Posted by: morgan1965 | January 26, 2011

An Ecumenical Spirit

Some Christian congregations observed ecumenical Sunday on Sunday, February 23, 2011. Such an observance brings a focus on ecumenical relations among Christian churches that have to do with unity and cooperation.

I have fond memories of the ecumenical cooperation that existed among the African American congregations in the community where I served my first pastoral appointment. The pastors and laity came from several different denominations – African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion, Primitive Baptist, Baptist, United Methodist and several Holiness congregations. We would visit each other’s churches and support various activities that took place from time to time. I would regularly look out into the congregation on a Sunday morning and see visitors from other denominations; they had come to worship with us.

This ecumenical relationship was manifested in the regular Wednesday evening prayer service. This weekly prayer service rotated from church to church, and it was largely led by the lay people. The participants knew that there was power in prayer and this power was amplified in the context of the ecumenical prayer service. The people, however, did not use the word, ecumenical. They simply participated in a Christian expression of unity and cooperation. The prayer/worship experience was inspiring and encouraging.

This ecumenical group of pastors and lay people came together and formed a nonprofit corporation. This corporation sponsored a day care center that is still operating today. The participants put aside religious differences and focused on the needs of children and parents. There was significant strength in the unity of these churches, enabling them to engage together in a mission project that made a difference in the community.

I strongly support ecumenical participation and cooperation among Christian denominations. For me, it is a privilege and a joy to be a member of the West Virginia Council of Churches that includes the Roman Catholic Church and many Protestant denominations, including the United Methodist Church, the Lutheran Church in America, the Episcopal Church and the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Together, the member judicatories engage in matters of faith and order. Also, the member judicatories address a variety of social issues that are of great importance to the residents of West Virginia.

This kind of ecumenical cooperation is not unlike the cooperation that is fostered among United Methodist Churches. We call this cooperation connectionalism. Together, we are able to do what no one congregation can do alone. Together, we can make a difference in our communities, our state and our world.

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