Churches sign covenant agreement

 — Mar. 8, 20008 mars 2000

SASKATOON — It was more than 30 years in the making but on Sunday, parishioners from Holy Spirit Roman Catholic and McClure United parishes stood side by side.

Old and young sang beautifully together. They taught their children together, hugged, prayed and worshipped as brothers and sisters in Christ at Holy Spirit Parish. Afterward, they walked together through the streets of Saskatoon to break bread together at a community lunch at McClure United.

This was done to mark the signing of a new covenant between the parishes which has been discussed since 1966 and which both pastors hope will mark the beginning of an even better relationship.

“I believe this to be the will and the work of the Holy Spirit that has brought us to this moment. It is not merely our efforts or our decisions,” said McClure’s Rev. Ron McConnell.

Holy Spirit pastor, Rev. Bernard de Margerie, agreed. He said the covenant means that the two congregations pledge to grow together to “help create a more stable relationship that is more worthy of life within the Body of Christ.”

In his portion of the joint sermon, McConnell compared the covenant relationship to a marriage.

“The questions people most often ask about the covenant include: ‘Does this mean you’re exactly the same now? Do you now see everything the same way? There are no more differences?” The answer is — are you kidding? Does that sound like any marriage you have ever known?’ ” he said.

McConnell noted that in the covenant, as in a marriage, “what unites us is always more important than what divides us. It’s not to say the differences and disagreements aren’t important. It’s just that when your love, respect and commitment to one another are at their firmest and fullest that you are able to give those differences your proper attention. You can give one another a fair hearing and honour the challenges and growth of being different.”

He said that over the past 30 years, Holy Spirit and McClure United congregations have been “falling in love” with one another.

“And like love, Christian unity is always a gift from God. We don’t know where this will take us or what God has in store but I think we have a hopeful uncertainty,” he said.

De Margerie said Pope John Paul II’s letter on Christian unity (1995) suggests that if congregations are able to persevere in common prayer, three things will happen:

“One, they will become aware of something new and realize that what unites us is more deep and fundamental than what divides us,” he said. “Second, we gain courage to face what we have to face and third, we will grow in our communion inside the Body of Christ. You can’t truly pray together without growing closer together. It’s impossible.”

De Margerie warned, however, that it will be necessary to “pray with the kind of prayer that will be costly” and rely on the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit and the strength of Christ.

He said the new covenant is not simply an agreement between two congregations but a covenant based on the foundation of the great covenant between God and Jesus and all of humanity.

Archie McKay, leader of the Holy Spirit parish council, said the new covenant should make a difference to each person in the pew in terms of awareness, appreciation of one another’s traditions and a new sense of sharing between the two congregations. He acknowledged, however, that not everyone in the congregations is happy about the new path they have chosen.

“We’re very aware there are some on both sides who are still hanging on to grudges. Like anything else, we need to pray and to work through these difficulties,” he said.

Radio-Canada television report on the ecumenical covenant service, March 5, 2000 between Holy Spirit Parish and McClure United Church

The Covenant reads as follows:

“In the name of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, we the people and clergy of McClure United Church and Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Parish, in response to the call of Jesus ‘that they may all be one and so that the world may believe that you have sent me,’ (Jn 17:21-23) join in a covenant of Christian love, understanding and faithfulness to the Gospel.

“In witness to the wider church and to the world: We acknowledge the fractured Body of Christ and the need for healing.

“We rejoice in the gift of unity that Jesus Christ gives us and we celebrate the real, though imperfect, communion that we share.

“We recognize the value of our respective traditions and pledge to encourage one another to grow in them in a manner that unites rather than divides.

“In joyful thanksgiving and with prayerful deliberation, we commit ourselves to live out and grow in the unity that Christ wills for us and we pledge to:

1. Engage in regular public prayer for each other and for the unity of all Christians.
2. Come together from time to time for shared prayer.
3. Invite members of either faith community as welcome guests at the worship services of others, with participation according to the current discipline of each denomination.
4. Engage in an exchange of preaching, music or other worship ministry at least once every six months.
5. Enhance communication by sharing Sunday bulletin, newsletter and bulletin board materials.
6. Plan joint educational activities to broaden our understanding of the theology of the church, including our respective beliefs and traditions.
7. Share in joint social justice action on an ongoing basis.
8. Promote and celebrate fellowship through social gatherings.
9. Support and encourage the joint steering committee of our two faith communities in proposing creative ways to further enrich our common life and faith and in facilitating the review and renewal of this Covenant.
10. Reflect on and celebrate this covenant on each anniversary.”

Posted: Mar. 8, 2000 • Permanent link:
Categories: NewsIn this article: Catholic, Christian unity, covenant, ecumenism, Saskatoon, United Church of Canada
Transmis : 8 mars 2000 • Lien permanente :
Catégorie : NewsDans cet article : Catholic, Christian unity, covenant, ecumenism, Saskatoon, United Church of Canada

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