What does 'Ecumenical Affairs' mean?
The Committee for Ecumenical Affairs works under the auspices of the Committee on Publication, and is engaged in ‘correcting in a Christian manner’ the misconceptions of Christian Science, particularly within the Christian community. The Ecumenical Team works together to support all the ecumenical activities in support of The Mother Church, by writing blogs on christianscience.com and articles for the Christian Science periodicals, working on Convening Tables of the National Council of Churches, and participating in ecumenical conferences and meetings.
What is Ecumenism?
Ecumenism is a worldwide movement among Christians who seek to promote unity between Christian churches or denominations (or ‘communions’) in response to Jesus’ prayer that we be one (See John 17:21). It recognizes the body of Christ in its entirety, learning to understand the ways, values, and communications styles of our fellow Christians. The dialogue is vibrant and respectful, welcoming the gifts of others, while maintaining the integrity and purpose of each Christian faith tradition.
The skilled dialogue with Christian leaders, clergy, and religion educators has served to correct the imposition on the public that Christian Science is not Christian. An increasing number of Christian scholars and leaders are learning about Christian Science and are speaking about it in more positive ways.
All churches and denominations are concerned with maintaining the purity of their ideas and practice of religion, and the ecumenical dialogue respects that integrity in others. And it is with a spirit of humility that Christians value one another's faith and service to the common cause of Christianity. As we learn from others, we often find ourselves learning to appreciate and articulate better our own denominational roots. We have the opportunity to cultivate bonds of love and dispel misunderstandings. Ecumenism is one of many ways to practice active Christianity.
One of the most compelling reasons Christian Scientists have become ecumenically involved is that other Christians have been asking for us to participate in the greater dialogue and especially to explain and share our unique gifts more widely.
What's The Matter With the Way I Talk?
One of the greatest stumbling blocks to successful ecumenical engagement is the language we use. Every church or denomination has its own jargon, which can be baffling or unwittingly offensive to others. Without understanding the language, culture, and history of others, we often find ourselves trying to share our most precious ideas only to discover they mean something entirely different to our listeners. With love for others, we make the effort to learn their Christian ‘language’ in order to communicate the greatest depth of thought. Just as we maintain our own culture and identity when we learn a foreign language, we also maintain the identity of Christian Science while we learn the Christian practices and theology of others.
Comments from Mary Baker Eddy on Christianity
- “In the record of nineteen centuries, there are sects many but not enough Christianity.” (SH 224:11)
- “Christian Science may absorb the attention of sage and philosopher, but the Christian alone can fathom it.” (SH 556:13)
- God is universal; confined to no spot, defined by no dogma, appropriated by no sect. (Mis. 150:25)
- I love the orthodox church; and, in time, that church will love Christian Science. (Mis 111:21)
- “The real Christian compact is love for one another. This bond is wholly spiritual and inviolate.” (Mis. 91:10)
Prayer and insights about ecumenical engagement
- Getting our assumptions right in interfaith work by Brian Talcott
- Opening closed doors by Maryl Walters
- Invitation to worship by Kristin Jamerson
- What Christian Scientists Believe (Video) by Madelon Maupin, Brian Talcott, Eric Nelson
Christian Scientists engaged in ecumenical (and interfaith) activities
- First Church, Brentwood, MO serves at The Bridge, a non-profit day center for the homeless that is located in the basement of a Methodist church. It also hosted a house concert with a group of African-American Christian gospel singers, donations going to a home for teen boys without homes. And they sponsor Christian Science lectures in Lutheran and Catholic high schools.
- “Recent Unfoldments in Ecumenial Outreach”
- “Rabbi Rosen and Interreligious Dialogue”
- “Ecumenial Dialogue workshops on baptism”
Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon (who first invited the Christian Science Church to engage in the ecumenical movement, 2008)
- Michael Kinnamon talks about the meaning of ecumenical dialogue (video)
- Discussion with Michael Kinnamon about Christian Science in ecumenical dialogue
Helpful links to Circle of Faith
- Blogging about the ecumenical dialogue
- Christ’s Christianity podcasts (Shirley Paulson and Chet Manchester discussing how Christian Scientists can engage in ecumenical dialogue)
- Invitation to anyone sharing ecumenical and interfaith activities and ideas
- Documents, articles, and bibliographies on topics relevant to interfaith dialogue.
This document is not an official "teaching" of Christian Science, but it is a synopsis of Christian Science understanding. Its specific purpose is to answer questions arising mostly from fellow Christians in an ecumenical context.