Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Local ecumenism in the global context

Last night I attended the AGM of the local council of churches. We have a strange Swiss style problem - all of the member churches pay their membership fees so we have (relatively speaking) quite a lot of money in the bank. However, we don't really have an ecumenical project or much ecumenical impetus in the bank somehow.
However, we were meeting in Onex last night where the five local churches from different confessions have strong ecumenical links going back decades. As the meeting discussed prospects for ecumenism in the canton of Geneva, the minister of one of the evangelical churches in Onex encouraged us to see ecumenism happening at the local level. In Onex during 2009 there had been no fewer than 47 meetings, meals and encounters between all five of the town's Christian confessions. Local ecumenism based on live encounter is alive and well, perhaps at the cantonal level our job is to try to link up and communicate more of what is happening at the local level.
Anyway having been worried that the meeting would not be very energizing I came away with lots of questions but also with ideas that could take things forwards.
From an international perspective being involved with the local churches in the city where our organisation happens to be based is a challenging experience, it brings me face to face with the weaknesses of ecumenical structures but also the brilliant tenacity, creativity and openness of the people of God. The global church is the local church. The local church is the global church.
It was in many ways just another boring meeting, but it was also in many ways a blessing.