Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ecumenism -- First anniversary, part two

Methodist Church where the first Sunday Mass was offered
An important aspect of being a Glenmary Home Missioner is to engage in ecumenical activity, that is to develop relationships with other Christian churches and ministers.  The ease in which this has happened in Union and Grainger County as been one of the biggest surprises.

Pastor Frank, one of the members of the men's prayer group
When we arrived in Union County preparation for the first ever ecumenical event was underway. A large march against drugs and alcohol abuse followed by a prayer service in the park was scheduled.  We took an active role in this march.  Also, we attended the next two prayers at the court house that followed.  This allowed us early on to meet some of the local Christians and pastors. 

Around this same time, we received an invitation to join the men's prayer group on Wednesday mornings at Revival Vision Church of God.  Pastor Jim is the only other full time pastor in the area that I am aware of us.  For one year now, Br. Craig, Br. Joe and myself have joined this group for an hour or so of prayer each week.  It has been a wonderful blessing and means of support.

Pastor Ken of Miller's Chapel UMC
Then in October 2011, Miller's Chapel United Methodist Church opened there doors for us to begin offering Mass on Sunday mornings in their building.  This led to the first ecumenical Thanksgiving service where Revival Vision, Miller's Chapel and Blessed Teresa joined together to give praise to God.  It was a wonderful time.  This summer Miller's Chapel United Methodist Church and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Mission joined together for a Bible School.  So the Lord is slowly building relationships here that may lead to a deep conversion of the citizens of Union County where almost 60 % are unchurched.
Joint Bible School with UMC

The other activity that continues in Union County is the every third Saturday prayer against drugs.  This rotates from Church to Church.  Whereas, I am unable to come to these sessions very often due to the Saturday evening Mass in Rutledge, Br. Joe and Br.  Craig have been very faithful in their attendance.  We will host this event in November.

Pastor Jim from Revival Vision
In Grainger County, events have moved forward in a different but exciting way.  I meet the Methodist minister, Pastor Ryan, within my first couple of weeks in the area.  In late September and October he opened up his church to allow us to hold organizational meetings there.

Then in November we were invited to be a part of the Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service.  A good number of our folks attended.  During the planning session, concern about drug and alcohol addition arose.  Therefore, I helped organize a program for ministers which was held at Rutledge Baptist church on the issue.  This was well attended and lead to some other gatherings.

Christian Group at Outdoor Ecumenical Prayer Service
Yet, the greatest blessing that emerged was Pastor Ryan, Pastor Chan of Rutledge Baptist Church, and myself gather every first or second Thursday of the month for mutual support, prayer and a meal.  This has been a great gift to me personally.  Furthermore, it has lead us to begin a community food pantry which is slowly getting started this month.

Pastor Ryan from Rutledge Methodist Church
Also in Grainger County, Br. Craig leads a bible study about once a month at the Senior Citizen Center.  Through this ministry, he has meet several other pastors in the area.

Thus the dream of Jesus as stated in John 14, that we may all be one as He and the Father are one is moving forward.  Where these relationships will lead remains the work and mystery of the Holy Spirit, but a great foundations has been established.

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