21st Century Ecumenism: The Local Church as a Model for Unity and Diversity in a Fragmented World
This thesis introduces readers to the rich tradition of the ecumenical movementand explores how emerging new strategies can benefit congregations as well as facilitate healing in our fractured and divisive world. It argues that the same principles used in ecumenical dialogue can and should be used in the local church. First, the history and significant steps and missteps of the ecumenical movement are briefly examined, before turning to the contemporary strategies of receptive, spiritual and kenotic ecumenism. Then, the paper considers 21st century examples of thriving ecumenical ministries, including survey feedback that provides an intimate look at how one church (Snowmass Chapel) has committed itself to unity across various denominations. Finally, a process is provided for effective ecumenical leadership both within, and outside of, the local church context. Ecumenical work takes courageous leaders who are willing to acknowledge difference without judgement, listen deeply, and be committed to Christian unity in love. The ecumenical movement has made significant strides in the past century and half, yet it has not made a significant move into the local church. This thesis argues that by introducing the concept of ecumenism to local congregations, leaders can initiate change that has far-reaching impacts across all areas of life.
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