Updated 19 February 2018.
A lecture exploring new dimensions in ecumenism, including ‘the ecumenism of action’, was given by Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, as part of the celebrations for the 70th anniversary year of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
‘Ecumenism that looks like it is about the negotiation of frontiers is an ecumenism based on the theological foundations of sand’, said Justin Welby. ‘The way we live is like a family where relationships have broken down. It’s not normal, it is deceiving. We are deceived and we deceive the world into the purpose and power of Christ.’
‘The work of ecumenism is not merely an urgent question for the churches, it is an existential one’, he added. ‘Looking forward, what I pray for is an ecumenism of action theologically under-pinned’.
But he warned that ‘there is a great danger that the ecumenism of action turns into the ecumenism of being useful. We can easily fall into the trap of believing that if we cannot agree, then we can at least do something together that is nice and useful. But this is massively to understate and to misrepresent the nature of the ecumenism of action.’
‘The world is crying out in need, not only in the obvious ways in which our newspapers tell us, but in the spiritual need of incapacity to forgive each other’s sins, incapacity to be reconciled to one another, to live as one beautifully diverse, utterly extraordinary creation and living as one to represent the oneness of Christ’, he said. ‘The ecumenism of action, theologically under-pinned, should be our response to such darkness. We must say together that we will carry the light of Christ together into the darkness.’
‘It is appropriate, right and imperative that the churches work together to seek out the lost wherever they may be, to find that when we bring them into the safety of the fold it should be one fold, not many, and that the flock is one flock with one shepherd, the Good Shepherd himself, who prays that we may be one’, Justin Welby concluded.
The lecture was livestreamed from Geneva on Friday 16 February 2018 and you can watch the recording above or on the WCC YouTube channel.
For more details of Justin Welby’s lecture on ecumenism see the WCC website.