At the beginning of December the Networks of CTBI gathered at the High Leigh Conference Centre for the Annual Networking Conference. This year’s theme was “The Church in the Public Square” and we were stimulated with contributions from Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Professor Gavin d’Costa and Dr Kathy Galloway.
Once again we were reminded of one of the enduring achievements and challenges of the ecumenical movement: that we are able to bring together Christians of different theologies, ecclesiologies and backgrounds in one place who find themselves challenged by each other; each hearing how different someone else apprehends the Christian faith.
But having been stimulated and challenged by the guest speakers and enriched by the worship the response from the conference participants tells us more about how successful or otherwise the event has been.
Two comments from the final plenary discussion tell us something about the quality of the reflections:
One participant quoted the late Bishop Lesslie Newbigin - “If all we say is what the world says, do we have anything to say?”
Another asked - how do we deal with the paradox of resisting being drawn into "issues" that are topical or controversial in society and yet at the same time being required by our faith to be engaged with the world?
These are deep and profound questions for the Church today: how to be in the public square, to be distinctive there, to be possessed by Christ and not overcome by the world, yet responsive to the world with a Christ-like presence that witnesses to the mystery of the incarnation.
Photo: CC (linked to http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/) Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk
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