Many readers of this blog know that I have been engaged in serious ecumenical conversation and mission for more than a decade now. This led me to visit the Vatican in March of last year. (Blogs about that trip can be accessed in the archives of this blog site from March 2011.) Shortly after I returned from Rome, in mid-March, Francis Cardinal George, the archbishop of Chicago, was featured on the front page of the Chicago Tribune. In a unique interview he spoke about various things that had been accomplished, and not accomplished, during his time in Chicago. One of his expresed interests was for a greater conversation between the evangelical Protestant community, with its great passion for Christ's mission, and the Catholic Church in Chicago. A member of the ACT 3 board, who had a wonderful friendship with a priest inside the archbishop's office, got a copy of Your Church Is Too Small: Why Unity in Christ's Mission Is Vital to the Future of the Church, to his friend who then gave it to the Cardinal. Cardinal George read my book and then contacted me by email to see if I would come to his residence for a personal, private conversation. I went in the summer of 2011 and it was a delightful time for me.
At the end of that lovely visit I asked the Cardinal if he would come to Wheaton and continue to discuss my thesis of missional-ecumenism in a public context. He agreed. But then the details had to be worked out. With profound gratitude I can tell you that Wheaton College allowed ACT 3 to use the largest facility on campus, Edman Memorial Chapel, for this special evening. Thus on Monday, March 26, at 7:00 p.m., Cardinal George and I will meet again but this time we will have our conversation in a public setting. You are cordially invited.
This event is free but seating is limited and we expect a very large crowd. I will say a lot more about this unusual dialogue in the next few days but please mark the date now. If you live far away from the Chicago area then you can see the video of this event on our web site sometime after it is over. (Some friends are flying in for this evening from both coasts!) We even hope to "live stream" the event via Wheaton College's radio station if the details can be arranged in time. I'll keep you posted on everything connected with this important event.
Please pray for me when you think about March 26th. Pray also for Chris Castaldo, director of Gospel Renewal at the Billy Graham Center, who will moderate our dialogue. And pray for Francis Cardinal George, the leader of Chicago's Catholic community and a rightly esteemed leader in the Catholic Church in America. I am uniquely honored to know this man of faith and look forward to our conversation with some degree of fear. My fear is not of the Cardinal himself. He is an extremely gracious brother and will strive to build up everyone in love without flinching on what he believes. I fear that I might fail the task of properly representing the unity of Christ's people in mission, the passion of my life. I also fear that I will not show the love of Christ as I should. My heart is filled with love and regard for all of Christ's flock so I pray this will be evident in my words and actions.
Finally, pray for all the work that goes into this event. We have a huge load of publicity to complete if this event is to be a great success. I need volunteers to do a great deal. A former staff member is coming from St. Louis to assist Stacy, my daughter, in running the evening event and handling the crowd, my books, etc. Pray for each person involved that we will all be safe, full of Christ's love and kind to all.