William’s Column

President’s Column 2018

William McDonald
NAAE President, 2018-19

While ecumenical relationships are built in the experience of dialog (“faith and order”), and in practical ministry in the world (“life and work”), they are also sustained over time in congregations where two or more traditions gather under one roof for worship, spiritual growth, and mutual ministry. These “ecumenical shared ministries” (ESMs) are found across Canada and the U.S. and feature denominational full-communion relationships born of decades worth of theological dialog at national and international levels. They bridge Catholic and Protestant divides, even “magisterial” and “radical” branches of the Reformation. That is, they live daily with the questions generated by the ecumenical movement’s faith and order and life and work branches! How do they do it? What theological and practical issues unite and continue to divide such churches? What do these ecumenical local congregations have to teach the rest of the church about the continuing search for Christian unity?

We will explore these questions during the 2018 NAAE Conference, “Living Unity: Ecumenical Shared Ministries” to be held September 28-30, 2018, at the Crystal City Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. This year’s speakers include:

  • Rev. Dr. Tom Ryan, CSP, Paulist Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, Boston, MA
  • Dr. Gerard Mannion, Department of Theology, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
  • Rev. Dr. Sandra Beardsall, Professor of Church History and Ecumenics, St. Andrew’s College, Saskatoon, SK
  • Dr. Mitzi Budde, Head Librarian and Professor, Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, VA
  • Rev. Dr. William McDonald, Professor of Religion, Tennessee Wesleyan University, Athens, TN

In addition, there will be a panel of representatives from ecumenical congregations who will share their stories about living and doing ministry together in their local contexts.

As always, there promises to be much to feed the heart and mind in this year’s conference. Last year’s topic of liturgy will continue in this year’s papers and conversations about how ecumenical congregations negotiate matters of worship and sacramental participation. How, too, do theological tensions among traditions make a difference in shared life “at the grassroots”? Naturally in the mix of topics will be matters of ecclesiology. Worship is an integral part of our time together, thoughtfully prepared and led by NAAE members. Per NAAE tradition, there will be a Saturday evening banquet, and ample time to get to know folk from across the gamut of ecumenical life, whether laity, parish clergy, faculty, students, or denominational officials.

This year, NAAE board members are urged to arrive at the Crystal City Hilton by noon on Thursday, September 27th for a retreat. We will spend that time together planning for the academy’s future as a key part of North American ecumenical activity. Board members should expect to remain through the closing board lunch on Sunday the 30th. The Hilton is located adjacent to Washington’s Reagan National Airport, facilitating ease of transport to and from the airport

Please continue to check the NAAE website at www.naae.net, where registration for our next meeting should be open by 1 March 2018. Hotel registration will be available by that date through a separate website (see Conference Information elsewhere on this page). We urge you to register for the meeting (and renew your NAAE membership if necessary) as soon as possible. See you at the Crystal City Hilton in September. Thank you!

That we may be one,
William McDonald

Posted in Conferences.