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Young adults add 'New Fire' to the future of ecumenism

By Jordan Blevins

Denver, November 25, 2008  ̶  Over the course of three days, spanning the weekend of November 8 - 10, approximately 40 young adult ecumenists gathered here in the Renaissance Hotel to explore how they could be in better relationship with one another, work more effectively to be the body of Christ to the world, and how they might add New Fire to the ecumenical movement.

“It is clear that there is a renewed young adult movement emerging in the U.S., both on an institutional as well as grassroots level, but there has been little coordination to see that awareness and relationship and is maintained-until now,” said David Fraccaro, young adult ecumenical formation coordinator for the U.S. Conference for the World Council of Churches. “New Fire provided a space for representatives from numerous young adult ecumenical initiatives to connect with one another, and to build the foundations for a sustainable movement.”

“We were deeply impressed by the depth of the participants' questions and the intelligence of their engagement with us,” said the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, National Council of Churches General Secretary. “The energy at New Fire bodes well for the future  ̶  and the present  ̶  of the ecumenical movement.”

The participants of the “New Fire: Young Adult Ecumenical Days” issued a statement to the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches and Church World Service that followed their meeting.

“We understand that our present unity in Christ is not the end goal, but the beginning of engagement with the world,” the statement said. “We have a deep commitment to conversations and relationships with our fellow Christians, including those with whom we most deeply disagree, and those who have not yet been part of our conversation.  We hope to use these deepening relationships with one another to share resources and knowledge that will enable us to act cooperatively on diverse issues in diverse contexts.”

Representatives from the U.S. Conference of the World Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches Ecumenical Young Adult Ministries Team, the Young Adult Ecumenical Forum, Canadian Student Christian Movement, the National Catholic Young Adult Ministry Association, the World Student Christian Federation, Ecumenical Advocacy Days, and the Eco-Justice Program of the National Council of Churches, as well as various others connected to the ecumenical movement, expressed a strong desire to work together more effectively, and to grow into stronger relationships with one another. 

Commitments were made to increase the breadth of the ecumenical movement by reaching out to partners who were not at the gathering, to develop a mechanism to better share resources with one another of time, funding, staff, and more, and to deepen the personal relationships that exist within the movement.

Out of the weekend came the unveiling of a new website,, housed by the World Council of Churches U.S. Conference, which will provide a space for young adult ecumenists to share with one another, view resources and events, and deepen their involvement in the movement.

Coming out of this weekend, the feeling that the future of the ecumenical movement was bright and burning was affirmed by the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches and Church World Service.

“We pushed our boundaries, shared our vulnerabilities, and grew together as brothers and sisters part of something larger than ourselves,” the group declared in their common statement. “By deepening our relationships as ecumenical groups and individuals, we solidified the relationships that will keep this fire burning, and brighten it into the future.”

Jordan Blevins is assistant director of the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice program.


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