It has been a wonderful week, here at General Synod. As many of you are already aware, we were visited by the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches. Spending time with one whose entire ministry is shaped by the call to Christian unity was a humbling experience. Hearing stories about the church in mission around the world was comforting and awe-inspiring. But at the same time, I found that it was a reminder of just how far we can be from celebrating “one faith, one baptism.”
Dr. Tveit visited Canada to learn about the full communion relationship between the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. In that sense, the day felt sort of like a family reunion. We sang, we shared in word and sacrament, we told stories and laughed together. I caught up with Natasha Klukach, a Canadian Anglican currently serving the WCC in Geneva. I talked shop with the Rev. André Lavergne, who is not only the Ecumenical and Interfaith Assistant to the Bishop for the ELCIC, but my former full comunion partner in parish ministry. And I remembered some of the joys and struggles of serving together.
It wasn’t always easy: ours was a small community, and historical differences ran deep. Fears of “sheep stealing” hovered beneath the surface. But little by little, a bake sale here and a Bible study there, some in our community began to ask why we weren’t praying together more often. And I’m still not sure I can answer that question.
In parish ministry, I have always found Lent to be a hopeful time. In my last parish, both of my congregations gathered for Taizé prayer once each week. But to my surprise, the services became ecumenical gatherings, drawing in Lutheran, Mennonite, Pentecostal, and United Church members. Some weeks, Anglicans were in the minority! In that light, while I celebrate the incredible steps we have made toward Christian unity, I can’t help but ask myself the same questions that were asked of me: where is everyone else? Why aren’t we praying together more often?
They’re good questions to ask in this time of self-examination. They’re good questions to ask as we are reminded of our dependence on God and on one another, knowing all the while that we look to celebrate in the resurrection together.
What about you? Let’s continue this conversation. I’ve created a new topic in The Community called “ecumenism,” and I want to introduce you to its leader: the Rev. Craig Bowers. Craig serves in team ministry, and functions as Ecumenical-Interfaith Officer in the Diocese of Ottawa. He has many stories to share, and will be guiding your discussions in the future.
Join in the discussion! Craig has asked the following question to get the conversation started. You can answer in the forum, by simply clicking on his question: