GCT’s Ecumenical Officer, Margaret Long, reports from the Edinburgh 2010 conference.
Sunday, June 6
This morning’s Radio 4 service from St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh is a good summary of this conference with a wonderful homily from Archbishop Sentamu.
Saturday, June 5
If I were to say in a few words my thoughts on the conference … the surprises, those amazing conversations with people from every corner of the earth … or every race, church and background … we will be telling this story for years to come.
Friday, June 4
Another very full day which began with prayer in the hall, helped by children from a local primary school in Leith. There were several ‘mimed’ songs which created instant atmosphere of family and fun among all the participants. This led into Scripture sharing groups and it was amazing to see what each one remembered of the Syro-Phoenician woman who asked Jesus to heal her daughter. Our different life experiences certainly impacted on what we remembered of the story and the detail we omitted.
Today I met the young people who had gained a place at the conference through the literary and art competitions. They are both very excited at being present and are making a valuable contribution to the discussions. I also managed to have lunch with someone from Youth with a Mission. Hearing people’s stories is indeed the highlight of the conference .
There was no keynote talk today but rather presentations as varied as ecumenical formation for children in Italy, to the Full Gospel Church of Korea. The significance of each presentation was further enhanced by the questions and comments which followed. Everyone is interested in everything here.
There’s hardly time to have lunch , when it’s back into our study groups. This time we were looking at unity and mission. Hearing of the Urban Rural Mission in Canada or the ‘Friendship’ experience in India. There is a breath of life and experience here that is rather unique, perhaps even for the first time such a representation of Christian life is gathered in one place in dialogue.
All is not work though – it was good to see local tradition of ceilidh being provided for all, so this evening the delegates ‘danced the night away’.
Thursday, June 3
What a privilege this morning to start the day with Mass. In the calendar of the Catholic Church the martyrs of Uganda are remembered. Anglicans and Catholics who were killed for their faith: there could be no better ‘protectors’ for this conference. Not only were they missionaries but they were ecumenists.
Then it was the opening worship with everyone laying on a big cross a stone brought from their own land. And just like the worship last night, the songs were from all five continents and we sang in many different languages. We went out from the worship in groups of three to share the gospel stories of the woman at the well, Zaccheus or the blind man who was cured. A cross cultural, cross denominational threesome and what riches we shared.
There was the guest speaker before lunch and the first of the three sessions on the ‘themes’ of 2010 this afternoon. It might have all gone over my head, had it not been for the opportunity to hear the story of the woman beside me from Canada – an indigenous Canadian who had suffered from the well intentioned but utterly inappropriate mission activity in her country. Her testimony drew the group together in a way that might not have happened had we remained on the ‘theory’ of mission.
And tonight, a visit to the Scottish Parliament , an opportunity for Scotland to welcome the delegates from over 60 countries and some 50 different Christian denominations.
Wednesday, June 2
It has begun, all five continents are represented and people are full of hope for an outpouring of Holy Spirit and a openess to listen. If there is not the Lord in all this, then our work is in vain, to quote oneof the participants. Another expressed well what it is all about: that Christianity might not be an idea but an event, the Christ event, Christ who came for us all.
Whilst our time is generally taken up with formal moments in the hall, there is a real sense of communion when we meet over meals. The exchange is immediate and profound. We don’t have time to talk about the weather – there is a great desire to hear each other’s stories and to share in each other’s journey.
All is quiet here now, but there is the anticipation of continuing tomorrow!