Since 1963 the National Workshop on Christian Unity (NWCU) has met in a designated city in the United States. It began when a group of Roman Catholics, in the context of Vatican II, met to equip local leadership for the task of ecumenical ministry. In 1969, they invited leaders of other Christian communions to join, and today the national ecumenical officers of the churches continue their oversight of the workshop, which is planned by national and local committees. There are both denominational and ecumenical sessions during the workshop. The NWCU celebrates the spirit of ecumenism by:
- providing meeting seminars for all who are concerned with the ministry of Christian unity: laity, clergy, ecumenical officers, theologians, staff of ecumenical organizations;
- stimulating an exchange of ideas and experiences among people concerned with Christian unity and the bodies they represent;
- being a resource and balance between national planning and local responsibility, general ecumenical discussions and particular interchurch conversations, and regional leadership efforts and local realities,
- encouraging denominational networks to develop and serve as a framework within which they can interact;
- celebrating the unity which already exists among Christians and searching for ways to overcome the divisions that remain.
This year the worship meets in Louisville, Kentucky, April 18-21. I became involved in the workshop in 2013, attending the event in Columbus, Ohio. The following year, in Albuquerque in April of 2014, I was asked to present a plenary address on evangelicals and new ecumenism. As a result I was invited by the leadership team to become a member of the national plan committee for the NWCU. I was also tasked with forming a fifth group inside the workshop that is now called Ancient-Future Faith Evangelical Partners. Last year, in Charlotte, this group came to the NWCU for the first time. There were eleven of us. I think most of the people who came last year will return. We hope for at least twenty this year.
Anyone can attend and those who are deeply interested in serious ecumenical teaching, interaction and fellowship should most definitely attend. You will be able to register online soon but if you are interested in knowing more please contact me directly to get information Join our evangelical partners group if you want to learn and become an involved ecumenical leader. I hope younger leaders, and especially students who are becoming engaged in ecumenism, will attend. Please contact me directly via the ACT3 address and/or website. I will be happy to provide information. You can also “search” for this online. I hope all our friends will pray for this year’s workshop. I will co-lead a session with my partner/friend Fr. Thomas Ryan, CSP, on “Ecumenism 101: Best Practices.”