“The Context of our Journey” was the theme of the (Faith and Order) conference’s third day and included an evaluation of Faith and Order’s work over these fifty years by Byzantine Catholic priest, Joseph Loya and Pentecostal scholar Mel Robeck of Fuller Seminary. The afternoon included three brilliant presentations on Faith and Order in a post-modern world by Pacific Island Methodist Jione Havea, Orthodox scholar Aristotle Papanikolaou, and Lutheran theologian Michael Root, each representing the best of their traditions. This rich day concluded with a panel addressing “Faith and Order in the Context of Religious Plurality.”
After various offerings of confessional and inter-confessional services of worship on and around the campus of Oberlin College, Methodist theologian Sarah Lancaster, Episcopal ecumenist Bishop Christopher Epting, Evangelical leader Dr. Kevin Mannoia, and Monsignor John A. Radano from the Vatican identified continuing issues facing ecumenism today. Balancing new demands of the many ecumenical “success” stories already achieved with work yet to be done, facing new issues such as human sexuality, welcoming the entry of evangelicals and Pentecostals into the movement, and managing divisions within and among the churches were among the issues mentioned.
The conference reached its conclusion on the last night with a panel moderated by Church of England scholar Dr. Mary Tanner, summarizing the learning and experiences of a sampling of participants. Dr. James Forbes, retired pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City preached at a celebrative evening service in Finney Chapel.
The final morning sent the conferees on their way with a series of practical workshops on state and local ecumenism, higher education, bilateral and multilateral dialogues, and an analysis of the NCC Faith and Order study on Full Communion. A challenge and remaining question for Dr. Thomas Ferguson, associate deputy for ecumenical and interfaith relations for the Episcopal Church, is whether venerable institutions like the NCC and the Faith and Order Movement can be flexible enough to make room for the new voices and perspectives of the younger ecumenists present in such numbers at this gathering. The future (and present) depends on it.