In pursuit of a deeper union

The Moderator of the CTE Forum 2022, Dionne Gravesande, shares our Reflection of the Month for March 2022...

The ecumenical movement today is a rich variety of traditions and experiences in the life of member churches. At its best, it shares the vision of unity when called to be partners in God’s mission of bringing hope to the world.

As we enter the 21st century we are witnessing new growth and shifts across the wider ecumenical family. Our cultural diversity adds to the strength of our community and is something to be cherished and celebrated. Our makeup includes people of different ages, gender, culture, ability, language, caste and ethnicity and together we have an amazing opportunity to work collaboratively in a multidimensional, cross-cultural ecumenical world. Wow, what a vision that is! For me this is important to reflect on, since the 2022 Forum will come after a time of waiting because of the global pandemic, a virus that has exposed and highlighted both the vulnerability of all humankind and the profound inequalities and divisions among us. The world has been awakened to the ugly realities of privilege and oppression, of economic, social, and racial injustices.

The World Council of Churches message reminds us that churches come together in response to God’s call, to hold a light of hope and to celebrate the love of God the Holy Trinity, a love made fully manifest in Jesus Christ that moves people to reconciliation and unity.

The Churches Together in England Forum is the broadest ecumenical gathering of Christians in England. It’s our opportunity to be encouraged by the diversity and depth of Christian witness in England, and to be enriched by forging new relationships and connections. More than that, it is a chance to celebrate and to deepen our relationship with God and with each other, through Bible study, discussion, workshops and listening to speakers from all parts of the Christian church. I am looking forward to spending time with others to gather strength, to listen and learn from other as we deepen our shared missions together. For me, this is what it means to pursue unity. This kind of oneness is what I think Jesus wants us to share with the him and one another. His words remind us

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

John 17:20-23

Together let us take up the shield of faith and walk together bound by a shared love in God and the mission of Christ.

I look forward to extending my hands to yours at the 2022 Forum, together let us welcome one another in peace and fellowship.

Dionne Gravesande is the CTE 2022 Forum Moderator and member of the New Testament Church of God. She is the Ecumenical Lead at Christian Aid and has over 25 years of experience working within the church environment. In December 2021, Dionne took up the role as Chair of Board at the Joint Learning Initiative, an international collaboration seeking to build the evidence on the contributions of faith groups to the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the role of faith in community health and wellbeing.