Centre for Ecumenism draws on new resources

 — Oct. 30, 200430 oct. 2004

The Prairie Centre for Ecumenism has much to celebrate: new premises, a new director, and 20 years of bringing people of faith together.

Board member Rev. Hugh Farmer says the location change has been in the works for a while, but the actual move from Second Avenue began in May. PCE‘s new home is the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) building on 45th Street West.

Farmer says the relocation is an excellent one in many ways.

“One plus is that establishing participation with the Mennonite community enters us into a whole different area of ecumenism. To this point, it has been the PLURA, or mainline denominations like Anglican, Lutheran, Roman Catholic and United Church who have been the core of the Prairie Centre of Ecumenism. Our desire has always been to expand contact with the more evangelical denominations that are a significant part of this community.”

Farmer sees another plus in the fact PCE is bringing an extensive library to the MCC that will contribute to expanding its work and library resources.

Prairie Centre for Ecumenism also has a new director. The position came available when former director Sister Anne Keffer resigned to take a call to become directress for her order in Chicago. Farmer says, “Her departure at the end of August left a huge gap.”

The new director is Dr. Janet Bigland-Pritchard, originally from Saskatoon and a graduate of the Colleges of Emmanuel & St. Chad.

“Janet is an Anglican coming to us from England, where she has been involved in further studies. She has also been teaching courses on ecumenism in the UK and brings a different, more international perspective on ecumenism that we haven’t had before,” he said.

The PCE position is a half-time appointment; Bigland-Pritchard hopes to get a part-time call in an Anglican church within the diocese, as well. She begins her duties at PCE in the new year.

Farmer is pleased with the way the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism is continuing to grow and expand.

“Our challenge is to broaden our horizons — not only with other denominations, but within the present denominations so that it is not seen as the work of only a few.”

And while the perception is that the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism is a Saskatoon organization, in reality, as its name suggests, it serves as the centre for ecumenism for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

“All the way to Winnipeg,” Farmer says, “there is no other centre for ecumenism. That means we continue to work to establish contacts in the major centres in order to expand ecumenism in Western Canada.

“We try to work with local people in various other centres who are interested in ecumenism. It’s a matter of working with what already exists and encouraging them to co-ordinate and work together.”

It is interesting to note that outside of Montreal where the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism is located, Saskatoon is the hub of ecumenical work in Canada. Farmer says that is a result, in large part, of the visionary work and goals of people like Father Bernard de Marjerie, who established the centre here 20 years ago.

To mark the anniversary, a service of celebration is scheduled for Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. on the second floor of the Mennonite Central Committee Building, 600 45th St. West. It will include a message from Lutheran Bishop Cindy Halmarson and participation from various church leaders. Bigland-Pritchard will be introduced and the new facility will be blessed.

Farmer says the service is a time for worship and fellowship and everyone is welcome.

“Part of our celebration is to say: we are making progress. Originally, the PCE began under the auspices of the Roman Catholic church. It was their initial financial input and their key involvement that began it. Now we have expanded way beyond that.

“We are a essentially a Christian organization, but one thing Sr. Anne Keffer was able to do through Multi-Faith Saskatoon was open up dialogue between the Christian church and other faiths.”

Such dialogue, he says, broadens perspective and expands understanding. “It helps us know who we are. It helps you understand what you believe and why you believe it.

“The work of ecumenism is also important in a spiritual sense. It goes back to Jesus’ prayer for his people that we would be one as he and the Father are one.”

He cites Ephesians 4:4-6 where the Apostle Paul appeals for unity in the church: “There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Farmer says: “As long as we are in different religious groups, there’s still work to be done.”

Posted: Oct. 30, 2004 • Permanent link: ecumenism.net/?p=6019
Categories: NewsIn this article: Prairie Centre for Ecumenism, Saskatoon
Transmis : 30 oct. 2004 • Lien permanente : ecumenism.net/?p=6019
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