The next step in the ecumenical initiative, ‘In Joyful Hope: A New Step in Eucharistic Fellowship,’ will take place on Monday 7 March at 8 pm in St Mark’s Church of Ireland in Newtownards.
In previous posts, I’ve explained the rationale behind the initiative. Headed up by six clergy from various denominations, its aim is to provide all Christians with an opportunity to fellowship with each other around the communion table – even if they are prevented by the official discipline of their churches from eating the bread and drinking the wine together.
As the group’s promotional flyer reads:
‘…we firmly believe that the joy of being present at the Eucharistic worship of another Christian tradition is greater than the pain experienced by observing this Eucharistic discipline. Thereby we hope that we will contribute to bringing nearer the day on which we may share in a common Eucharist.’
I think that the initiative bears a powerful witness to the desire of these Christians to break down what they perceive as the unnecessary walls that prevent full communion. They also believe that prohibitions on shared communion unnecessarily damage Christian witness to the wider world.
If Christians can’t love each other enough to find a way to share a common Eucharist, what does that say to those outside the church looking in?
My post about the event at St Bernard’s, ‘Surprised by Ecumenism,’ conveys a sense of the spirit and enthusiasm that surrounded that event, held during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Christine Dawson, a student on our Master’s in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation, wrote a guest post about her experience at Knock Methodist, including this quote from Fr Gerry Reynolds:
Words spoken by Fr Gerry Reynolds were brief but wonderfully concise and they ended on the subject of all Christians needing to hold Christian unity as their ultimate aim and needing to say to each other ‘without you I’m less than I really am.’
My original post about the initiative contains a fuller explanation of its purpose and rationale.