What We Do

Two Ways of Serving:

With God’s help, the Institute pursues its purpose in two modes: (1) the Fellows mentor Associates who do service and (2) the Fellows do service directly themselves.

(1)The Fellows of the Institute, collaborating with Board Members and denominational partners, will mentor and support leaders for Christian unity.

Our goal is to cooperate with them to work on mission priorities and service needs which advance Christian unity and, in the process, to deepen their commitment, empowerment, formation, collaboration, and church-integration in their work for Christian unity. 

With God’s help, we will seek to:

  • Awaken younger Christians to see Christian unity as essential, (central, constitutive) to their life and ministry.  There are devout next-generation Christians in every confession who are inspired to see the pain and wrongfulness of Christian division.
  • Offer these leaders – and more established ones as well – the opportunity to become Associates of the Institute.
  • Invite them to make a commitment to Christian unity within their vocation.
  • Help to equip them for that commitment. First and foremost, we will help them integrate into the Christian unity ministry of their churches.  Second, we will give as much formation as our experience, alliances, education, and resources provide.  Our goal will be to support the particular and unique vocation to Christian unity of each Associate.   We will meet over time with them. With approval from the board, we will issue both an entry letter and a commissioning letter.  Where appropriate, the Institute will help the Associates learn to raise financial support for their ministry to Christian unity.
  • With accredited Field supervisors through Harvard University, Boston College, and Boston University School of Theology, we are able to assist associates in obtaining academic credit.
  • Do all in our power, with God’s help, to let them see positive results in pursuit of mission priorities like those listed below.

(2) The Fellows also serve churches and Christian organizations as consultants in church unity matters such as testing, developing, and supervising programs that build Christian unity, advance evangelization, and increase interdenominational understanding.

  • To help people where they are right now in their desire for Christian unity. In the Boston area we have over 250,000 interchurch families.  Studies show they tend to decline in faith activity and their children to grow up unchurched.   There are special resources to help reverse that trend.  We will invest in the pre-marriage programs through which most of those couples pass.  We will make resources available such as the National Association of Interchurch Families. We will help promote followup pastoral programs for the newly-married interchurch couples. We will create a nexus for them to begin to aggregate so they can advocate and participate in the work for unity locally, nationally, internationally, inside their churches and outside.
  • To sponsor, collaborate with and/or develop activities around the theme of Unity 17. Unity 17 refers to both the Scripture that compels our vision (John 17) and a significant calendar event rich with kairos: October 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation which is already in planning to have significant opportunities for Christian Unity.  In Contact with Dr. Kathryn Johnson, Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Affairs at the Lutheran World Federation, the associate will help design and implement commemorations which promote unity and support the Gospel.
  • To help expand 10 Days of Prayer and UNOW network throughout New England to include a good representation of Catholics, Orthodox, Mainline and Evangelical Christians. To sponsor additional prayer together.       Prayer as a central part of work for Christian unity also helps us to find others being called by God to the cause of Christian unity. The associate will get to know the organizations and their mission for Christian unity well. And promote them.
  • To pursue Collaborative Evangelization and Service. Build on partnerships with Alpha New England, the Evangelical-Roman Catholic Dialogue of New England, church offices for evangelization, Vision New England, and others to accomplish evangelism projects run collaboratively across ecclesial lines and which root the evangelized in the churches to which God calls them. Build on similar partnerships with churches, Sant’Egidio, Catholic Charities, church offices, Salvation Army and others, to accomplish service projects centered around aid and justice.
  • To increase Synergy: Bring those working for Christian Unity together. We will serve as a support center, matchmaker, nexus, ligature, for all sorts of groups, individuals, movements involved in Christian unity – many of whom currently do not even know of each others’ existence. There are new movements to bring into the historic conversation, and older movements to revitalize and learn from.
  • To Clearinghouse Resources: provide free online lists of websites, programs, journals, bibliography, new media, and resources for Christian unity.
  • To Collaborate with Massachusetts Council of Churches, Christian Churches Together, or church offices for communication to help the work for Christian unity increase its media presence: social media, new media, established media. This is part of championing Christian unity.
  • To Learn from History: Much of the extraordinary activity for Christian unity of the last century is disappearing unchronicled. It is a trove of shared identity among Christians as well as a rich vein of experience and ideas for the future.
  • To Assist Theological Dialogues: The functioning conversations for unity between ecclesial communities in New England need assistance to become more fruitful. We seek to help them connect back to their church-sponsors, champion their statements, and guide reception; connect to pastors and teachers-by publication, by continuing education, and by guest-participation in dialogues; connect to laypeople and students- by adapting them for teaching tools, by revitalizing the dialogues and educating seminarians; and harvest Christian unity dialogues which have created valuable resources in the past. They can be turned into showcases for formation of seminarians, into encouragement to interchurch families and all who long for Christian unity, into reception for the Christian unity movement, and into participants in wider national efforts for Christian unity. In some areas, such as the Evangelical-Catholic dialogue, the time is ripe for many new local dialogues to emerge from the established one.
  • To Twin Theological dialogues with “The Dialogue of Love”- to add local relationships between pastors and members of churches to the official-level contacts; to facilitate service between churches and Christians (diakonia); to promote gestures of community and esteem.
  • To listen to the churches about their Christian unity commitments and help find resources and design activities to assist them in following through on those commitments. Ecumenism is –literally – “mission-critical” but so often it gets left on the margins.       Many churches or denominations have ecumenical offices or officers who would benefit from an associate’s assistance.
  • Many of the programs of the Mass. Council of Churches, Vision New England, Ten Days, Unite Boston, etc. provide avenues for service. Emanuel Gospel Center has an internships list.
  • http://www.onedate.org/ and numerous other movements around the date of Easter, such as the Aleppo document, need to be linked, publicized, and mobilized.
  • To organize seminarians’ exchanges.       Help revive them where they existed (SJS-HC/HCGOST, etc.) and found them where they did not.       Include prayer, social time, and an update on ecumenism.
  • To develop experiential learning groups for shared evangelization activities. Those who have experience could share best practices with each other and with a wider set of pastors and evangelization ministries.
  • To hold a summer academic conference to bring together veteran Christian unity leaders with younger folk who have interest in making Christian Unity a part of their vocational commitment.
  • To create Christian Unity cohorts for new graduates of seminary and theological school.
  • To find ways for scholars and academic journals to champion Christian unity. Many of the churches have pledges in place for a course in their seminary or other commitments.
  • To build on the churches’ own self-identity as a key to progress toward Christian unity. Churches need to be helped to understand that unity is their destiny and DNA. Progress toward unity is progress indeed for them. Means to accomplish this include publishing formal papers, informal fora and blogs, meetings, and one-on-one conversations with Christian leaders.
  • To cultivate Hospitals, Nursing Homes, and Universities as fruitful fields for contributions to Christian unity. First, they are microcosms bringing many different denominations into contact.       Second, there is often inclination toward ecumenical activity.
  • To marshal prayer support for Christian unity, especially around specific intentions. Monastics and contemplatives are open to requests to pray for Christian unity. And every single Christian needs to be brought to join them.
  • To hold a Summer “Prayer Summit” at Assumption College (summer 2014) and support other prayer for unity.
  • To lead yearly retreats and pilgrimage for Christian unity.
  • To develop Scripture studies on Christian Unity for use with students; to help launch Christian unity small groups.
  • To create a Curriculum for a “brief primer” on the history of Christian Unity.
  • To design and conduct 1-2 hour introductory programs for college students.
  • Ecumenical Spring Associate Project: To learn and disseminate an overview of what is happening ecumenically in the Metro Boston area. Step 1, refresh knowledge of the Christian Unity mandate. 2, Find a collection of Christian unity periodicals of the last two years and compile their news sections. 3, compile known local initiatives. 4, Contact local leaders. 5, Continue compiling. 6 Pray and think about how these pieces fit together. 7 Publish with the intent of correcting perceptions of Christian Unity to reflect its reality as a growing movement. List what is happening in Next Generation Ecumenism.
  • To help produce video about what’s happening in local ecumenical arena. YouTube, Vimeo, and make it available as teaching material.
  • Assistant to Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP): specifically work on (a) gathering the cases made by various Christian groups for peace and justice in the Holy Land to persuade more Christians to take part in that effort and the relief organizations that serve it (CNEWA, etc.) and/or (b) create a network database for use by CMEP in the Boston area, and/or (c) work with CMEP’s regional coordinator on a project of her needing with a Christian unity component.
  • Promoting Unite Boston: Intern at the service of Unite Boston. (1) Get to the know the organization and its mission for Christian unity well. (2) Promote the mission by advancing the work of the organization through (a) serving as one of UB’s geographical representatives- gathering news of what God is doing in and through the whole spectrum of Christian communities in that area and enabling each of those communities to see the whole picture of their area in this encouraging way; (b) facilitate contacts, cooperation, prayer, and bonds between those churches. (3) Help with UB’s interaction with other organizations dedicated to Christian unity. (4) Help UB get its total findings seen more widely through its blog, webpage, and other outlets. (5) Explore additional ways to advance UB.
  • Taize Prayer Catalyst: Understand Taize prayer and its role in the advancement of Christian unity. Make sure the Taize groups in the area all know of one another. Multiply the number of avenues of publicity for those meetings.       Find audiences most interested in learning about the opportunity for Taize prayer participation and increase the number of people praying. Perhaps try to increase the prayer for Christian unity within the Taize meetings slightly.
  • Assist in joining the pan-Christian college journals projects such as Icthus at Harvard.
  • Find local ways to implement the ACT3 Network and the Princeton Proposal in this region.
  • Structure a placement around the Paulists’ Ministry in Boston – Their Koinonia periodical, their Taize’ prayer, and a long-term Christian Unity center at Park St.
  • Structure a placement around the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology in Boston – their Pro Ecclesia periodical, their ecumenical conferences, etc.
  • Let the Holy Week and Patron Exchanges be internationally-known events: on the Fora and Websites, on Christian radio shows and in the Bulletin Boards.
  • Structure a placement around the ecumenical ministry of Metropolitan Methodios: pairing parishes, implementing the Sunday proposal, and his guidance.
  • The Local Christian Unity Mandate Project: Review churches’ ecumenical commitment documents for magisterium-requested or –mandated activity on the local level. Combine it into a list of all we are being asked to do. Then prioritize it and marshall resources for it.
  • A Focolare-InCU partnership: To help reduce youth violence. Form a web of people to hear each others’ stories, envision a different future, and accompany each other as we plug in to programs.
  • Look at how ecumenical dialogue reception actually works– for example, in the Joint Declaration development up to 1999. Consider the fate of other major ecumenical documents such as The Aleppo Statement, the Filioque, and Called to Common Mission, and see if reception requires a group to champion it – to make it accountable, prophetic.
  • Updating ministers and churches on the content of the movement to Christian unity; assisting theology school graduates to supplement their understandings of the practice and theory of ecumenism.