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Faith and Order Conference 2007

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Following up on past events: | Faith and Order Conference 2007 | World Council of Churches Assembly |

 Yearly events: | Week of Prayer for Christian Unity | National Workshop on Christian Unity |


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U.S. Faith and Order fiftieth anniversary celebrated by broad mix of groups


Some three hundred people -- including about a hundred theological students and twenty Presbyterians -- celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches on July 19-23, 2007, in Oberlin, Ohio under the theme, “On Being Christian Together: the Faith and Order Experience in the United States.”  Participants from a great array representing some eighty churches and Christian organizations came together to assess the previous fifty years of the ecumenical movement in the U.S. and think strategically about the future.

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Avery Dulles (pictured), the Catholic cardinal who is the son of Presbyterian John Foster Dulles, recognized that decades of conversation "have been of immense value for dispelling past prejudices, for identifying real but hitherto unrecognized agreements, and for enabling parties to see that they can say more together than they previously deemed possible." He characterized the Faith and Order process to date as seeking consensus -- harmonizing on the basis of shared sources and methods -- but said this had nearly exhausted its potential. Now he would encourage "an ecumenism of mutual enrichment by means of mutual testimony" in which all would be "free to draw on their own normative sources and does not constrain them to conceal or belittle what is specific to themselves."

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Tom Best, longtime staff of the WCC's Faith and Order, said progress in the movement has "brought us in many areas to the really difficult questions: what are the essential, irreducible aspects of the Christian faith on which we must agree?” 

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Mark Calhoun (who says he represented an emergent church movement in Oberlin) says in his blog comments that he resonated with Michael Root, a Lutheran seminary dean, during a session on post-modernity. Calhoun reports that "Root proclaimed, 'The ecumenical movement itself is a child of modernity and the metanarratives of the modern world have shaped it’s outlook.' EXACTLY!! How then can the propositions of the current ecumenical movement survive in the postmodern context? I suggest that they cannot, and that they must be re-shaped if they are to transform our commitment to unity…. In another instance, during our religious plurality session, Root arose from the audience and basically proclaimed that interfaith dialogue had no place in Faith and Order conversations. That might be the case within the compartmentalized reality of modernity, but it simply won’t fly in the airspace of postmodernity with her strong commitment to relationality."

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Reports describe conference papers, postings make them available

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A variety of sources provide information on the content of the conference's presentation and discussions.

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