Friday, October 3, 2014

Year 3 -- Ecumenism

Beauty rises from the Mountains

As I continue to celebrate three years of mission development in Union and Grainger County, the blessings of our relationship with other Christians is deeply appreciated.   Glenmary considers ecumenism ... building bridges with other Christian denominations... as an important missionary principle.

Pastor Frank visiting with Br. Craig
In Union and Grainger county, not only have bridges been built, but also friendships.  Within one month from our arrival, we began praying with the men of Revival Vision Church of God.  The pastor has changed, two members have died, another has moved away, but the group continues. Our prayer together is one of the highlights of my week.  Currently, we are doing more scripture sharing and personal sharing.  These are men I trust as much as my blood brothers.

Pastor Ken receiving a plague of appreciation from Fr. Steve
In October of 2011 we celebrated the first Sunday Mass ever in Union County at Miller's Chapel Methodist Church.   This one month of services led to many levels of fellowship.  For three years we have held a joint Bible School.  Their choir has sung in our church and we in theirs.   They even have formed a joint choir and have sung Christmas carols together and have sung together at the Nursing Home.
Joint Bible School in Maynardville

Both of these churches with Blessed Teresa of Calcutta have formed a Community Thanksgiving Service which will be in its fourth year.  We have prayed in all three churches together and have shared preaching responsibilities.  Our hope this year is to expand this with more churches joining in.

Pastor Brian to offer prayer at Fr. Steve 25th anniversary
Br. Craig and Br. Joe also have attended regularly once a month Saturday prayer services for the reduction of drug and alcohol abuse in our community.  We have hosted this event twice.

The relationships between members of our various churches are a beautiful reflection of the Body of Christ becoming more and more unified.

Pastor Ryan praying at Catholic Church with Pastor Chan about to preach

In Grainger County a strong relationship has been built between Rutledge Baptist Church, Rutledge Methodist Church and St. John Paul II Catholic Mission.  The two pastors and myself, or my two close friends, (it is the same thing) meet once a month for conversation, shared reflection, prayer and lunch.  We currently have formed a Community Food Pantry.   We have done charitable acts distributing with food, cloth and toys as opportunities have arisen.   We aim to support one another both personally and in our ministry.

Baptist Choir singing at Methodist Church with the Catholic Priest about to  preach
 Last Spring we held a joint revival rotating each night between preachers, choirs and host churches.  It was a bonding experience for our congregations and has lead to us planning a second one next spring.  This summer we held our first joint bible school which was a huge success.  Currently four members of Rutledge Methodist attend our adult bible study.  What a blessing this is.

Joint Bible School in Rutledge

Friends at the Methodist Church now attending Bible Study at JP II

Also,   Br. Craig has taken on a special ministry.  Every Sunday after the nine o'clock English Mass, he visits another Christian Church.   He has been invited to about 92 of them and has visited 30 or more so far.  Often times he is the first Catholic every to attend these churches and in some cases, is the first Catholic the folks have meet.  These build deep relationships.

Br. Craig and Pastor Ryan representing the joint food pantry
In this summary, I have not mentioned everything that might be called "ecumenical" that is happening with us.   Yet, this aspect of our missionary activity has born great fruit.  Who knows what the Lord will do with these friendships in the future.  Certainly, this is a light of what can happen in the world.  We can live together and be One Body of Christ.
Christians United reflects the colors of God's love!

1 comment:

  1. Great stories of what's possible between different Christian denominations!