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Third annual NewFire Gathering Calls for Networking,
Sharing Resources and Local Young Adult Ecumenism

By Jordan Blevins

New Orleans – Gathering prior to the Ecumenical Centennial Gathering, 40 young adults expressed their witness to the present and future of the ecumenical movement.

The group also sought continued renewal of young adult involvement in both ecumenical movement, and the churches and communions that make up that movement.

A smaller group of task force members gathered here on Saturday, November 6 to celebrate the work NewFire had done over the past year, and also to have conversations about the direction of NewFire into the future. 

After worshipping with the community of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, which hosted the gathering, the NewFire gathering opened the weekend of worship by holding a service of worship together.  Over the course of the weekend, the group learned about the place of NewFire within the ecumenical movement, and participated in ecumenical dialogue through discussing the five discussion papers presented to the Ecumenical Centennial Gathering. 

The work of the weekend, however, involved looking at the work NewFire had done over the past year – building a diverse task force, distributing funding for four seed grants across the country, and hosting film viewings – and also discussing  what they could do moving into the future. 

With young adult representatives from partner groups Church World Service, Lutheran Student Movement, Christian Churches Together, Student Christian Movement USA and Canada, the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, and Brethren Volunteer Service – as well as many representatives of local congregations and campuses – the group discussed the need for a place that could ignite networking, the sharing of resources, and local ecumenical engagement. 

The role of the gathering in doing ecumenical formation and training was also affirmed. The group looked at five main priority areas -  local ecumenism and seed grants, ecumenical formation, networking, infrastructure, and fundraising.

Out of these working groups came the recognition of the need for greater participation from partner organizations.

A letter addressed to those attending the Ecumenical Centennial Gathering read, “this is a letter of challenge.  We want to partner in ministry with you , to continue to grow the young adult ecumenical movement, and bring renewed life to the broader ecumenical movement.  Friends, we can’t do this without your support.  We are not professional ecumenists.  Our table is broader than that.  We include local pastors, students, professionals, and everything else on the spectrum ... We seek to joyfully join you in the work of visioning what the ecumenical movement, and the churches that make it up, can be.”

Hope was also expressed for the work that is to come – work to network amongst one another, to share the message of NewFire at home, to share resources, to do the work of ecumenical formation, and to encourage local young adult ecumenism.

The letter to the Ecumenical Centennial Gathering read, “All of the young adults you see around you at this gathering, and the ones that have been before you have been nourished, fed, loved, and supported by the member communions found here, and by many mentors and friends among you.  We are those who have love for the church, and for the ecumenical movement.  It is why we are here.”  And it was in that spirit that this group of young adults moved forward for continued work in the world.

Centennial Gathering

More than 400 people of faith gathered in New Orleans to celebrate a century of ecumenical engagement and to discuss how the churches might live and work together in an uncertain future.

The Centennial Gathering of the National Council of Churches and Church World Service marked the one hundredth anniversary of the 1910 World Mission Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, an event many church historians regard as the beginning of the modern ecumenical movement.

The theme for the Centennial Gathering is “Witnesses of These Things:  Ecumenical Engagement in a New Era.”  The theme is taken from Luke 24:48 which is the scriptural theme text for the 2010 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – an additional reminder that there is one, multi-faceted ecumenical movement.

A complete schedule and other documents of the meeting can be found at www.ncccusa.org/witnesses2010.  

For more information contact: Philip E. Jenks, pjenks@ncccusa.org, 212-870-2228

Centennial Gathering Home Page