number 9, december 14, 1998

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Experiences people have had: Living the ecumenical connection

By Bruce Best

The Rev. Dr Michael Kinnamon didn’t expect it would be the start of a long term connection with St Martin’s Anglican Church, Hatfield (near Harare airport), when he went to preach at their two Sunday morning services will a week ago.

But it seems that way. It involves St Martin’s, his home congregation in the United States and his own family -- and it may last for years.

The first sign of it was when he told the Hatfield congregations (about 40 at the 7am service, 300 at 8.15am) that his Midway (Kentucky) congregation was praying for them. They applauded when he told them he could assure them of that because his wife was the pastor. They also stood and prayed for Midway.

He had the congregation repeat the key scripture text for the day, Romans 15:7 -- "Welcome one another just as Christ has welcomed you for the glory of God" -- which he described as "a great text for people to welcome one another".

The minister, Canon Philemon Mudzvevere, and congregation leaders did just that at a reception afterwards. They invited Kinnamon and the other assembly visitor, the Rev. Lideke I’nt Veld, to join them in their annual Christian dinner on the following Friday (11 December).

Kinnamon was able to go, and took with him Veronica Stavila, a Romanian Orthodox who has been in the theological students program associated with the assembly.

At the reception, she talked about the Orthodox Church, and he talked about the personal experience that led to his being involved in the ecumenical movement. (He was on WCC faith and order staff 1980-83, and is now professor of theology and ecumenical studies at Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky.)

And it became even more personal. He exchanged addresses with two families who have daughters about the age of one of his daughters, 10-year-old Leah, and the children are going to correspond. "I’ve told Leah on the phone, and she thought it was great," he said.

There were also offers from two families for him to return, with his wife, for a longer visit -- that will be one of his aims -- and there are plans for "on-going spiritual contact" between the US and Zimbabwean congregations.

This is another one of those stories of life and contact across boundaries. They help people to make sense of the ecumenical movement.

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Read other articles in this issue:

Mandela to WCC: tribute, and the development goal
Four fundamental questions for churches
Experiences people have had: Living the ecumenical connection
Orthodox preachers shares testimony about being lost
Visitors take home gift of a covenant
Bulgarian Orthodox quit WCC
Looking for the vision
WCC to set up commission with Orthodox churches
Trees will be reminder of the 8th assembly
Listen! Children can work
Letters: Provocative, misleading
50 years ago: Report from Amsterdam
Zimbabwe Christians criticise government
WCC celebrates 50th anniversary
Assembly yes to Christian 'forum'

8th Assembly and 50th Anniversary

copyright 1998 World Council of Churches. Remarks to webeditor