NAAE 2016




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Upcoming Conference

North American Academy
of Ecumenists

2017 Conference
Boston, MA
September 22-24, 2017



Membership in the Academy includes:

  • Ecumenical fellowship
  • Engagement with leading ecumenists
  • A forum for dialgoue and engagement
  • Journal of Ecumenical Studies
  • Occasional newsletters
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President’s Column

2007-06 Montana 116 full sizeTom Best
NAAE President, 2015-2017


North American Ecumenists Explore Wider Implications of 2017 “Commemoration”

The North American Academy of Ecumenists (NAAE) held its annual conference at the Candler School of Theology in Atlanta (Rev. Dr. Jan Love, Dean) this past weekend, meeting under the theme “‘Commemorating’ the Reformation: Churches Looking Together Toward 2017 – and Beyond.” Through presentations and conversations, about forty members of the Academy sought to probe the ecumenical significance of the 500th anniversary of the European reformations by asking what Christians have learned from those challenging events, and how the churches might use the anniversary to recommit themselves to harvesting the fruits – and “baking the bread” – of the ecumenical movement.

The speakers focused on the complex task of remembering and moving forward. Lutheran theologian Rev. Dr William Rusch reminded the group that the work of “commemorating” is a work in progress. Msgr. John Radano spoke on the lessons learned from 1517 as tools for shaping the future. Another Roman Catholic theologian, Dr. Catherine Clifford, challenged us to claim our inheritance – whether Catholic or Protestant – as a resource for moving forward together. Dr. Patrick Henry suggested that Christians must practice “creative remembering and prudent forgetting” in learning from our past, and moving into our ecumenical future.

There was also a clear emphasis on the fact that the commemoration of 1517 is not just for Catholics and Lutherans, but for all Christians. “What’s in it for us?” asked Dr. Robert Welsh, surveying responses to the “Commemoration” of the Reformation from many Christian World Communions. Several speakers urged the group to consider the joint text From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran Catholic Commemoration of the Reformation in 2017 (PCPCU and the LWF) as applicable to all churches.

The four prayer services during the event moved worshipers from repentance to reconciliation, to renewal, and finally to “Re-Catholicizing, Re-Evangelizing, Re-Forming” for the future.

A panel of prominent Atlanta-area church leaders and ecumenical practitioners, gathered by Candler Professor Emeritus Dr. Don Saliers, spoke of the passion, promises and challenges of their work in liturgy, musicianship, outreach, oversight, and ecumenical leadership.

Next year’s NAAE conference will take place in Boston, MA, 22-24 September, on the theme of worship as it has unfolded over one hundred years of Christians learning from and experiencing one another’s liturgical life.


Papers Presented:

  • Catherine Clifford, “Re-Membering for a Common Future”
  • Patrick Henry, “Creative Remembering – and Prudent Forgetting – On the Way to Christian Unity”
  • John Radano, “Our Ecumenical Future: Lessons Learned from 1517”
  • William Rusch, “‘Commemorating’ 2017: A Work in Progress”
  • Robert Welsh, “What’s in it for the Rest of Us? Perspectives on 2017 from the Christian World Communions”
  • The Shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?*

Continue reading

Commemorating the Reformation

North American Academy of Ecumenists (NAAE) Meeting 2016

Friday 23 – Sunday 25 September, 2016
Candler School of Theology, Decatur, GA (near Atlanta)

“Commemorating the Reformation: Churches Looking Together Toward 2017 – and Beyond”

2017 will be observed as the 500th anniversary of the split between Lutherans and Roman Catholics – and, in a broader sense, of the Protestant Reformation as a whole. It is a major milestone for churches committed to one another within the ecumenical movement.

The NAAE meeting in September, 2016 will offer background, resources, and inspiration for the churches as they seek to observe this event. What lessons can we learn from our bitter history of division? What moves are churches making, today, to heal past wounds? What ecumenical moves lie ahead of us, in God’s good time?

We will hear from a range of scholars and church leaders (Protestant, Anglican, Disciples, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox) closely involved in preparations for the event in international, regional, national and local contexts, including William Rusch, John Radano, Catherine Clifford, Patrick Henry III, and Robert Welsh, and, as well as representatives from the local ecumenical scene.

Our host, Candler School of Theology within Emory University, is a dynamic center for theological research and reflection, with a strong legacy of ecumenical commitment locally, nationally and internationally. The location is beautiful, the facilities new and welcoming, with easy access through Atlanta airport and then public transportation. It will be an ideal venue for our meeting!

Practical details: All our meetings and meals (except breakfast) will be at Candler School of Theology. Accommodation and breakfast will be at the nearby Emory conference center.

Please register for the meeting as soon as possible via the NAAE Website ( Thank you!

Tom Best
NAAE President 2016-2017

candlerNorth American Academy of Ecumenists Conference
Candler School of Theology,
Decatur, Georgia
Friday 23 -Sunday 25 September, 2016

Commemorating the Reformation:
Churches Looking Together Toward 2017 and Beyond

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Presentations at Candler for NAAE 2016

Download Tentative Schedule.

Speakers   (Approximate titles of talks)

  1. Rev. Msgr. Jack Radano

Our Ecumenical Future: Lessons to be Learned from the Events of 1517

Closely involved in the Lutheran/Roman Catholic Dialogue and its statement on Justification, Staff member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, 1984-2008, and PCPCU Liason to the WCC’s Faith and Order Commission, he now continues his long service on the faculty of Seton Hall University.


  1. Rev. Dr. William Rusch

Our Ecumenical Future: Lessons to be Learned from the Events of 1517

Closely involved in the Lutheran/Roman Catholic Dialogue and its statement on Justification, former executive director of the ELCA Office for Ecumenical Affairs, and former member of the WCC’s Faith and Order Commission, he is now adjunct professor of Lutheran studies at Yale Divinity School.


  1. Dr. Catherine Clifford

How Observe the Events of 1517? Methods and Options for Ecumenical Engagement

A full professor of the Faculty of Theology, Saint Paul University, Ottowa, she has written and edited extensively on ecumenical studies, sacramental theology, ecclesiology, and Vatican II, and maintains close links with religious communities.


  1. Rev. Dr. Robert A. Welsh

Why Does it Matter? Inter-Confessional and Global Perspectives on the Events of 2017

Retiring in April, 2016 as Ecumenical Officer of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), he is Secretary of the Disciples/Roman Catholic International Dialogue, and has chaired the Secretaries of Christian World Communions as well as the Board of the Ecumenical Institute, Bossey (WCC).


  1. Dr. Patrick Henry, III

Reconciling Memories: Creative Remembering – and Forgetting – on our Way to Christian Unity

Director of the Collegeville Institute from 1984, and a former Professor at Swarthmore College, he is a frequent and exorbitantly creative commentator on ecumenical, religious and cultural affairs.

NAAE crafts response to “The Church: Towards a Common Vision”

The North American Academy of Ecumenists (NAAE) met at the Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre in Niagara Falls, Ontario, for its annual conference on 25-27 September 2015. The theme of the conference was “Crafting our Response” to the World Council of Churches’ Faith and Order Paper number 214, The Church: Towards a Common Vision (TCTCV). The paper, proposing a common ecumenical ecclesiology, was published in March 2013 for study and comment by churches and other bodies.

At its 2014 conference, in Burbank, California, the NAAE had received and discussed scholarly papers concerning the Faith and Order document, following a typical format for a scholarly conference. (These papers were subsequently published in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies.) The 2015 conference took the bold step of experimenting with Open Space, rather than using the usual scholarly conference format, to craft a formal response to TCTCV.

Open Space, a process first developed in the middle 1980’s, invites meeting participants to propose topics that they wish to discuss around a theme, and then meet in self-selecting small groups for collaborative brainstorming on the proposed topics. Using this process, NAAE members identified specific issues that they wished to explore, critique and affirm within the Faith and Order paper, and then discussed the issues in the Open Space small groups. Each group reported back to the plenary and provided a transcript of its discussion. An omnibus transcript of the conference was then compiled and submitted to a drafting team who took on the task of transforming this raw material into the NAAE’s formal response to TCTCV.

Reverting to a more traditional format for the conference banquet, the Academy heard a stimulating keynote address presented by the Reverend Canon Dr Alyson Barnett-Cowan, president of the Canadian Council of Churches.

The North American Academy of Ecumenists is a community of scholars from varied Christian traditions across North America who promote scholarship in the service of Christian Unity.  Its membership includes theologians, ecumenists, graduate students, church officials, clergy, religious and laity actively pursuing Christian unity.  The Academy ordinarily meets the last full weekend of September in an Annual Conference to consider papers on contemporary ecumenical issues from invited scholars.  These papers are submitted exclusively to the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, which has first rights of publication.  Members of the Academy receive a subscription to the Journal as a benefit of membership.

The Academy’s next annual conference, “Commemorating the Reformation: Churches Looking Together toward 2017 – and Beyond” will be held at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Decatur, Georgia, on 23-25 September 2016.

By Fr. Alan Perry

Shuttle to Mt Carmel


716-685-2550 – Toll Free 877-750-2550

North American Academy of Ecumenists
2015 Conference

Please note well: You must call to obtain these rates; they are not available online. Have your travel arrangements made in advance. The shuttle service will try to bundle conferees together in order to achieve the best savings for everyone.

Rate is one way, per person, and includes all fees and baggage handling:

  • 1 Passenger $65.00 per person                                        
  • 2 Passengers $39.00 per person
  • 3 Passengers $28.00 per person
  • 4+ Passengers $20.00 per person                               

*** Price does not include driver gratuity, which is at passenger discretion***

**Reservations required**

 Rates are applicable between Mt Carmel (Niagara Falls, ON) and:

  • Buffalo Niagara International Airport
  • Amtrak Station-BFX

75 Exchange Street
Buffalo, NY 14203

  • Amtrak Station-BUF

55 Dick Road
Depew, NY 14043

Make your reservation by:

Phone: 716-685-2550 or 877-750-2550


Please provide a credit card to hold the reservation, and have your travel information available.

 Any questions can be further directed to:

Sarah Rounds (
Phone: 716-685-2550
Toll Free 877-750-2550

President’s Invitation

Mitzi J. Budde

NAAE President, 2013-2015


You are cordially invited to attend the 2015 North American Academy of Ecumenists (NAAE) Annual Conference, to be held in Niagara Falls, (Canadian side) on September 25-27, 2015. This will be a creative and interactive conference as all the participants together engage in crafting an Academy response to the World Council of Churches’ new convergence document on The Church: Towards a Common Vision.  Registration will open around June 1, 2015 on the NAAE website:

The active engagement group process that we will utilize for this conference is known as open space technology.  This new approach for the Academy seeks to utilize to the utmost the rich ecumenical insights and experience of the Academy’s members. It should be a generative and lively experience. For more information about how open space technology works, see  and

The focus of our work together will be The Church: Towards a Common Vision, a new statement from the World Council of Churches’ Faith and Order Commission. Only the second WCC theological document to achieve “convergence” status, it builds upon the achievements of the first convergence statement on Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry (1982). For ecumenists, this is a remarkable ecumenical breakthrough, achieving agreement on ecclesiology and ministry in the context of koinonia/communion. It explores the Church as community of witness, community of worship, and community of discipleship. The NAAE conference will respond to the theological, pastoral, and practical aspects of the document.

The key preparation for participants will be to read the document itself, The Church: Towards a Common Vision:   If you would like more background on the document, see the NAAE 2014 conference papers on the relevance and significance of The Church text for a North American context, published in the Spring 2015 issue of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies.

The Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre in Niagara Falls, Ontario is a retreat-like setting that will facilitate our creative engagement with one another. This beautiful nineteenth-century former convent sits on top of a bluff overlooking the Niagara River, just above the falls. The retreat centre will provides all of the meals for the conference. Each room has a private bath. Wifi is available on site. For more information, visit the Mount Carmel website at

For U.S. citizens travelling to Niagara Falls, we recommend the Buffalo-Niagara Falls International Airport in Buffalo, NY. Southwest Airlines serves this airport. Upon arrival in Buffalo, we’ll take a shuttle across the border. (Look for further information about the shuttle on the NAAE website.)  U.S participants will need your passport to cross the border.

Who we Are: The North American Academy of Ecumenists ( is a community of scholars from varied Christian traditions across North America who promote scholarship in the service of Christian Unity.  Its membership includes theologians, ecumenists, graduate students, church officials, clergy, religious and laity actively pursuing Christian unity.  The Academy ordinarily meets the last full weekend of September in an Annual Conference.  Members of the Academy receive a subscription to the Journal of Ecumenical Studies as a benefit of membership.



NAAE E-Newsletter, January 31, 2014

Mitzi J. Budde

It is truly an exciting time for ecumenists again. We see a
resurgence of hope and enthusiasm with fresh winds of the Spirit
blowing in the papacy. The maturing of various Protestant bilateral
relationships is bringing about deepening mission and creative joint
ministries. Renewed conversations are taking place between the Orthodox
and Catholicism. Continue reading