“The world needs to know Jesus. We must proclaim Him without any pause, together. The division among Christians is the fruit of our sin, and it is a scandal and our greatest impediment for the mission for which the Lord has called us: announcing the Good News of the Gospel.”
So said Pope Francis in a letter he sent to a gathering of Evangelicals & Catholics this past September – at which I had the privilege of representing the Institute for Christian Unity. For me, Francis’ words capture the essence of our work and the passion which drives me to keep going at this in the face of many challenges. It resonates deeply with our vision: “To raise up a new generation of ‘prophetic ecumenists’ who seek to both confront and heal disunity in the Body of Christ and live as a sign of love for that Body, so that the world would know the good news of Jesus” And I hope it stirs something in you as well.
Over the past year, that vision and passion has motivated me to teach about reconciliation across historic church divides in a number of settings and to create networks between Catholics and Evangelicals through smaller gatherings like the one mentioned above. I also spent a week in April out of my comfort zone at the National Workshop for Christian Unity, helping my good friend and mentor John Armstrong establish the first-ever participation of Evangelicals at that conference.
That vision and passion has motivated my co-Director Vito Nicastro to spend months of hard work behind the scenes to bring about a remarkable joint letter from Cardinal O’Malley and Bishop Hazelwood of the ELCA that even got a shoutout in the Boston Globe. It has motivated our Fellow Matt Crane to create a unique community grass-roots ecumenical forum in the Boston area. Over the past calendar year they have thoughtfully engaged a number of powerful topics including racism, human sexuality, the role of women in the church and the current refugee crisis – all in a space of mutual respect and love. And all of us have been involved in mentoring several young undergraduates and seminarians, all of whom are discovering their own call to prophetic ecumenism.
Though each of us has another full-time ministry, our goal for next year is to continue to expand the impact of the Institute. Some of the ways we’d like to do that include:
• Working with Vision New England to develop more missional partnerships between Evangelicals and Catholics.
• Hosting a multi-day Christian unity gathering in the greater Boston area in the fall of 2016.
• Following up the joint letter by creating structures for Lutherans, Catholics and other Christians to come together for study, prayer and service
• Expanding the WEE Forum to more communities
Warmly in Christ,
Founding Fellow and Co-Director