Ecumenism. has it become an endangered idea surviving church electricity prices by country

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In the past week I have come across two pieces of writing which have helped me to understand the poor state of ecumenism in the Church today. Before I describe these documents, I want to explain a little of my own personal background within the so-called Ecumenical Movement of the past. grade 9 electricity quiz As a student I was fortunate to spend four months in Geneva at the Ecumenical Institute studying with other students from all over the world. This gave me an appreciation of the sheer variety of theological expression that exists in different parts of the world.

Some fifteen years later in the 80s I was asked to take on the role of an ecumenical officer in the Diocese of Hereford alongside my parochial responsibilities. This involved helping in the support of initiatives for ecumenical activity in the area and getting to know those involved. In addition, I was required to be up to speed with various ecumenical documents that were being produced at the time. In some ways the period was an ecumenical golden age. Everyone was encouraged by the publication of the ARCIC statements and the so-called Lima documents. We looked forward to the future with great optimism. We believed that unity was not just something that people wanted but also something that could possibly be soon within the grasp of the whole Church.

Since 1987, when I left Hereford, I have been aware how the enthusiasms of that period seem to have totally evaporated. There are probably various ways to account for this, but I want to offer some of my own understanding on this issue. Ecumenism as an idea ceases to capture the imagination of 21st century Christians because the attitudes that allowed it then to flourish are far harder to find. Ecumenism can thrive when there is a sense on the part of all Christians that their denominational allegiances are to some extent dictated by history. Anglican dogmatic formularies, like the 39 Articles, belong to a moment of history. emitra electricity bill payment That does not make them null and void, but we must take care if they are to be used in any way to define a contemporary Anglican identity. Much of the denominational identity of other Christian bodies is also rooted in the past. When Christians come together for ecumenical discussion there can be a mutual readiness to explore these past histories and see the strengths and weaknesses that have been handed down. Ecumenical conversation was often an exercise in mutual humility as past misunderstandings could be explored and understood with fresh eyes. electricity quiz ks3 Ecumenical discussion in short could be creative and transformative for all concerned. There is so much to learn, not least new insights from one’s own tradition.

The state of ecumenism today has changed radically because, arguably, fewer Christians have a sense of being rooted in a distinct historical context, one that gives shape to their current Christian identity. Anglicans of my generation have a far stronger sense of the past and the way that this past has affected the way we do theology in the present. The conservative evangelical way to do theology is to suggest it is in some way timeless, divorced from culture and the limitations of language. The Bible is treated as though it is a divine document from outside time. It is thus impervious to any criticism. gas variables pogil Denominational Protestant Christianity (Methodists, Presbyterians etc) with its strong sense of the past and the way that history has shaped its contemporary expression is seen by these conservatives as an enemy. The only Christianity that is valid for conservative Protestants is one that is built on biblical truth as they understand it. There is no space for the kind of humble mutual searching that used to be part of ecumenical discussion.

To say that ‘biblical’ conservative Christianity is arrogant and insensitive to the way that other Christians think is probably an understatement. The expression of Christianity that I am talking about, typically emanates from the United States and is keen to shut down all expressions of the Christian faith except its own. This past week I have stumbled across a reference to a publication put out by a little-known conservative organisation in America called the Institute on Religion and Democracy. This group is one that wishes to oppose all forms of denominational Christianity on the grounds that historical denominations do not conform to the narrow conservative perspective of ‘Bible Christians’. The technique it uses is to encourage and resource ‘renewal groups’ within mainstream denominations, such as Presbyterian, Methodist and Episcopal. Under the banner of restoring ‘theological integrity’ to these churches, it provides advice on how to ferment dissension within these denominations. It speaks about energising traditionalists and opposing and ‘discrediting the Religious Left’. This Institute is thus working hard to reverse all the efforts of a hundred years of ecumenical work in the West. In short it wants to destroy those Christian groups which have histories, theologies and traditions which conservative Christians do not share.

The second piece I have read in the past week was a short letter in the Church Times about the work of St Helen’s Bishopsgate. We have already spoken of this congregation as a major centre for the conservative group REFORM. electricity sound effect mp3 free download The letter was written by a senior Anglican priest working in the City of London. It tells us that St Helen’s does not allow its clergy or laity to pray with other Anglicans in the deanery. Nor are they to take part in any activities that imply partnership in the gospel. speedy q gas station Canon Joyce, the author of the letter, expressed amazement that a church with such attitudes should be designated as a ‘resource church’ for the Church of England.

Those of us who remember the days when ecumenism seemed to be flourishing both nationally and internationally must be, like me, filled with foreboding at these indications of a profoundly anti-ecumenical spirit in the church. We are not just talking about destructive behaviour by non-Anglican pressure groups. We are also encountering toxic relationships being encouraged by wealthy and powerful congregations ostensibly within the Anglican fold. This blog has always had as its aim to highlight abusive power relationships within the church. Today we are identifying the way that the Church is being openly undermined by powerful groups from the far right in politics and theology. Ultimately the interests of right-wing groups seek to destroy and undermine anything that stands in their way. As I indicated in my piece on theocracy, there is no room for discussion, consensus or disagreement in the world of right-wing Christianity. We in our turn need to stand up against all these attempts to destroy and undermine inclusivity, tolerance, and kindness in our churches. We need our Christian faith to stand up for old fashioned ideas of diversity and the dignity of difference so that a variety of Christian experiences can live alongside one another for the mutual enrichment of all.

I have seen the decline of ‘ecumenism’ in my local West Sussex coastal village since our arrival in 1985. In those days, we had joint Methodist/Congregational/RC/Church of England Lent meetings, and exchange of pulpits during – what was it? – Christian Unity Week, some time in January/February. (I had attended the first of these in Trafalgar Square as a student in 1961,2 or 3.) Now there is no Methodist Church. The RC priest resides in Chichester and visits for the weekly Masses. The Congregational/URC church is managed by a group who are closer to Christian Zionists of the American kind than the mainstream URC. The Church of England parish has been manipulated by the diocesan bishops of London and Chichester into the care of extreme ‘Catholic’ priests of the ‘Society of St Hilda and Saint Wilfrid’. As these changes took place over the past 20 years, all pretence at ‘ecumenism’ has faded from the scene as each group looks after its own diminishing bands of disciples, all of whom are ageing. I have fought a rear guard action over the years, but have now given up, even with the ‘Christian’ label altogether. It seems to me that to be labelled ‘Christian’ means having to squeeze your soul into a sectarian mould of one sort of certainty or another. gas variables pogil packet answers Perhaps the time of Bonhoeffer’s ‘Religionless Christianity’ is upon us.