Christians can’t preach a gospel of reconciliation to the world effectively if they themselves are divided, the Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe, Rt Rev Kenneth Kearon has warned. His comment came as he proposed the report of the Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue at General Synod 2019 in Derry-Londonderry on Friday.
Bishop Kearon said the purpose of ecumenism was to enable the world to be reconciled under God. Ecumenism, reconciliation among Christians, was vitally important, he said, because Christians couldn’t preach a gospel of reconciliation to the world effectively if they themselves were divided.
“What I think is very remarkable is the extent to which conversations with others quickly leads to social action and engagement with some of the major issues of our day, as you read of conferences and meetings where the Church of Ireland is involved,” Bishop Kearon said. “Conversations with the Orthodox churches lead to talk about migration and refugees, end–of–life issues and ecology; with Irish churches on the family, Brexit, reconciliation, and engagement with youth issues; with European churches on threats to peace and stability and military conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
“So, engagement with others in any form is almost always productive and creative, and leads quickly to the sharing of experiences and best practice on many social issues facing us all”.
The Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue report highlighted in detail the work of the CCUD and its involvement with numerous ecumenical instruments along with European affairs.
Seconding the report, the Revd Katharine Poulton brought news to Synod of the 17th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council which met in Hong Kong at the beginning of this month.
The theme of the Conference was ”Equipping God’s People, Going Deeper into Intentional Discipleship” and among the presentations, Ms Poulton said, were some on this theme with the launch of many new documents encouraging the provinces to engage in Intentional Discipleship and in particular to encourage members to lead a Jesus-shaped life.
She said that throughout the week the highlights were hearing the stories of the people coming to Hong Kong from very diverse situations. “Beginning to learn something of the very diverse situations from which our brothers and sisters come is very important as we travel together. For many of us, the words ‘climate change’ are simply words; for our brothers and sisters in some places in the Anglican Communion it is a reality, with a real and lasting impact on their lives,” she said.
The next meeting of the ACC is in the Province of West Africa and in 2025 it will meet in the Province of Ireland. Ms Poulton concluded that it was vitally important that we participate fully in the life of the Communion and see the Church in a much wider context that the one in which we live and work.
Discussing the report Wilfred Baker (Cork, Cloyne and Ross) also attended ACC and explained that it had representatives from every church in the Anglican Communion with about 120 members. Three churches within the Anglican Communion did not send representatives, he reported. He said the schedule was intensive. He said that the resolutions could be found on the Anglican Communion website. During the time, members visited parishes in Hong Kong. He said that meeting people at ACC was very important.
Geoffrey McMaster (Dublin and Glendalough) referred to the World Meeting of Families which took place last August. He said the Church of Ireland chose not to get involved in the pastoral events in the RDS which he felt had been a mistake and a missed opportunity to meet ordinary people. He said he also participated in the Pilgrim Walk around churches in Dublin which presented an opportunity to share views. He added that he was attending a series of lectures in his local Roman Catholic parish. He asked what the reflections of the commission were on the World Meeting of Families.
The Archdeacon of Raphoe, Ven David Huss, said there was very little mention of the Moravian Church and wondered whether the connection between the two churches continued.
George Woodman (Connor) spoke of the Anglican Orthodox and the Anglican Oriental Orthodox Commissions and the Old Catholics.
Bishop Michael Burrows (Cashel, Ferns and Ossory) referred to the theological work which had been done with the Moravian Church towards interchangeability of ministry and it was hoped that that council be continued in conjunction with the Church of England.
Ken Gibson (Connor) commended the work of the Irish Inter-Church Meeting.
Johnny Couchman (Cashel) spoke about the impact of intensive farming and fishing on the land and sea. He said that the church did great work for the youth spiritually but said that the church was not really involved in the lives of 20- to 30-year-olds. In tying up with other churches are we becoming a hermit church.
A motion on membership of the committee was passed at Synod. The following were elected to serve on the Commission: The Bishop of Clogher, Rev Katharine Poulton, Rev Ken Rue, Very Rev Niall Sloane, The Bishop of Tuam, The Bishop of Limerick, The Bishop of Cashel, Canon Patrick Comerford, Canon Dr Ian Ellis, Canon Dr Daniel Nuzum, Rev Suzanne Cousins, Rev Cathy Hallissey, Rev David White, Ms Georgina Copty, Ms Cate Turner, Dr Kenneth Milne.