|Workshop offers ecumenical training|
Feb. 19, 2009 | NEW YORK (UMNS)
United Methodists interested in broadening their understanding of
ecumenical cooperation are invited to attend special training sessions
The Rev. Stephen Sidorak Jr.
The sessions are part of the National Workshop on Christian Unity, which takes place April 27-30 at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix.
This is the first time that specific United Methodist programming is
being offered, according to Wendy Whiteside, an executive with the
denomination’s Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious
Concerns. The workshop, sponsored by the National Association of
Ecumenical Officers, is marking its 42nd year.
Blending the denominational focus into a workshop that already was
in the travel budget of numerous annual conferences was important, not
just for the sake of economy but to assist the many conference
representatives new to the area of Christian unity, she said.
“They’ve got a lot of interest and enthusiasm, but they need some guidance,” Whiteside said.
The Rev. Stephen Sidorak Jr., top executive of the Commission on
Christian Unity, has attended the national workshop for more than 25
years, most of that time in his previous role as director of state
council of churches in Colorado and Connecticut. Last year, he said, he
sensed some frustration on the part of United Methodists in attendance
about the lack of specific denominational training.
He decided the commission needed to take an active role in arranging
such training for the 2009 event. “I’m always looking for ways in which
we can educate and mentor new ecumenical leadership, particularly the
younger generation,” he added.
Exposure to other traditions
By providing such opportunities at the National Workshop on
Christian Unity, United Methodists who participate have “the added
benefit of exposure to the other major Christian traditions,” Sidorak
As a whole, the workshop event:
- Provides information, resources and networking opportunities for clergy, laity, theologians and ecumenical officers and staff.
- Encourages an exchange of ideas and experiences among those concerned with Christian unity.
- Makes the connection among local, regional and national practitioners of Christian unity.
- Promotes the development and interaction of denominational networks.
- Celebrates the unity that already exists among Christians and searches for ways to overcome divisions that remain.
Featured speakers in Phoenix will include:
- The Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, a Presbyterian and president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.
- Margaret Mitchell, professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
- Metropolitan Gerasimos of the Greek Archdiocese of San Francisco.
Rev. Cecil “Mel” Robeck, Jr., professor of church history and ecumenics
and director of the David J. DuPlessis Center for Christian
Spirituality at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif.
Seminars and ecumenical worship services also are scheduled.
The United Methodist sessions begin with a full day on April 27,
including a general orientation and discussion of responsibilities,
resources and case studies related to Christian unity.
Bishop Minerva Carcaño of Phoenix, a former member of the Commission
on Christian Unity, will speak at a luncheon on April 28. Speakers at
the afternoon session that day will include David Fraccaro, young adult
ecumenical formation coordinator for the U.S. Conference for the World
Council of Churches.
Sessions on April 29 include a discussion of the denomination’s
quadrennial goals and tentative plans for an evening film viewing. On
April 30, following the workshop’s closing lunch, United Methodists
will meet a final time, Whiteside said, hopefully to establish a
network similar to what already exists for other denominations.
The objective, she added, is to “share a focus, a plan and a goal that can help them in their annual conferences.”
Additional information and registration details for the National Workshop on Christian Unity is available at www.nwcu.org.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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