Baptist Times reports this week:
THE ECUMENICAL movement in the UK is arguably in serious trouble, according to a senior Baptist ecumenical statesman.The Revd Dr Keith Clements, formerly general secretary of the Conference of European Churches, has issued an open letter to the Churches of the UK arising from a 24-hour ecumenical consultation in Bristol recently.
The ecumenical movement is, he says, 'seen by many as a failing, lost or irrelevant cause', with some talking of an 'ecumenical winter'.
There are, he says in Called to be One - What Now? genuine difficulties regarding ecumenical work, including Church decline, divisions within Churches on ethical issues, and culture shift away from organisations towards personal relationships. However, he adds, 'In such a situation it is all too easy to drift into sheer resignation and to forget that the call to visible unity is not an optional extra but a central and urgent imperative of the Gospel.'
Called to be One urges the Church to revisit the 20-year-old commitments of the Swanwick Declaration which set out the principles of modern ecumenical engagement, and particularly the statement that 'our churches must now move from co-operation to clear commitment to each other, in search of the unity for which Christ prayed and in common evangelism and service of the world'.
Churches, Dr Clements argues, should ask themselves serious questions about what changes they would need to make to fulfill this vision, and what is blocking the path to unity - which at least, he says, means mutual recognition of ministries and fellowship at the Lord's Table.
He urged fuller discussion of the report at denominational and local levels by anyone concerned about ecumenical life. It is available by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
The full letter can be read here.