Ecumenism

ecuimageJesus prayed for his followers, ‘Father, may they all be one… so that they world may believe..’  (John 17:21).  Ecumenism is the word we use to describe the efforts being made by the various churches to work together and to unite in love and truth.

The Church in Wales is committed to ecumenism and rejoices in the many ways in which Christian churches are growing closer to one another in worship and in service to the community.

Many parishes are involved in local CYTÛN (Churches Together) groups – planning and participating in shared acts of worship, organising Lent house groups, joining in acts of witness in Holy Week, and in other ways.

While disagreements will not quickly go away, at least we know a bit more than we used to about the special gifts we have to offer each other.

Baptised communicant members of other churches are welcome to receive communion in our churches.

When people originally from other churches worship with us regularly and want to be involved in our ongoing life they can be on thier parish’s electoral roll, with written permission from their diocesan bishop. Their talents can be used as officers of a parish church – a boon for smaller churches.

We now permit formal sharing between Anglican parishes and local Free (or non-conformist) Churches. Some parishes belong to formal Local Ecumenical Partnerships (LEPs) whilst others work together on a less formal basis.  There are Canons (church rules) which authorize those areas where ministries can be shared.

In tertiary education, hospital, industrial and prison chaplaincy, Church in Wales clergy will be working alongside, and in teams comprising, clergy and ministers from Roman Catholic and Free Churches.

The Church is Wales is committed to inter-church co-operation at a number of levels: in Wales – through Cytûn; in Britain and Ireland – through Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI); in Europe – through the Conference of European Churches (CEC); and globally – through the World Council of Churches (WCC).

‘Ecumenical conversation is not an exercise in diplomacy; once we think of it in that way we think that, if anything actually moves in this deadlock, this is because someone has made a concession, has compromised with principles, has watered down the truth. This is a disastrous illusion. True ecumenism is not diplomacy: it is kneeling and listening, in the presence of God, with brothers and sisters in Christ from whom the accidents of history have divided us, and asking God how we may lean from one another’
– The Rev’d Professor Henry Chadwick

The Church in Wales is in full communion with some of the Lutheran Churches in Scandinavia and in the Baltic countries through the Porvoo Agreement. We are also in full communion with the Old Catholic Church, the Mar Thoma Church (India), the Philippine Independent Church and the Churches of North & South India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church and the Lusitanian Church (Portugal) and other Churches of the Anglican Communion.

The Church in Wales has also been ‘in covenant’ with the national Presbyterian, Methodist, United Reformed and Covenanted Baptist churches in Wales since 1975. In 2004 they all re-dedicated themselves to a fuller sharing in one another’s ministries, making the best possible use of the provisions of each church; always undertaking new work jointly except where in conscience they must do so separately; pooling resources in order to provide a united witness to Wales; and listening to what the nation is saying to the Church.

On the basis of ‘our common history and heritage’, the Church in Wales together with the Church of England, and the German Evangelical Churches has also underwritten the ‘Meissen Declaration’, which strives after ‘full, visible unity’.

We recognise that our divisions are not pleasing to God and an obstacle in our witness and mission.  We therefore encourage local churches of different denominations to work together. We also encourage theological dialogue at national and international levels that are working to fulfill the prayer of Jesus that we may all be one.