Ecumenical Dreams and Realities

Ecumenical Dreams and Realities

Dear Daily Devotion

I hope you found the series of reflections where people explored why they were still Christian despite a range of issues.  Feedback has shown a huge interest in this series and I hope to return to a similar theme next year – maybe focused on why we choose to live out our discipleship within the URC.  Now we’re going to turn to some reflections, over the next two weeks, looking at our ecumenical dreams and our ecumenical realities.

51 years ago the URC was formed as two of the smaller traditions in English and Welsh Christianity united.  It was an age of Church unions with the Church of North India, the Church of Pakistan, the Church of Bangladesh,  the Uniting Church in Australia all coming into being a generation after the Church of South India, the United Church of Canada and the United Church of Christ.  The dreams of our forebears was of a united church in Great Britain and it was hoped that we wouldn’t last very long and we’d be incorporated into further unions with Methodists and Anglicans.  Sadly these unions came to nothing.  Later unions with the Churches of Christ and the Congregational Union of Scotland ended this particular outworking of Jesus’ call to be one.  Plans for greater union in Wales and Scotland all came to nothing.  Yet the URC is still committed to ecumenism, around a third of our congregations are partnerships with other denominations and we like to think that ecumenism is in our DNA. 

Over the next two weeks we hear a variety of writers from a range of denominations muse on our ecumenical dreams and realities.  Lindsey Brown, our Mission Support Officer, muses on how social action is a fruitful ecumenical venture.  Susan Durber, President from Europe of the World Council of Churches reflects on the trickiness of the ecumenical adventure.  Jeremy Morris, National Advisor for ecumenical relations in the Church of England writes of hope in seemingly hopeless realities.  I reflect on my own journey of ecumenism through various expressions of Church before landing in the URC.  Verena Hammes, General Secretary of the German Council of Churches muses on the interrelatedness of Christians in Germany and how we all need each other.  Former Moderator of the United Church of Canada, Jordan Cantwell muses on the ecumenical journey in Canada in ways which we recognise all too well.  Ruth Browning remembers when she married, Catholic, Kingsley Fulbrook the chaplains at their university assumed there’d be one united Church in Britain soon and they’d not need to choose a denomination for their children.  Kingsely, now a deacon in the Catholic Church,  reflects on the divine and human nature of the Church.  Sarah Moore, a member of the World Council of Church’s Central Committee, reflects on the giving and receiving of gifts in ecumenism.  His Eminence, Archbishop Angealos the Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, reflects on Jesus’ prayer that we may all be one.  Matthew Ross a Church of Scotland minister who worked for many years in ecumenical relations reflects on a dispute in the church in Philipi and the ecumenical winter.  Finally, Odair Pedroso Mateus, former deputy General Secretary of the World Council of Churches reflects on the world’s need for Jesus’ compassion. 

I hope you find these varied reflections on ecumenism fruitful as we ponder where we go on our journey to respond to Jesus’ call for union.

With every good wish


The Rev’d Andy Braunston
Minister for Digital Worship

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