At the end of the year Joan Brown Campbell will conclude her nine-year tenure at the helm of the National Council of Churches. But she won't be relinquishing her role as a champion of the ecumenical movement. She will become director of religion at the Chautauqua Institute in New York state, overseeing religious programs and interfaith services.
Compared to the usual formalities of ecumenical conversations, which include carefully worded assurances of mutual regard, the statement last month from the Vatican on the proper use of the term “sister churches” was exceedingly blunt.
Leaders of the National Council of Churches have at various times over the past decade floated the idea of seeking a new, more inclusive kind of ecumenical organization. Last month the NCC made its most concrete move in that direction by appointing a team of top church leaders to explore the idea with Roman Catholics, evangelicals and Pentecostals.
Recently Yale Divinity School organized a conference to mark a major ecumenical event of the last decade (some would even argue, the major ecumenical event of the last century). It was the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church.
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