New Church of England Christian Unity Leader: Ecumenism is Sharing Faith, Not Bureaucracy

(Photo Credit: The Diocese of Peterborough)The Rt. Revd Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough, is seen in a file photo.

The Church of England's newly appointed chair of its Council for Christian Unity said on Thursday that ecumenism is properly understood as the sharing of faith, not bureaucracy.

The Council is at the center of the church's initiatives for Christian unity at the diocesan, national and international levels and works with a wide range of other churches in at home and abroad. The Council encourages churches in mission work, and is involved with theological conversations with other churches.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York appointed the Rt. Rev. Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough as the Council's leader. He succeeds the Rt. Rev. Christopher Hill, Bishop of Guildford, who is stepping down at the end of June 2013 after a five-year term in office.

Bishop Christopher said the Rev. Allister "has been a wonderful colleague on the CCU and in some detailed work we have done together. He said he had "very positive" feelings about the Council's direction for the future.

Rev. Allister said in a statement he was "deeply honored" to be asked to take on the position.

"It has been a joy to serve on the Council since 2006 and, through that, to get to know and work with many of our ecumenical partners," he said. "Ecumenism properly understood (the sharing of faith, love, worship and witness rather than bureaucracy) is vital. God is one and calls his people to be one and to love one another so that the world may believe."

When he was first installed as Bishop in 2010, he said in one of his efforts would be "to build harmony in our society."

"Please pray for me and pray for the leaders of other faiths in this Diocese that we can be seen and known as friends, respecting one another, listening to one another, talking together while at the same time standing firm for our different beliefs," he said at the time.

At the time of his installment as Bishop of Peterborough, the Dean of Peterborough Cathedral, the Very Revd. Charles Taylor said Rev. Allister had "great loyalty and love" for the church "in all its diversity." Rev. Taylor said Rev. Allister's "track record reveals a man who, while firm and confident in his faith, has not clung to fixed positions but shown himself willing to travel with others."

At a 'Bible Day' event on March 7, 2012, Rev. Allister also gave spoke of the importance of understanding but work related to the church and the Kingdom of God.

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