We live in an ever-increasingly, blessedly diverse world. We come from different places, have different assumptions, read different books, laugh at different jokes, like different things. Even within our own families and circle of friends, we will encounter people who believe and act in all sorts of contrastive ways. The multiplicity of our pluralistic world presents a unique opportunity to each and every one of us: to be challenged and enriched, to grow and learn as we encounter divergent perspectives that stretch, deepen, and enhance our own. It is through the gift of conversation that we learn to not only understand, but also appreciate the perspective of another. It is in dialogue that we together seek goodness and truth.
Episcopalians are involved in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue at varying levels and in different locals: among family and friends, as a small parish community, as a statewide diocese, as a member of the wider Episcopal Church, and as a part of the global Anglican Communion. The Office of Faith Formation is here to help individual Episcopalians and parish communities engage in dialogue, for the “unity in witness and service” of Christians throughout Colorado and “the whole human family” of any religious tradition or none.
The Episcopal Church in Colorado is an active member of the Colorado Council of Churches (CCC), joining with numerous ecumenical Christian partners—African Methodist Episcopalians, American Baptists, Disciples of Christ, Lutherans (ELCA), Presbyterians (PCUSA), Congregationalists (UCC), Methodists, Unitarians, and others—to as we strive to “live in unity.” The CCC is also a primary partner in our ecumenical advocacy work.
Over the past several decades, the Episcopal Church and wider Anglican Communion has made significant strides towards full and visible unity with other Christian bodies within the United States and across the world. In the United States, we presently enjoy “full communion” relationships with:
- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), following our mutual affirmation of the “Called to Common Mission” concordat
- The Moravian Church in America, following our “Finding Delight in the Lord (PDF)” agreement
- The Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, India, which has dioceses in the US
We also continue to make progress towards full communion with the United Methodist Church, which this helpful parish study guide explains: “Make Us One with Christ: Study Guide on Episcopal-Methodist Dialogue (PDF).”
And while full communion remains elusive at present, we continue to engage in dialogue with Roman Catholics through the Anglican-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation (ARC-USA)—the local complement to the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC). Two important examples of that work include the ARC-USA’s latest document, “Ecclesiology and Moral Discernment: Seeking a Unified Moral Witness” (PDF) (published Easter 2014), and ARCIC’s “Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ” (issued February 2004).
Internationally, the Episcopal Church has full communion relationships with the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI, or Philippine Independent Church), and several other autonomous but interdependent member churches of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Anglicans worldwide also continue to dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Baptist World Alliance, and others.
For those that want to dig into a bit more depth, the Episcopal Church’s “Handbook for Ecumenism” (PDF) lays out in more detail the theology and ecclesiology behind our ecumenical approach. And resources related to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity can be found here.
The Episcopal Church in Colorado also engages in interfaith dialogue, partnerships, and advocacy through such groups as:
Interfaith Alliance of Colorado
Interfaith Alliance of Colorado promotes justice, religious liberty, and interfaith understanding by educating, organizing and equipping progressive people of faith and goodwill for advocacy, dialogue, and celebration.
Fostering mutual understanding and appreciation among Abrahamic faith traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) through education, dialogue and action.
Colorado Interfaith Roundtable
Faith-inspired organizations gather on a quarterly basis for networking, sharing and discussion of important issues facing and affecting the people of Colorado.
The Episcopal Church’s theological statement on interreligious relations, “Toward Our Mutual Flourishing” (PDF), commands all Episcopalians to “dialogue for building relationships, the sharing of information, religious education, and celebration with people of other religions as part of Christian life, with a reminder that:
- Dialogue begins when people meet each other.
- Dialogue depends upon mutual understanding, mutual respect and mutual trust.
- Dialogue makes it possible to share in service to the community.
- Dialogue is a medium of authentic witness by all parties and not an opportunity for proselytizing.”
The document goes on to that that “such dialogue may be a contribution toward helping people of different religions grow in mutual understanding and making common cause in peacemaking, social justice, and religious liberty.” Alongside the fundamental aim of building relationships of trust and friendships of respect, that is our hope and goal.
Episcopalians particularly interested in convening a parish-based Muslim-Christian dialogue should contact the Office of Faith Formation about a new curriculum from JustFaith, “The Sultan and the Saint,” an eight-session module seeking to cultivate mutual understanding and appreciation of both the differences and commonalities so that “by nurturing relationships across religious boundaries, the hope is that together participants will model interfaith cooperation as they live out a central tenet of both faiths: to love God and to love our neighbor.”
For more on our ecumenical and interfaith work as Anglicans/Episcopalians, see: