Comings and Goings is a blog written by Theology, Worship and Education Director Charles B. "Chip" Hardwick as he travels throughout the church. God is on the move out and about in the world, working to redeem all things in Jesus Christ. As we join this mission, by the power of the Spirit we see God on the move. This blog contains glimpses of how Chip finds this to be true in his comings and goings.
You can follow Chip on twitter (@chiphardwick) or find him on Facebook (Chip Hardwick).
Earlier this week I attended the first annual Christian Unity Gathering for the National Council of Churches (NCC) in Washington, DC. The Council has been restructured due to declining resources and this was the first time for denominational leaders, pastors, and professors from a wide variety of Christian traditions to join together to discuss one topic from a number of different angles. The topic for this gathering was mass incarceration, and the societal challenges faced by our criminal justice system.
I am still processing my visit to the Tenth Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) over the last week and suspect that I will be for a long to come. The assembly is a combination of the Presbyterian Church’s General Assembly, the richest continuing education seminars that you can imagine, and the beginning of a bad joke (an Ethiopian Baptist, Japanese Presbyterian, and a Colombian Pentecostal walk into a conference room…). The fullness of the days and the amazing array of experiences and connections made it like the twenty-course meal I shared with a friend during my time in Busan.
One of the most stimulating parts of the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches for me has been the ecumenical conversations on renewal—a word which is often used, but rarely defined, in many Christian traditions. The conversation is headed toward a statement about renewal which will (hopefully) be adopted by the Assembly, but in this post I wanted to share some of the affirmations and challenges about renewal that surfaced in my small group with a Methodist gentleman from Nigeria and a Baptist woman from Ethiopia.
It has been an incredibly rich time here in Busan, South Korea, at the Tenth Assembly for the World Council of Churches (WCC), where thousands of delegates and participants and observers have come from all corners of the earth and many streams of Christianity to find partnership in ministry. The days have been full, with plenaries, Bible studies, workshops, ecumenical conversations, and business meetings. In an assembly like this, we try to focus as much as we can on our unity in Christ. However, that unity is much easier to embrace in the abstract than it is in the particular. I got a good reminder of this during a conversation with a delegate earlier today.
Last week I attended the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches. This commission brings together ecumenical scholars (both professors and pastors) from approximately twenty Christian denominations to engage in multilateral discussions of theological issues around a common table. While the plurality of attendees are from Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, and Episcopalian backgrounds, participants also come from as broad a range as Christian Scientists, Roman Catholics, and Churches of Christ.