What a council we had today!
It was hosted by the Syrian Orthodox Church, a small community which is itself hosted by the Norbertine Priory in Queen’s Park – a unique partnership. The richness of the opening prayer service in Aramaic (also bilingual) heralded a morning of celebrating good news of inter-church sharing at the grassroots.
- Perth Prayer began as a small group of praying businessmen in a tall office building. It expanded quickly to other offices in this boom town. Such was the variety of Christian traditions represented that a very simple common manner of praying and sharing over a Wednesday lunch hour has been adopted. The move to the central venue of the Wesley Uniting Church in the middle of Perth and the imprimatur of the council of churches has seen this initiative become a powerful witness to the unity to which Christ calls his churches.
- Project54 is calling individual churches across all traditions to adopt a Commonwealth nation for prayer during the lead-up to CHOGM 2011 which is scheduled for Perth in October (12 months from now). To participate, all a church has to do is register through the website at www.commonwealthprayer.org
- Anglican Archbishop Roger Herft shared his journey as a participant on the International Anglican-Orthodox Commission. In particular he noted the respectful candor of the talks as potentially divisive issues sought a basis for discovering unity in diversity of theological perspective (eg ordination of women). In particular he noted the challenge of the assertion that if we do not express that to which we are most passionately convicted, we are acting hypocritically, and the dialogue fails to accomplish its purpose. Fr Boutros Issa of the Syrian Orthodox Church responded, outlining the history of Anglican Orthodox relations.
- We explored the challenge of ecumenical work across Australia as we pondered the slow takeup of the National Council of Churches of Australia “Covenanting Together” initiative. It was hoped that the process, commenced in 1996, would have greater traction now. It was discerned that different contexts gave different means of expression to some of the intent behind the document. Although it reveals an important historic marker in the national ecumenical journey, there are more fluid church relationships alongside the traditional institutional expressions which must be taken into account.
- Changes in governance, staff job descriptions and a freshly articulated commitment to grassroots ecumenism are pointing to a currently energised and focused council.