This week I attended the National Workshop on Christian Unity, which ironically (or not?) met this year at the same time as the first Papal Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States. The division of the churches and the need for a more united witness was addressed by Pope Benedict during his homily at an ecumenical service at St. Joseph's on Friday. While the Second Vatican Council would commit the Roman Catholic Church to ecumenical work, the NWCU was founded in 1963--before the council concluded--by a group of Roman Catholics to begin educating themselves about ecumenism. In 1969, they invited other Christians to join them and since then, an annual workshop has been held to provide educational opportunities for local ecumenical leaders. Various denominational ecumenical networks, such as the Lutheran Ecumenical Representative Network (LERN), also meet during the NWCU.
The theme for this year's workshop was "Pray without ceasing." Sister Dr. Lorelei Fuchs preached at the opening worship and the new general secretary of the National Council of Churches, Dr. Michael Kinnamon, gave the keynote address. Workshop seminars were held on topics that ranged from specific bilateral dialogues to the Emerging Church movement. I was unaware of this Workshop until I was invited to be part of a panel for one of the seminars (I was part of a panel on "Beyond Bilaterals"that discussed the significance of the United Methodist Church signing onto the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification).
My purpose in writing this brief post is to draw more attention to this event in hopes that some of my current and former students might consider attending and becoming more involved in ecumenical work!