At a time when "internal, identity-centered issues" are causing a "credibility crisis" within denominations, one Anglican peace advocate has suggested a focus on ecumenism as a solution.
"We need to emphasize time and again the sense of mutuality and interdependence as the basis of relationships between Christians", Dr Jenny Plane Te Paa, convener of the Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN), said on Monday after a meeting in Geneva with staff from the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF).
"We all tend to claim our differences in ways that prevent us from acknowledging our commonalities, so that within the churches, the fidelity to our denominations becomes more important than our higher fidelity to our oneness in Christ", she added. "Only a theology of mutuality can help us to transcend this through a truly ecumenical attitude."
Te Paa's remarks were echoed by World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary the Rev. Olav Tveit, who greeted the APJN representatives and stressed the deep commitment of the Anglican Communion to conciliar ecumenism, "which is not about lofty words, but is rooted in worship and witness so as to inspire our common service to the Lord who calls us to be one".
Tveit also highlighted the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) taking place in Kingston, Jamaica, in May next year as an opportunity for "bringing unity to churches in our struggle for peace".
Convened by the WCC, the IEPC "belongs to the whole ecumenical family, as well as to many others concerned with peace", Tveit said.
The Mar. 15 meeting was part of a week-long conference held among some 35 APJN members that runs from March 13-20. Representing over 20 countries and all the world's continents, the conference participants will learn more about making their voices heard within the UN system in Geneva. In parallel, they will be introduced to UN policies and programs to inform their own work on peace and justice worldwide.
Facilitated by the Anglican UN Office in Geneva, the conference will include presentations by prominent UN and civil society representatives and will facilitate an Anglican presence at the UN Human Rights Council.
Through participation in panel discussions and plenary sessions, APJN members, who include both clergy and laity, will share their own experiences of issues such as truth and reconciliation, transitional justice, forced displacement, women and health, and children and education.
To further theological reflection on these topics, thematic Bible studies and Eucharistic services will be held daily.