across denominational divides. An example might be that as many parishes hold blood drives. Can you contact and share lists with the other parishes. After most blood drives, juice and cookies are served. It would not be hard for a few parishioners to scare up some soup, chili, and other quick repasts to go along with the juice and cookies. Encourage others and/or get yourself to press the flesh and talk with those others.
- Most churches have Bible studies on weeknight evenings some time during the week. Is it some fear of poaching that prevents us from advertising our study session at the parish down the street? This might not work, because Bible studies often work best in small groups. But how about trying to start a weekly or bi-weekly cross-denominational gathering ala the Catholic “theology-on-tap”?
- If your parish holds events which are of general interest, film nights, concert series, bowling nights, and so on which are not explicitly part of developing church unity (such as a new-comers dinner) would it not make sense pass the word out to the general (secular) public as well as to neighboring churches.
- It has been said that Mr Gutenberg’s little invention helped to fuel the Reformation. Can the Internet fuel the reverse. Can our distance be broken down by networks, chat, and cell-phones. Can this help to help division soften to difference? This carnival is a start. At least three of us, Henry Neufeld, Weekend Fisher (I’m not sure whether or not to use your name), and myself are of different denominations. If we might encourage a few more to join from afield (it might be better still if some of those from the Catholic, Reformed, Anglican, and/or Pentecostal traditions might also enter in) it might be an interesting exercise to explore our divisions and those things which theologically hold us apart on a more regular basis. Can we find a way for the three (or five or six) of us find a way to come closer together via the Net?
On a more concrete note, one thing that I’m trying to do now is that the priests of my former and current parish on a personal level have a great deal in common. In fact, the two parishes do as well, both being of similar size which leads to much that is similar (similar types of problems faced). Last week, there was a concert at my former (Episcopal) church which featured singers from St. Petersburg (popularizing Orthodox liturgical and Russian folk music). I did what I could to encourage people of my newfound parish to visit my old. This had some partial success. Alas, vacations conspired to keep the two priests apart.