By Lucy Robinson
Leading Anglican Church representatives say listening and engaging with members of other denominations is the key to maintaining constructive partnerships that benefit the wider community.
Speakers hosted by the Cross Road Forum Committee at The Monastery on August 20 applied this dialogue between the Anglican Ecumenical Network and Catholic Diocesan Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission to Adelaide’s Christian branches, exploring how they can reach a place of understanding.
Director of Mission and Community Engagement at Anglicare SA, Peter Burke, provided an Anglican perspective as a guest speaker.
“It’s a wonderful learning experience,” Peter says.
“This dialogue is all about listening to the other, engaging with them and being curious about other perspectives.
“The ultimate aim is to foster a greater sense of unity so we appreciate each other and understand each other a lot more.”
Executive Officer at South Australian Council of Churches, Geraldine Hawkes, and Associate Professor at the Australian Catholic University, Stephen Downs, also spoke at the forum.
A major theme that emerged during the evening was the potential for different denominations to engage in common mission, and Peter says finding strategies to make this work will be a focus for the future.
“It comes down to looking at how we engage in local ecumenism together,” he says.
“For an organisation like Anglicare, that might be developing partnerships with other Christian denominations or agencies, or working with parishes.
“We can turn to our ecumenical brothers and sisters in other denominations and ask, ‘Is there something we can do together for this community, that we cannot do on our own?’.”
Member of local Saint Oswald’s Parish, Tony Wainwright, attended the forum out of a personal interest in learning from other faith traditions.
“These discussions get us in our own tradition to think again about things we assumed were not possible,” he says.
“I think they become possible when we start to understand each other.”
The forum follows a ecumenical Pentecost service held in similarly collaborative spirit at St Mark’s Anglican Church in May, for the combined Christian churches of Tea Tree Gully.
Reverend Mark Hawkes led the service, and celebrated the achievements of the Schools Ministry in supporting children across the broader community.