100 not out

Comes as a surprise to find that the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is 100 years old this year. I’ve always been a committed ecumenist – in Northern Ireland it seemed particularly important to hang onto that vision and to use the Week as a pretext for doing things which might not be possible at other times. There were things we couldn’t do – pulpit exchange with Catholic clergy would have been difficult – but we used to exchange lay members of our congregations to bring greetings, read scripture and lead prayers. It was very important and life would have been much harder if we hadn’t been able to model better pictures of relationships in that way.

Regular readers will know that I am unhappy about the present state of ecumenical relationships. At the level of local churches, clergy and congregations, my experience of Scotland is that they are excellent. But at the institutional level, things are more difficult. I think that the sad reality is that churches are preoccupied with institutional survival in a challenging environment and the desire to move towards unity is fairly far down the list of priorities.

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