FOR MAKING ECUMENICAL CONNECTIONS
Congregations and communities are encouraged
to try out some of the ideas listed below. .
You are invited to increase this list by sending your contribution
Vermont Ecumenical Council at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Arrange for a “Table Talk”.
Gather folks from neighboring churches. Provide coffee and tea,
dessert and an informal atmosphere for conversation. A couple
of sample questions might be: ‘what do we have in common?’;
‘in what ways are we different?’; ‘what would
church be like if we lived out being ‘one in Christ?’
- Host a hymn sing at which each denomination is
invited to choose the hymn(s) that best describes/represents/inspires
the tradition. Participants come prepared with copies of the hymn(s)
for all and a brief description of the importance of these hymns.
- Invite the local historical society to help plan
a guided walk to/through each of the churches.
- Set up a schedule to pray for each of the congregations
in the community on a separate Sunday.
- Sunday School children can learn about other
churches in their neighborhood and exchange visits with the children
in another Sunday School class. Most denominations have study
series that explore other faith traditions.
- Hosting and leading an informative program at
each worship space. Programs might include an introduction to
a typical worship service; a brief outline of history, polity
and central doctrine of the tradition; a discussion of the uniqueness
of the hosting congregation (architecture, local ministry, etc).
A light reception is an effective way to foster fellowship and
reflection. Local clergy, in communication with their congregation,
agree upon a day of the week and time for these brief gatherings
for as many weeks as there are participants.
- Join the ‘slow food movement’. Bring
together a group. Choose a home and a day. and invite each person
to bring the ingredients for one course of a meal. Prepare the
food together. Pray together. Eat together. Clean up together.
Take the time to get to know one another in this setting of the
‘house church’ model.
- Set up a short term book study. Or bring together
the persons most involved and and interested in adult education
to share and discuss what each church is studying. From this exchange
might come a community wide reading/study opportunity.
- Consider the idea of a “Children’s
Sabbath”. On this day churches of many denominations hold
intergenerational worship services: resources are available.
- Organize an ‘invite-a-friend’ or
Friendship Day. This approach was taken in a small town in New
York State. It is a vision of doing evangelism in a cooperative
rather than a competitive mode, and to giving life to a community
rather that just building up individual congregations. The invitation
said, “We don’t want to simply shift the attendance
from when a single church has an Invite-A-Friend Sunday. By involving
every church possible, we wish to change the focus to inviting
those who rarely or never go to worship”
- Eventually some forty congregations, Protestant
and Catholic, in eleven surrounding towns participated in the
day. The event took extensive planning (five months) and extensive
promotion. The success of the effort was less in terms of the
numbers but in planting the idea of an ecumenical approach to
- Choose a local work project for congregations
in the community to work on together. Sign up
work teams from each of the churches and match these teams with
teams from other churches to ensure ecumenical fellowship. Establish
a practice of prayer in the midst of the work.
- Ponder a model that seeks to practice Christian
unity and to express locally in a visible way, through the one
sacrament we share in common: holy baptism. The Capital Area Council
of Churches (Albany NY) embraced 90 churches and 16 denominations
in this plan. Simply put, weeks prior to a baptism a Coordinator
calls pre-designated Witnesses from each congregation to be present
for the baptism (further details available).
- A number of churches are part of the PINS project
(Partners in Service). A church group ‘adopts’ a social
worker in their local SRS office. If that worker needs something
for a child who is in protective services (a back pack, a teddy
bear, a warm winter jacket, for example), they ask the church
group (if interested, contact the VEC office at email@example.com)