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Victorian Council of Churches: Ecumenism at the grassroots

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Victorian Council of Churches

Saturday 10th August (10am-12 noon)

Theme: Grassroots ecumenism

NOTE: this is a change of time and now online via Zoom (details will be sent out the day before to everyone who has registered). 

The day conference has been cancelled and will now be online via Zoom, from 10am to 12 noon. Victoria Turner will give her presentation and there will be an opportunity to engage with the content. 

“Ecumenism – the fellowship of Christian churches as a sign of hope for the world – is not a building project whose state we can describe in a neutral and objective way, but a living process with which we must engage if we want to understand and appreciate it.” 

(Konrad Raiser, former General Secretary, World Council of Churches, 2003)

Grassroots ecumenism is one aspect of the ecumenical movement, a living relationship between Christians in the local context. Its focus is less on a deep dive into theological understandings and negotiating differences. Rather it is learning about and with each other. It is also a practical embodied form of ecumenism between churches, and in the public space. It invites reflection on the what we can do better together than apart. Across differences in ethnicity and religious traditions, the things we do together locally may focus on shared worship and prayer, as well as on social justice, eco-justice, advocacy and compassionate community care. It may be expressed in institutions such as prison ministry, hospital chaplaincy, and schools.

Grassroots ecumenism puts a face to the unity for which Christ prayed: Father, just as you are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me (John 17:20,21)

“Grassroots ecumenism, bringing people together in local settings, despite and without effacing their religious differences, is often a yearning, an ideal and a hope of highly valued religious unity and spiritual fellowship. Rarely is it a firm, unchallenged accomplishment”. (Richard Werbner, 2018)

Victoria Turner's keynote precis: Receptive-or-Restricted Ecumenism: 
 Re-establishing Vulnerability in Relationship
The program will begin with keynote by Victoria Turner. She critiques a recent method of ecumenism prominent in the Western world (receptive ecumenism), esposing its distance from the local and also distance from key decision makers. It also prioritises comfortable exchange over costly exchange. This talk gives an alternative model of ecumenical relationships and how we should go about embracing “otherness” within our own traditions from being blessed by the “other”.

Victoria Turner is a Lecturer in Theology and Mission at Ripon College (UK) and associate lecturer at the University of Oxford, and an associate tutor at Westminster College, Cambridge. She is co-editor of the International Journal of the Study of the Christian Church with Rev Dr Stephen Burns and book review editor for the journal, Modern Believing. Her PhD is in World Christianity from the University of Edinburgh and explored the shifting models of mission in the 20th century through researching the Iona Community (1938) and the Council for World Mission (1977 —previously the 1795 London Missionary Society). Victoria has three edited books with SCM Press and multiple book chapters and journal articles. She won the Lombard Essay Prize from the World Communion of Reformed Churches for her essay on transformative ecumenism.

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