Good neighbours: now they’ve put it in writing

 — Feb. 26, 200026 févr. 2000

Good neighbours: McClure United and Holy Spirit congregations have always been close; now they’ve put it in writing

If Covenant 2000 were a play, Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church and McClure United Church would be well into the second act.

The two churches recently signed a formal ecumenical covenant, committing themselves to breaking down barriers while developing faith, humility and greater understanding of their shared belief in Jesus Christ and His desire that “all may be one.”

The analogy to a stage play was made by Rev. Bernard de Margerie, pastor of Holy Spirit. Act One was The Courtship, during which the two congregations deliberately began building an ecclesiastical, Christian relationship.

The history of the two southeast Saskatoon churches has been intertwined since 1966, when both were organized and held their services in high school gymnasiums. At that time, there were conversations about the possibility of building one church to house both congregations. However, after much dialogue and a vote, the proposal was narrowly defeated because of concern over space and time conflicts during the high seasons of Christmas and Easter.

But the congregations continued to interact. In 1990, they banded with other southeast area churches in the Southeast Saskatoon Interchurch Group, which met on a regular basis for prayer and dialogue.

The actual idea of Holy Spirit and McClure covenanting had its roots in the Centre for Ecumenism. Each denomination has policies on ecumenism: The United Church of Canada refers to its 35th General Council in 1990, which called for “strong commitment to ecumenical life and work in Canada;” Roman Catholics cite the Second Vatican Council of 1964, which “exhorts the Catholic faithful to recognize the signs of the times and take an active and intelligent part in the work of ecumenism.”

To that end, the two congregations began initiating pulpit exchanges, shared a Lenten study series, held joint Bible studies, and hosted events for the seniors of both churches. They exchanged prayer requests in their Sunday bulletins.

All the while, a Joint Ecumenical Committee of clergy and laypeople was working on Covenant 2000, a simply worded formal document with 10 pledges that pertain to growing and living together in the unity of Christ.

The recent signing ceremony at the Saskatoon Centre for Ecumenism saw two inscribed documents signed by Roman Catholic Bishop James Weisgerber and Grace Tannahill, chair of the Saskatoon Presbytery of the United Church of Canada. The covenants will be framed and presented to the respective churches during Act Three, a joint service of Celebration which will be held at Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church on March 5.

McClure pastor Joan Brown says the joint prayer service formalizing the covenant will involve ministry personnel and representatives from both congregations.

Two identical quilted banners bearing symbols of covenant and God’s direction and grace as well as the logos of the two congregations will be presented. Brown says identical hand-turned pottery chalices will also be exchanged, “recognizing that we do not have full Eucharistic communion yet, but we wait in hope and prayer that that day will come.”

Faithfulness is de Margerie’s title for Act Four of the play. “In it,” he says, “our two congregations will do their best by the grace of God to be faithful together. We are covenanting to hold regular public prayer for each other and for the unity of all Christians. There will be worship and ministry exchanges; joint educational and social justice programs; enhanced communication to broaden understanding of each church’s theology, beliefs and traditions; and celebration of fellowship and social gatherings.

“We don’t yet know all of the final act. We have taken many steps, but we have more miles to go in building mutual understanding and submitting to the will of Christ in being one.”

“This is larger than the parish,” said Weisgerber. “We see in St. John how important unity was to Jesus and His plan. His words at The Last Supper were: `The nations will know I am in the Father if you love one another.’ What is happening here is pleasing to the heart of our Lord.

“The unity of the Church is a struggle we really have to work at. The only place the church exists is at the local level and every gesture is significant. Unity is not just political compromise. There are many acts of love that we can do at the individual level to reach out to the poor and lost. The soul of unity we’re looking for is given to us by the Holy Spirit, which draws us closer and closer to Jesus.”

The joint celebration service will be held March 5 at 10:30 a.m. at Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church, 114 Kingsmere Place. It will be followed by a procession to McClure United Church for a gathering of social celebration. Visitors are very welcome.

Posted: Feb. 26, 2000 • Permanent link:
Categories: NewsIn this article: Catholic, Christian unity, covenant, ecumenism, Saskatoon, United Church of Canada
Transmis : 26 févr. 2000 • Lien permanente :
Catégorie : NewsDans cet article : Catholic, Christian unity, covenant, ecumenism, Saskatoon, United Church of Canada

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