I’ve always been deeply committed to building ecumenical relationships. That’s partly because it seemed to be essential – I almost said ‘a matter of life and death’ – among the divisions of Northern Ireland. It’s also because denominationalism is profoundly unattractive – churches are better in relationship. My problem has always been that I don’t much like the institutional expressions of ecumenism. I have profound respect for those who cope better than I do with the long agendas …
So I find myself firmly trumped by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation to be the Anglican Co-Chair of the forthcoming dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the World Communion of Reformed Churches. And I’ve just spent two days in London working with others to shape what will probably be a five year programme of talking and exploring.
It’s an honour for me – and for our church – that I should be asked to do this. And there are reasons why it makes sense. The Church of Scotland is an influential member of the World Communion of Reformed Churches – indeed the HQ of the former World Alliance of Reformed Churches was in Edinburgh until 1948. I’m encouraged to see our relationships with the Church of Scotland growing and deepening in all sorts of ways at the moment. So there will be interplay between what happens in the forthcoming dialogue and what happens in Scotland.
So it’s deep breath – and time to face up to the long Agendas