Ministry and clergy workshop held at cathedral

 — Feb. 6, 20136 févr. 2013

by Kiply Lukan Yaworski

SASKATOON — Ministry leaders, priests and pastors from different Christian denominations in Saskatoon gathered Jan. 23 for a workshop held at the Cathedral of the Holy Family as part of the new De Margerie Series on Christian Unity and Reconciliation.

Bishop Gregory Cameron of the Anglican Diocese of St. Asaph in Wales led the morning workshop held in the middle of the 2013 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, offering leaders “pointers for the ecumenical quest” and encouraging discussion and practical goal-setting for the year ahead.

Looking for Christ in the other is vital, said Cameron. “There is a danger, I think, in the ecumenical context, that we start using our head quite a lot, and begin our critique of other traditions, without remembering to look for the Christ who is at work in one another.”

He described his own life story, relating his growing understanding of ecumenism, and his conversion of heart from a time as a young deacon and priest when he looked down on other traditions.

“I am glad to say that I have repented of those attitudes. I have repented of them because I have seen Christ at work in the other. I have seen enormous holiness exercised by Baptist and Presbyterian friends. I have seen huge endeavours in mission in social justice and working for peace and reconciliation amongst my Baptist and Catholic friends, I have seen powerful works and testimonies of faith in contexts now all around the world and all of that impels me to be ecumenical.”

Cameron recommended making friends as a sound ecumenical principle. “When you begin to become friends of those from other traditions, then you can begin to appreciate the integrity of their own positions; appreciate the things about Christian faith which work for them and drive them forward in their faith. And when you become friends, you are able to ask questions and to be honest in a way which is impossible if you keep each other at a distance.”

When ecumenical relationships are difficult, that’s the time to redouble our friendship and commitment, Cameron stressed. “This is the time to build communion and not break communion.”

He pointed to his own time as a leader of worldwide ecumenical relations for the Anglican Communion, when his strong friendship with Donald Bolen of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity (now Bishop Bolen of Saskatoon) helped to smooth the way between Anglican and Roman Catholic dialogue partners. “We could have honest conversations about the issues that were going on, and we were only able to do that because we had learned to trust one another as friends.”

Generosity and hospitality are another “double principle” of the ecumenical quest, Cameron stressed. He quoted the prayer of a character created by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas: “And Thou God, I know, wilt be the first to see our best side, not our worst.”

Cameron urged pastoral leaders to be just as generous in their assessment of others.

Cameron also recommended reading widely as a principle in the ecumenical quest. “Absorb the texts and teachings and the spiritual writings of other traditions as well as of our own,” he said. “We will learn. We will understand. We will be enriched in our faith.”

Speaking truth in love is vital in the important “dialogue of truth” that we undertake with Christians of different traditions, he continued. “We need to be able to speak the truth in love and to justify what we believe — but to do that in a way which is not condemnation.”

He added: “I think there is a huge difference in ecumenical dialogue between saying: ‘We believe this because we understand this to be true,’ and ‘You are wrong in believing that because it doesn’t meet our standards.’ ” Cameron emphasized the importance of speaking from our own convictions, rather than critiquing or condemning the beliefs of others.

“To be honest, I believe there are several questions in the ‘dialogue of truth’ that I think will be almost impossible to see a way through at the moment. There are disagreements between our Christian traditions, and it is enormously difficult to see how we are going to resolve some of them,” he said. “But I am certain in this: that if we are faithful in prayer and in praying together, the Lord will see us through.”

Cameron quoted former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams: “To be a Christian is to stand at the foot of the cross and therefore, as Christians, we stand together at the foot of the cross, rather than running away. To turn away from each other is to turn away from the cross.”

Posted: Feb. 6, 2013 • Permanent link:
Categories: NewsIn this article: Christian unity, De Margerie Series, ecumenism, Gregory Cameron
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