Ecumenical Mindset

“For whoever is not against us is for us…” Jesus

6ththread-ecumenicalborder

artwork by Troy Terpstra

I discovered hospitable churches were open and welcoming not only to the stranger in their community but to partnering with other churches, denominations and civic groups in reaching out.  There was the recognition that they needed as much help as they could with like-minded groups in the work of God’s kingdom.

(To read examples of ecumenism, click on the green tabs below)

Welcoming the Disabled.

(Fresh Wind; Abbotsford, BC) Fresh Wind has been strongly committed to ecumenism from the start. The congregation was a church plant from both a Mennonite and charismatic congregation. Fresh Wind has felt called not to be denominationally affiliated but has found a Christian ministry organization that provides accountability for the leadership. Many of Fresh Wind’s members are involved with Circle of Friends which is a non-denominational gathering for families and individuals with disabilities. One of the founders recently converted to Orthodox Christianity thus broadening the scope of ecumenical ties.

Welcoming the Orphans.

(The Church at Brook Hills; Birmingham, AL ) The Church at Brook Hills collaborates with many organizations in the socialwork and Christian network in its mission to care for orphans. It has close relationships with bridge groups Lifeline Adoption Agency and Alabama Baptist.  With its latest emphasis on foster care, Brook Hills has worked closely with the county’s social service agency and other government adoption agencies. For the last three years, Brook Hills has partnered with Altar 84, a Christian non-profit, in hosted an annual conference called KnowMoreOrphans drawing people from many denominations.  Brook Hills also mentors local churches (no matter what denomination) who want their church to grow in orphan care.

Welcoming the Prisoners.

(Northern Lighthouse Mission; Lincoln, NE) Even though Northern Lighthouse is a Christian Reformed church plant, outside of the founding family, its congregants all come from other denominational backgrounds. Lighthouse’s current pastor, Jeff Heerspink (Sam Keyzer’s son-in-law), is a very ecumenically minded leader and loves partnering with other churches and denominations to work towards the good of the broader Kingdom of God.  He has formed a close partnership with the Reformed Denomination (a sister denomination) and also works with city pastors in a missional project working towards the good of the city. Jeff articulates the importance of Lighthouse keeping a “Kingdom mindset” recognizing that many come to faith at Lighthouse but will go on to other congregations to be raised up in the faith and this is to be celebrated as a victory for God’s Kingdom.

Welcoming Shared Life.

(Grandview Calvary Baptist; Vancouver, BC) From his earliest days in the neighborhood, Tim was very interested in connecting to what was happening locally. He got involved with the neighborhood civic groups, small business owners and got to know local politicians. This continues to this day. Although Grandview is Baptist, it has a very ecumenical feel with liturgy being a strong part of the service and there is a strong justice component.

Welcoming Diversity.

(Peace Lutheran; Tacoma, WA) Peace Lutheran is a congregation that works closely with neighboring churches in the Hilltop. Former Pastor Plaehn got to know local pastors and business leaders during his years pastoring and initiated many partnerships.  For two months out of the year, Peace host community meals five nights a week in partnership with neighboring churches.