Ecumenism Lives at Local Level: Journal

Article excerpt

Rev. Laverne Jacobs tells of a First Nations community where divisions that followed the arrival of a Pentecostal church eventually began to ease. Members of "historic" churches began to attend the occasional revival meeting at the Pentecostal church.

But Mr. Jacobs, an Anglican priest from Walpole Island, Ont., currently on the national staff of the United Church of Canada, also tells of a First Nations community where members of one of the "mainstream" churches began to hold annual powwows to raise funds. Local Pentecostals regarded such activity, including native dances, as "of the devil," he reports.

Rev. Wendy Fletcher-Marsh, dean of the Vancouver School of Theology, recalls the time her family was heading for the country club reception that followed the bat mitzvah of a Jewish friend of her daughter's. They stopped at a Tim Horton's to ask for directions.

"Oh yes," the employee advised them, "your turn is just down the street from the Buddhist temple. Turn left at the mosque and if you hit the Sikh temple you know that you have gone too far."

Those vignettes are from a recent issue of Ecumenism, the journal of the Montreal-based Canadian Centre for Ecumenism, which asked correspondents from across the country to comment on the state of ecumenism. The issue marked the 40th anniversary of the founding of the centre in 1974, in what was a heady era for ecumenism.

The over-all impression of the report is that the current state of traditional ecumenism--the quest for closer relations among Canada's historic or "mainstream" churches--is rather lacklustre by comparison.

But contributors also report vitality in ad-hoc local efforts, in relations with and among evangelical churches, in inter-faith relations between Christian churches and other world religions, and in pragmatic responses to an increasingly secular society.

Among reports:

* Canon Ralph Billard, an Anglican priest in St. John's, reports that the end of the denominational school system in Newfoundland and Labrador has led to "a much more healthy atmosphere" among denominations. …

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