Reconciling the radical reformation

 — July 22, 201622 juillet 2016

At the Mennonite World Conference Assembly in 2009, MWC President Danisa Ndlovu embraces Ishmael Noko, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation. Photo: Lowell Brown
At the Mennonite World Conference Assembly in 2009, MWC President Danisa Ndlovu embraces Ishmael Noko, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation. Photo: Lowell Brown

Bearing Fruit, Report of the Lutheran World Federation Task Force to follow up the “Mennonite Action” at the LWF Eleventh Assembly in 2010

Bogotá, Colombia – The reconciliation process between the Lutheran World Federation and Mennonite World Conference has created fertile ground for collaboration. A report summarizing the LWFMWC action of reconciling with Mennonites over the condemnations in the Augsburg Confession aims to help LWF churches, pastors, seminaries and congregations to “implement the LWF commitment to teach differently about Anabaptists, especially to how they are described in the Augsburg Confession.”

“The seeds of reconciliation sown more than 30 years ago, which flowered at the service of reconciliation in Stuttgart in 2010, are now truly bearing fruit,” says John D. Roth, MWC representative on the LWF Task Force and contributor to the document. “Mennonite and Lutheran pastors and church leaders will find lots of ideas for how they might engage each other at the local level.”

The process is rooted in the dialogues started to celebrate the Augsburg’s Confession’s 450th anniversary. Recognizing that “ongoing theological differences could not be constructively examined until the wounds of the past were directly confronted,” LWF began a formal reconciliation process in 2003. The principal work of the study commission was to “write a common history of the painful relations during the sixteenth century.” This process was “itself an ecumenical act and thus already a contribution to reconciliation.”

Both communions recognized “the need for communities as well as individuals to recognize when they are in need of genuine repentance and forgiveness.”

“The work of this Task Force has been to respond to the commitments [on teaching Lutheran confessions, exploring unresolved issues, deepening relationship through common prayer and study and work for peace]….in the conviction that this work of the Spirit has not finished with our churches,” the report says.

One “fruit” of this work is the dialogues on baptism; invited to participate by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, MWC suggested LWF join as well.

Bearing Fruit explores another point of on-going difference – civil authority and Christian participation in war – through an honest, respectful dialogue between Mennonite and Lutheran representatives.

“Hard, even painful, work of re-evaluating the past has opened the way for new relationships,” the report declares. “Trees of hope have been planted. Now is the time to take care that the fruits continue to be nurtured and harvested.”

Five hundred years ago, Anabaptists and Lutherans dealt differently with pressure from governing political powers and condemnations rose against each other, says Alfred Neufeld, Faith and Life Commission chair. “But that all is history. Today, the global church of Christ (Mennonites as well as Lutherans) realizes that the church is called to speak truth to the powers. That new global and transnational awareness frees us to stick closer together.”

Addressing the process at an LWF event in Indiana, USA, MWC president Nelson Kraybill said: “Now it falls on us – pastors like you and me, leaders in all levels of our churches and regional bodies – to resolve that we will love and respect each other and find ways to collaborate for peacemaking and proclamation of the gospel.”

Posted: July 22, 2016 • Permanent link:
Categories: NewsIn this article: Christian unity, Lutheran World Federation, Mennonite World Conference, mission, witness
Transmis : 22 juillet 2016 • Lien permanente :
Catégorie : NewsDans cet article : Christian unity, Lutheran World Federation, Mennonite World Conference, mission, witness

Russian Orthodox Church calls boycotted Crete council ‘an important event’

 — July 22, 201622 juillet 2016

Orthodox leaders applaud June 24 during the Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church on the Greek island of Crete. Although the Moscow Patriarchate boycotted the event it called the council 'an important event.' Photo: Dimitrios Panagos, Greek American News Photo Agency

The Russian Orthodox Church, whose boycott of a major summit of Orthodox Christian leaders in Crete last month threatened to slow down efforts to promote greater unity, has declared the meeting “an important event in the history of the conciliar process.”

The church’s synod, in its official reaction to the June 20-26 Holy and Great Council, also said the meeting could not be called “pan-Orthodox” because four of the 14 independent Orthodox member churches did not attend.

The Moscow Patriarchate, which represents between half and two-thirds of the world’s 300 million Orthodox, has been disputing the summit’s pan-Orthodox character since announcing its boycott in early June. Officials at the council said Russia’s Patriarch Kirill could not come to Crete because archconservatives in his ranks opposed it.

But the synod took a more positive approach by calling the session “an important event” and asking its theological commission to study the six documents the council approved and report back on its findings.
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Anglicans and Mennonites enter ecumenical dialogue

 — July 18, 201618 juillet 2016

Willard Metzger, executive director of Mennonite Church Canada, addresses members of the Anglican Church of Canada's General Synod 2016. Photo: Art BabychFor the first time in its history, the Anglican Church of Canada will enter into a bilateral ecumenical dialogue with Mennonite Church Canada (MC-Canada) following a motion passed at General Synod, July 12.

The motion’s mover, Bruce Myers, coadjutor bishop of the diocese of Quebec and former coordinator of ecumenical relations for the national church, explained that as the Anglican church’s relationship to mainstream society changes, it could benefit from talking to a church that has always had a fraught relationship with the mainstream.

“Mennonites have often existed as a church on the margins, both historically and in the contemporary Canadian context,” he noted. “As the Anglican Church of Canada enters a new stage of its life, some of us have been asking if there is something we can learn from our Mennonite sisters and brothers, about living faithfully as disciples of Jesus on the margins of society.”

Myers said the bilateral dialogue would be based on a new approach to ecumenism based not on an attempt to minimize differences, but to receive it as a “gift.”

This “receptive ecumenism” is a way for churches to learn from the differences in each other’s theology and lived experience, without feeling the need to push toward reunion or a full communion relationship.
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Mennonite Church decisions at Assembly 2016

 — July 12, 201612 juillet 2016

Mennonite Church CanadaAssembly 2016 held in Saskatoon from July 6-10 may become known as a watershed year by delegates in attendance.

By turns intense and emotional, joyful and worshipful, the gathered made significant decisions that will impact the Mennonite Church Canada body of Christ for years to come.

On Thursday evening, delegates voted in favour of repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery – a settler teaching that has marginalized and taken rights away from indigenous people for centuries. While much education on the Doctrine of Discovery has already begun among congregations, much more is required.

On Saturday morning, 85% of delegates voted in favour of the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) recommendation to create space and test alternative understandings to traditional beliefs on committed same-sex relationships. Congregations who are asked to bless same sex marriages will now be given space to do so, even as the national family of faith continues testing to see if such discernment is a nudging of the Spirit of God.
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U.S. churches to Russia: We’re not leaving

 — July 12, 201612 juillet 2016

Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, 2007. Photo: Bart Slingerland, Wikimedia CommonsSeveral American-based religious denominations remain defiant in the face of new laws that would ban them from proselytizing in Russia.

The so-called “Yarovaya laws” make it illegal to preach, proselytize or hand out religious materials outside of specially designated places. The laws also give the Russian government wide scope to monitor and record electronic messages and phone calls.

The package of laws, billed as anti-terrorism measures, were passed by the Russian Duma, or parliament, on June 24, and signed by Russian president Vladimir Putin on July 7.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan government panel which makes policy recommendations, condemned the new laws.

“These deeply flawed anti-terrorism measures will buttress the Russian government’s war against human rights and religious freedom,” Thomas J. Reese, a Jesuit priest and chair of the commission said after the measures were passed. “They will make it easier for Russian authorities to repress religious communities, stifle peaceful dissent, and detain and imprison people.”
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Vatican, al-Azhar officials look to kick-start joint talks, cooperation

 — July 12, 201612 juillet 2016

Pope Francis exchanges gifts with Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt's al-Azhar mosque and university, during a private meeting at the Vatican May 23. Photo: APThe Vatican and Sunni Islam’s leading institution of higher learning have begun looking for ways to restart formal dialogue.

Acting on Pope Francis’ expressed desire, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue was sending a top-level official to Cairo to visit al-Azhar University, the council said in a written press release July 12.

Spanish Bishop Miguel Ayuso Guixot, secretary of the pontifical council, will attend a “preliminary meeting” July 13 with Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk, a member of the university’s Council of Senior Scholars and director of the al-Azhar Center for Dialogue. Archbishop Bruno Musaro, the apostolic nuncio to Egypt, was to also attend the meeting.

The meeting, which was requested by the pontifical council following the pope’s “expressed desire, will evaluate how to begin the resumption of dialogue between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and al-Azhar University,” the press release said.

The encounter follows the landmark meeting at the Vatican May 23 between Pope Francis and the university’s grand imam, Ahmad el-Tayeb.
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Saskatoon’s Bishop Don Bolen appointed Archbishop of Regina

 — July 11, 201611 juillet 2016

Bishop Don Bolen, seen here at a confirmation in 2015, was appointed today as Archbishop of ReginaPope Francis has named Bishop Donald Bolen of Saskatoon, Sask., as the new archbishop of Regina.

Archbishop Bolen’s appointment was announced July 11 at the Vatican. He succeeds Archbishop Daniel Bohan, who died in January.

Archbishop Bolen is known nationally and internationally for his work promoting Christian unity. From 2001 to 2008 he worked at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity at the Vatican, before returning to Regina in 2009. Since his return, he has served as a bishop member of the Christian unity council and as co-chair of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission. Since 2013 he has served as co-chair of the Joint International Commission for Dialogue between the World Methodist Council and the Roman Catholic Church.

Speaking of his new appointment, Archbishop Bolen, who was ordained a priest in Regina and served as archdiocesan vicar general and chair of the archdiocesan ecumenical commission, said: “To be moved from the Diocese of Saskatoon is painful, because it has been such a grace-filled experience to live and to serve here as bishop, but, at the same time, to move to the Archdiocese of Regina is to go home. I am profoundly grateful to remain in my home province.”
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