Tuesday, July 24, 2007


"You of the Faith and Order movement are the salt of the earth," said the Rev. James Forbes, preaching at the final prayer service of a conference celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first ecumenical Conference on Faith and Order.

Some 300 persons gathered on the campus of Oberlin College in Ohio, where the first meeting took place, for the National Council of Churches USA (NCC)-sponsored conference to take stock of the Christian ecumenical movement in North America. For five days participants examined several questions including what Christian unity in the United States might look like.

The movement known as "Faith and Order" actually traces its history in the United States to 1910 when Episcopal Bishop Charles Henry Brent and Disciples of Christ leader Peter Ainsley, among others, began to articulate the need for a setting where churches could together engage their differences in understanding the Christian faith and God’s intention for the right-ordering of the Church.

Brent would have been pleased with the 2007 conference, Bishop C. Christopher Epting, the Episcopal Church’s deputy for ecumenical and interfaith relations, told Episcopal News Service.

"This was not a clone of the 1957 conference, but perhaps a bridge to the next generation of Faith and Order scholars," he said. "The number of younger participants was impressive as was the breadth of Protestant, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical participation."

Forbes who recently retired after 18 years as senior minister at The Riverside Church in New York City told the prayer service that if there ever was a time for a new Great Awakening to happen in the United States, the time is now.

"Who would’ve thought that the new Great Awakening could breakout at a Faith
and Order conference," Forbes said, urging nearly 300 attendees to return to their 80 Christian denominations and organizations to be "truth and light at a time of darkness."

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