Sunday, November 14, 2010


I spent the last week at the National Council of Churches General Assembly: Centennial Gathering in N'Orleans.  It was the first time that I was in a formal setting to discuss ecumenism, especially with non-ELCA-Lutherans.  I think it's easy to talk about getting along with everybody when there's relatively few differences within the ELCA, but it's a whole different thing to actually BE ecumenical.

We had two main worship services in our time in New Orleans, which felt very odd to me, since we have chapel Monday through Thursday at LSTC.  Both services were designed to be as inclusive as possible, so there wasn't eucharist.  One of the other young people at the conference was a member of the Society of Friends and as we were talking about the services she said, "Some things really upset me.  Then I realized that there were things that upset everyone in that worship.”  This was exactly the point.  The bulletin had an asterisk during the Apostle's Creed, denoting that not everyone uses the filioque.  The service we had at the Orthodox church had a charismatic, AME bishop preaching, complete with Amens and "Preach it, Bishop" being yelled out from the pews.  There were things that upset all of us in those services.

In some ways, it was this crazy collision of worlds, east meets west, Catholic meets Quaker, silence meets vocal praise.  Despite it making us feel "uncomfortable" or upset, we were all there, worshiping God, praising Christ, feeling the Holy Spirit, in a new space with new people.  It was uncomfortable, but it was the true spirit of ecumenism.

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