Fairfield University Hosts International Receptive Ecumenism Conference
Fairfield University’s Center for Catholic Studies hosted an international conference about Receptive Ecumenism that brought together people of different Christian traditions from five continents. Receptive Ecumenism aims to develop among many different Christian denominational perspectives. Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians and the Orthodox were well represented, among other traditions.
“Receptive Ecumenism in International Perspective: Contextual Ecclesial Learning” was held on campus from June 9 to June 12, 2014. The third such gathering in the past eight years – and the first in the United States – the event was an invited conference. More than 100 distinguished religious leaders, activists, and academics attended it - the most international participation to date.
The conference pressed the issue of Receptive Ecumenism in the more complex contexts of global Christian reality and in relation to some of the sharpest issues providing causes of tension and division within and between the traditions, according to Paul F. Lakeland, Ph.D., the Aloysius P. Kelley S.J. Professor of Catholic Studies and Director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield. Dr. Lakeland, an award-winning author, organized the event jointly with Paul D. Murray, Professor of Systematic Theology at Durham University in the United Kingdom.
In addition to Fairfield University President Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., attendees included Rev. Dr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator S.J., Provincial of the East African Jesuit Province; Most Rev. David Moxon, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Representative to the Holy See; and Dr. Serene Jones, President, Union Theological Seminary. There were also representatives from the Vatican, the South Australian Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Harvard University, and Trinity Theological College, Singapore.
A goal of the conference was to build on the two previous conferences in an effort to learn from a much more international community. That community included people from the global south, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Africa, among other parts of the world. Those attending the previous conferences mainly came from Europe, North America and Australia.
This conference was sponsored by generous grants from The Raskob Foundation, Fairfield University, the Episcopal Church and an anonymous donor. Additional assistance was provided by the Anglican Communion Office, the Commission for Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches, and the Institute for Church Life of the University of Notre Dame.