Ecumenical and interfaith ideas
"The truth is the centre of all religion," Mary Baker Eddy wrote. Here, you'll find ideas that honor that center, the "circle of faith" of which we're all a part. We hope they are helpful as you listen and contribute to the healing dialogue going on between faiths worldwide.
Christian Science in the Christian Community
Mary Baker Eddy wrote regarding Easter Services, “In the United States there shall be no special observances, festivities, nor gifts at the Easter season by members of The Mother Church. Gratitude and love should abide in every heart each day of all the years” (Manual of The Mother Church, page 60).
Recently, three ecumenical organizations-- Churches Uniting in Christ, Christian Churches Together, and The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA-- issued together a statement about Easter, including the following message: “To the leadership and members of Christian Churches in the United States of America: Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus the Christ! We come to you in a spirit of unity during this difficult period of time with an invitation to join together in witnessing to the resurrection of Jesus for all in the United States to see. On Easter, we celebrate the power of Christ to overcome evil and death. As proclaimed in the Gospel of John, ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (John 1:5).’ This is the message of Easter and, despite any differences we may have among us, this year may be the perfect time for all of us to come together to make witness to Christ’s resurrecting power.”
What a wonderful opportunity we have this Easter and every day to embrace the world in our prayers and love and to witness resurrection as defined by Mary Baker Eddy: “RESURRECTION. Spiritualization of thought; a new and higher idea of immortality, or spiritual existence; material belief yielding to spiritual understanding” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, page 593).
“He is risen!”
The Mother Church Ecumenical Team
By The Ecumenical Team
The annual meeting of the National Workshop on Christian Unity is being held March 23-26, 2020 in Houston, Texas. The title of this year's NWCU workshop is “Welcoming all as Christ.”
This yearly event was first held in 1969 for the purpose of providing opportunities for Christians of any denomination to meet and strengthen the “unity which already exists among Christians and search for ways to overcome divisions.” This conference is designed to support members of individual denominations in their desire to learn and practice what it means to come together with other Christians. Therefore the first day of the conference is a time that attendees can meet with their own denomination’s members for discussions and sharing. During the next few days of the conference there are opportunities for discussions and exchanges between members of various denominations.
On the first day of the conference, the Ecumenical Team members of the Mother Church, and others from the Committee on Publication, will host an interactive meeting for attending Christian Scientists on various topics related to ecumenical and interfaith work. The metaphysical theme for our meeting is also “Welcoming all as Christ.”
The meeting will be held in Houston, Texas, and we appreciate your prayers in support of it. If you would like information on registration, hotel, and workshop costs, please visit their website at http://nwcu.org/. Please email us at email@example.com to let us know if you have questions and/or will be attending. It will help us plan our ecumenical/interfaith workshop and keep you informed of necessary details and location for our gathering on Monday, March 23rd.
The Mother Church Ecumenical Team
By The Ecumenical Team
The ecumenical team has been praying and thinking together about what, at this time, are the most valuable topics to cover with our Circle of Faith blogs. Thank you for your patience during our hiatus from blogging over the past year.
Central to ecumenical work is the engagement in loving, face-to-face conversations with Christians. Every Christian Scientist has these types of conversations, and the ecumenical team consistently hears from those who wish to improve their ability to make these ecumenical exchanges as well as interfaith engagements clear and constructive.
The ongoing questions are: What inspiration, Scriptural passages, and interpretations are appropriate to share in various situations? What do others believe about these ideas and theological points? How does that compare with what Christian Science teaches? When there is misunderstanding or conflict, how can I respond in a healing way? How can my conversation partner and both I gain new light by listening deeply, acknowledging commonalities, recognizing gifts, honoring distinctions, and offering clarifications?
Individual answers come to each one through prayer, deepening study of the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy's writings, practical experience speaking with others, and a pure motive to give an accurate understanding of Christian Science and Mary Baker Eddy. There is no one right answer to any ecumenical or interfaith question. So, we hope what we offer here, through both short and medium-length blogs, are insights about conversation starters, constructive exchanges based on Scripture and other topics, essential theological points, and explanations, so that all of our interactions with others can be as clear, helpful, and rewarding as possible.
We look forward to our conversations with you, our fellow Christians, and people of all faiths.
The Mother Church’s ecumenical team
By Susan Humble and Susan Jostyn
Beloved Community--A Call to Holiness.” This title reminds us of Mary Baker Eddy’s reference to community in her Message to The Mother Church for ’01: “I can use the power that God gives me in no way except in the interest of individual and community” (Message 01: 31:14-16). What this means to us is that as we prayerfully attend to our own needs as well as those of other individuals, we must also consider how God is empowering us to minister to the interests of the various communities of which we are members. Caring for the community as one cares for the individual is a natural corollary of the Golden Rule taught by Jesus: “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 7:12) One essential element of care for any community is to prayerfully affirm that it belongs to God and is therefore called to be holy as God is holy (Biblical ref).
NWCU is sponsored by the National Ecumenical Officers Association (NEOA)--a community that cares deeply about “celebrating the unity which already exists among Christians and searching for ways to overcome the divisions that remain.” To this end, the NEOA designed the NWCU conference to support individual denominations in developing and exercising their ecumenical skills. Therefore first day of the 3 ½ day NWCU conference is set aside for members of denominations to attend their own denominational meetings for discussions and sharing. And, there is a similar follow up near the end of the conference. In the interim there are plenty of opportunities for exchanges between attendees who may be “laity, clergy, ecumenical officers, theologians, staff of ecumenical organizations”, and so on (http://nwcu.org/who-we-are/).
As members of the larger Christian community, the Christian Science community, and the ecumenical team working within the Committee on Publication office for The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, we will be attending this year’s NWCU. We and other Christian Science attendees will gather together with other members of the Ecumenical Team and Committee on Publication office for discussions related to the conference theme and prayerful approaches to ecumenical work. The meeting will be held in St. Louis, Mo., if you would like information on registration, hotel, and workshop costs, please visit their website at http://nwcu.org/. Please email us at Circle of Faith, firstname.lastname@example.org, to let us know if you will be attending. It will help us plan our ecumenical workshop for Christian Scientists and keep you informed of plans for our time together.
How does The First Church of Christ, Scientist participate in ecumenical affairs?
Ecumenical Affairs works under the auspices of the Committee on Publication, and is engaged in ‘correcting in a Christian manner’ the misconceptions of Christian Science, particularly within the Christian community. Ecumenical team activities include writing pieces that appear on christianscience.com and articles for The Christian Science Journal and Christian Science Sentinel, and participating in ecumenical conferences, meetings, and organizations such as the National Council of Churches.
What is ecumenism?
Ecumenism is a worldwide movement among Christians to promote unity between Christian churches or denominations (or ‘communions’) in response to Jesus’ prayer that we be one (John 17:21). It recognizes the body of Christ in its entirety, learning to understand the ways, values, and communications styles of our fellow Christians. Ecumenical dialogue is vibrant and respectful, welcoming the gifts of others, while maintaining the integrity and purpose of each Christian faith tradition.
Why should Christian Scientists participate?
The ongoing dialogue with Christian leaders, clergy, and religion educators allows everyone to grasp better the idea exactly why Christian Science is Christian.
All churches and denominations are concerned with maintaining the purity of their ideas and practice of religion, and the ecumenical dialogue respects that integrity in others. It is with a spirit of humility that Christians value one another's faith and service to the common cause of Christianity. As we learn from others, we often find ourselves learning to appreciate and articulate better our own denominational roots. We have the opportunity to cultivate bonds of love and dispel misunderstandings. Ecumenism is one of many ways to practice active Christianity.
One of the most compelling reasons Christian Scientists have become ecumenically involved is that other Christians have been asking for us to participate in the greater dialogue and especially to explain and share our unique gifts more widely.
Talking to other Christians about Christian Science
One of the greatest stumbling blocks to successful ecumenical engagement can be the language we use. Every church or denomination has its own jargon, which can be baffling or unwittingly offensive to others. Without understanding the language, culture, and history of others, we often find ourselves trying to share our most precious ideas only to discover they mean something entirely different to our listeners. With love for others, we make the effort to learn their Christian ‘language’ in order to communicate the greatest depth of thought. Just as we maintain our own culture and identity when we learn a foreign language, we also maintain the identity of Christian Science while we learn the Christian practices and theology of others.
Prayer and insights about ecumenical engagement
Getting our assumptions right in interfaith work by Brian Talcott
Opening closed doors by Maryl Walters
Invitation to worship by Kristin Jamerson
What Christian Scientists Believe (Video) by Madelon Maupin, Brian Talcott, Eric Nelson
Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon (who first invited the Christian Science Church to engage in the ecumenical movement, 2008)
Video: Mary Baker Eddy — A Heart in Protest
Responding to common questions
Michael Kinnamon talks about the meaning of ecumenical dialogue (YouTube video)
Discussion with Michael Kinnamon about Christian Science in ecumenical dialogue (in The Christian Science Journal)