Churches around the world kicked off on Tuesday The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
And ecumenical leaders are emphasizing that the week is "not just a nice occasion for friends to gather."
Rather, "it is a time to give thanks to God for the gift and promise of unity, to be renewed in our ecumenical resolve by the assurance of God’s leading, and to recommit ourselves to participate in what God is doing to overcome the barriers between God’s children," said the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches. more >>
A group of church leaders issued what it claims to be the first and only clergy response to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail."
Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A. – which includes leaders from Protestant, Catholic, Pentecostal, Orthodox and evangelical churches – said in a one-page letter that though virtually all church bodies have made formal statements against racism, many have failed to go beyond "spoken commitments."
"Too often we have elected to be comfortable rather than prophetic. Too often we have chosen not to see the evidence of a racism that is less overt but still permeates our national life in corrosive ways," they lamented. more >>
The Lutheran World Federation has invited the pope to work together in preparing for the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
In a message Thursday to Pope Benedict XVI, LWF President Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan said the anniversary in 2017 will not only be a time of celebrating the liberating power of the Gospel but also a time to reflect on ecumenical progress.
He called the anniversary a "test case" for ecumenical relations. more >>
Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to meet with the new general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, on Saturday.
Speaking ahead of the meeting at the Vatican, Tveit said he expected to discuss some of the challenges facing the global body of Christ, including ongoing efforts towards church unity and the plight of Christians in the Middle East.
“It is important that we speak honestly in this meeting about the challenges we have,” Tveit said. “There are expectations for the ecumenical movement that have not been fulfilled, and there are tensions arising in and between churches. more >>
While church leaders from across denominations discuss new directions for the 100-year-old ecumenical movement, one conservative Christian believes major changes need to be made in order for there to even be a future.
"Sadly, over the last 50 years, it (the ecumenical movement) has faded into the sidelines and is now largely ignored," said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, which monitors mainline denominations and ecumenical groups.
Some 400 people from various mainline Protestant churches and Catholic and Orthodox traditions opened a celebratory gathering on Tuesday in New Orleans, marking 100 years of the ecumenical or Christian unity movement. more >>
Christian leaders have convened in New Orleans this week to celebrate 100 years of ecumenical cooperation.
More than 400 people from the National Council of Churches and its humanitarian arm, Church World Service, opened the three-day anniversary event on Tuesday with the aim of unifying the church.
"In one sense, this event will be a 'celebration' of modern ecumenism," said NCC General Secretary the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon in a statement. "But it will also [be] a time for assessing the churches’ failure to receive God’s gift of unity, for anticipating new directions for ecumenism in the 21st Century, and for recommitting ourselves and our churches to the ecumenical calling." more >>