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Workshop on Christian Unity to meet in Washington

Oct. 2, 2006

A UMNS Report
By Linda Bloom*

The quest for unity among Christian denominations isn’t always evident from the pews of the local church.

That’s why Allen Johnson is encouraging United Methodists to participate in the 2007 National Workshop on Christian Unity Jan. 29-Feb. 1 in the Washington area.

Johnson, a layperson from White Bluff, Tenn., is chairman of the workshop planning committee and a member of the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns.

The workshop gives both laity and clergy “the sense there is an ongoing effort by the communions to reconcile their differences,” according to Johnson.

He noted that the differences often are related to traditions, rather than doctrinal issues. However, traditions must be respected and honored as well, added Johnson, who said he has become “more and more aware of the significance of traditions that are taking on doctrinal weight.”

Understanding of unity issues can be gained through information and dialogue available at the workshop. “People are much more accepting when they know the nature of the differences (among communions),” Johnson said.

Two worship services scheduled during the workshop are of particular interest to United Methodists. An Episcopal-Lutheran-United Methodist Eucharist will be celebrated at 6 p.m. Jan. 30 at Arlington Temple United Methodist Church. The service highlights the interim Eucharist-sharing agreements that the United Methodists have with the other two communions. United Methodist Bishop Charlene Kammerer of Virginia is expected to participate.

A worship service related to Churches Uniting in Christ, of which the United Methodist Church is a member communion, is planned for 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 31 at Metropolitan AME Church.

Other highlights of the workshop include an opening prayer service and reception at the Washington National Cathedral; a keynote address by Brother Jeffrey Gros, a Roman Catholic long involved in ecumenism; Bible study led by the Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell of the National Council of Churches; a panel on faith and politics; and an optional evening cultural event on the Washington Mall.

In addition, participants can choose from eight daily seminars on critical ecumenical issues and attend meetings of denominational networks.

The Key Bridge Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va., is the headquarters for the event. Updated information and online registration is available at, the workshop Web site.

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or

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