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New Fire stokes the flames of unity

By Jordan Blevins

Minneapolis, November 9, 2009 – On the second day of the ecumenical young adult gathering New Fire 2009, nearly 40 young adult participants from across the country attended Sunday worship at the Church of All Nations, a multi-cultural Presbyterian Church (USA) congregation in Minneapolis.

After church the New Fire delegates met with ecumenists over 35 -- "seasoned ecumenists" in the lexicon of young adults -- to talk about building momentum to keep the New Fire movement going forward..

Worship was a blend of the Church of All Nations sharing their multicultural vision for the church and the New Fire movement sharing their ecumenical vision – and exploring the intersections between the two.

The Church of All Nations was chosen as the New Fire movement seeks unity not only among communions, but unity in Christ among different ethnicities and genders. The church describes itself as, “high-risk, low-anxiety church because our hope is in Jesus Christ. We are committed to being honest, transparent and vulnerable with one another, just as Jesus modeled." Following worship, members of the church exchanged stories with members of New Fire about what it means to be vulnerable in the church, and share with one another.

After worship, participants moved to doing the work aimed at sustaining the New Fire movement into the future. The afternoon began with sharing of methods of communication to continue building the relationships that have been formed, and that will continue to be formed, and then moved into a fundraising opportunity to sustain the movement.  Entitled “Ecumenists of all Ages”, participants were challenged to give their age in a donation to the movement – donations which the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches and Church World Service will be challenged to match in the coming week.

Plans were also laid for a more sustained fundraising proposal – with a concept paper presented including things like a permanent New Fire Movement coordinator, a New Fire Task Force, and young adult participation in ecumenical events. Even more significant, in an effort to build local participation in the movement, were ideas around local ecumenical training, seed grants for local ecumenical events, and regional events to make the movement more grassroots.

The evening was spent sharing the vision of the movement with seasoned ecumenists, including National Council of Churches staff and denominational representatives. The New Fire Movement participants shared their vision, proclaiming, “New Fire is movement-building work to call the Church to re-imagine its mission to live out the God-given mandates of love, justice, unity, and peace on a global, regional, and local level.” 

An intergenerational conversation around the goals and vision explored how the seasoned ecumenists can aid the members of New Fire in achieving their goals  - but also saw the young adults calling on the seasoned ecumenists to join them in this revitalization of the ecumenical movement.

With a vision, goals, and fundraising momentum behind them, the participants of New Fire will spend Monday exploring ways to stay connected, stay involved, and keep the flames of the movement burning.

Jordan Blevins is assistant director of the NCC Eco-Justice Program and a member of the New Fire delegation.

Photos by Kathleen Cameron

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212  (cell) ,

The New Fire Gathering of young adults is funded in part by the Anna Van Loan Trust to honor Zelah Van Loan "for the purpose of providing for a Biennial Congress of Youth of America, to devise the best methods for youth to apply Christ's principles for the betterment of humanity and to bring young people to Him."

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