Project 2: Receptive Ecumenism and Ecclesial Learning: Learning to be church together
The initial exploration of Receptive Ecumenism took place in a particular ecclesial context, asking what Catholicism might receive and learn, with integrity, from other traditions. Whilst the potential for such learning to be applied to any Christian tradition was easily appreciated, such extension of the approach would require the commitment of practitioners in those traditions: to impose a critical analysis from outside would contradict a basic principle Receptive Ecumenism, not to ask "What do the other traditions first need to learn from us?" or "How can they be more like us?" , but "What do we need to learn from them?"
The new project on ‘Ecclesial’ (rather than ‘Catholic’) Learning thus worked towards a Second Receptive Ecumenism International Conference. This was held in January 2009 (again at Ushaw College, Durham) under the title ‘Receptive Ecumenism and Ecclesial Learning: Learning to Be Church Together’. Representatives of a wide range of ecclesial traditions engaged in the exercise of self-critical receptive ecclesial learning from their ‘others’, not only in the preparatory research and writing for the conference papers, but in the dialogue and informal conversation at Ushaw, and in post-conference publications and wider reception of Receptive Ecumenism. The project revealed the potential not only for practical adoption of the basic principle within different traditions, but the possibilities of a rich theological dialogue using Receptive Ecumenism, as well as identifying similarities and differences with other horizons of ecclesial learning, including inter-religious encounter.
Whilst Receptive Ecumenism and Ecclesial Learning demonstrated the potential for the approach to be incorporated into different Christian traditions, and for varieties of local adoption, a complementary project established a team of practitioners from local churches, together with experts in various fields, to test the approach in a controlled research project. The project was entitled Receptive Ecumenism and the Local Church: A regional comparative research project in the North East of England.
Chapters in Paul D. Murray, Gregory A. Ryan and Paul Lakeland (eds.), Receptive Ecumenism as Transformative Ecclesial Learning: Walking the Way to a Church Re-formed (in preparation).