An intrepid group of students, young leaders, and clergy have just returned from an eight-day pilgrimage to Rome, co-led by the Living Church Institute (Dr. Christopher Wells) and Nashotah House Theological Seminary (the Rev. Dr. Matthew Olver).
This intimate study tour, “Christian Unity in Rome: Anglican Ecclesiology and Ecumenism,” included a full itinerary of travel, sightseeing, worship, prayer, and ecumenical study at the Anglican Centre in Rome and the Cento Pro Unione.
Ms. Jean Cotting, one of the seminarians on the trip, said:
“Seeing Rome, the Vatican, and all the other sites was an amazing experience. We had fantastic guides throughout who greatly enhanced our appreciation of the sites. The classes were extremely rich and provided opportunity to discuss and reflect on Christian Unity with a diverse group of fellow pilgrims.”
She added, “I think the fellowship will stay with me as much as anything else about our journey.”
The Rev. Sarah Bronos also reflected on her experience of fellowship on the pilgrimage, and how this shifted her perspective on the work of ecumenism:
“It is perhaps all too easy to pay lip service to ecumenism. If I thought about it at all I certainly thought it was a very good endeavor but not necessarily one for the parish level. Ecumenism was something that was done by denominational leadership. And then I went to Rome.
“The attendees were from very disparate theological backgrounds, from various countries, male and female, and of varying ages. Early on I did wonder how much Christian unity there would be amongst such a disparate group, but we genuinely grew very fond of each other, and discussions that could easily have devolved into entrenched positions were filled with grace.
“Through our class discussion I returned home with an idea of how I could do my small part locally to live into our Lord’s high priestly prayer before dying for us: ‘Holy Father … I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me … and loved them even as you loved me’ (John 17:20-21). May it be so!”