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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Yesterday we were involved in two joint services, one purely Baptist, where three (out of four) congregations combined to hear our shared BMS Link Missionary, the other one ecumencial with Anglicans and Methodists where she was also the guest speaker.

The morning service included the now ubiquitous dreadful hymns: there are some excellent things in the Green Book so why do we have to have the awful ones?  Despite that, we had a PowerPoint presentation (what else would you expect from BMS?) and a very informative talk about work being done by United Mission to Nepal, and more specifically the project in which our misisonary has been working, which has now run its course.

The afternoon service was a very different feel, lots of participation from all traditions, PowerPoint everything (with sheets for those who prefer), DVD clip, images, organ and music group, old and new hymns/songs (chosen by me!) and the CTBI liturgy as a framework within which to work.

UMN sees its role as being within the 'universal church' and is non-denominational, so it was an appropriate choice to have our missionary speaking, and her projects - concerning the voiceless and marginalised - in keeping with the theme of the service.

Interestingly my folk split themselves between the two sevices, though with a good overlap, and some elected not to join us.  The reasons for the choices reflect Baptist diversity, but what struck me more was the way that my folk now see themselves as part of the world church (or at least the Dibley and District church) than they did three years ago, and indeed are becoming quite pioneering by Dibley standards in ecumenical working.

While I miss the old pulpit exchanges of my previous incarnations (not a very good metaphor!), it is great to be part of a comfortable ecumenism that can see a BMS missionary as of shared interest, and the holism she spoke of - denominationally and missiologically - as pertinent.

When I first arrived here people were surprised that I was impressed with the Churches Together scene.  I hope that in my two years as chair (which end in June) I will have contributed positively to developing it into something even more helpful in living the gospel. 

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