The Community of Christian Churches in Switzerland, celebrated the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Charta Oecumenica on 22 April, 2021. The only nation-wide ecumenical platform, this encourages all that contributes towards reconciliation between churches and brings them closer together in the spirit of Christian unity. Each church retains its own theological tradition but comes together in prayer, witness to the Gospel and other activities.
Mary Talbot, invited to speak on behalf of the Diocese in Europe (C of E) on the subject of Christian Unity, referred to Geneva as an ecumenical centre, home to the World Council of Churches, and described the activities of the Cursillo movement in Geneva. This is truly ecumenical, bringing participants from across the anglophone Christian denominations together to explore their faith and leading to further inter-denominational activities.
Participants were invited to re-commit to the principles of the charta, including continuing steps towards unity.
Here is Mary’s contribution
My name is Mary Talbot, I am a church warden in Geneva and I speak for the Church of England. I shall talk today about the 1. item of the Ecumenical Charter for the Churches in Europe which is entitled “Called Together to Unity in Faith”. It reads:
With the Gospel of Jesus Christ, according to the witness of Holy Scripture and as expressed in the ecumenical Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381, we believe in the Triune God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Because we here confess “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church” our paramount ecumenical task is to show forth this unity, which is always a gift of God.
Fundamental differences in faith are still barriers to visible unity. There are different views of the church and its oneness, of the sacraments and ministries. We must not be satisfied with this situation. Jesus Christ revealed to us on the cross his love and the mystery of reconciliation; as his followers, we intend to do our utmost to overcome the problems and obstacles that still divide the churches.
Unity in Faith – an Anglican Geneva Perspective
Geneva, which hosts the World Council of Churches, is an important ecumenical centre.
As an Anglican church, we are members of both the RECG and Témoignez Ensemble, which operate actively across the francophone community.
Geneva is also home to an ecumenical Cursillo, acting as a strong force for unity and cooperation across the anglophone community. Originally a Roman Catholic initiative from Spain, this reached Geneva via the United States. Working in cooperation with churches from different denominations, Cursillo aims, through attendance at residential weekends, to help participants grow in depth and confidence in their faith and to return strengthened to witness in their own churches. Covid permitting, joint services and other activities are held in the member churches.
Not only, are these weekends valuable in bringing together different denominations to explore their faith, but they lead to further independent initiatives open to all. For example a study course, Growth in Prayer and Reflective Living, led by the Glasgow Spirituality Centre; both live and virtual retreats, including to the Holy Land; small groups carrying out Bible Study or Lectio Divina.
It is interesting that, although Cursillo and its spin-off activities are supported by clergy, with three participating each weekend, the leadership, drive and initiative are provided by lay people working together across churches.
We invite all the Churches in Switzerland to renew their commitment:
– to follow the apostolic exhortation of the Letter to the Ephesians and persevere in seeking a common understanding of Christ’s message of salvation in the Gospel;
– in the power of the Holy Spirit, to work towards the visible unity of the Church of Jesus Christ in the one faith, expressed in the mutual recognition of baptism and in eucharistic fellowship, as well as in common witness and service.