Published On: September 20, 2023Categories: NewsletterComments Off on September 2023 Update
Thanks so much for reading this month‘s news from The Initiative, a community committed to “walking in deeper friendship with Jesus and his followers, so that the love of Christ might exceed all divisions.” We do this primarily through prayer, sharing of our lives, and proactive work for greater unity. This month we’re looking back at another gathering (this time in the Northeast) and getting ready to pray with our Catholic brothers & sisters for the very important upcoming Synod in Rome.
Another Encounter of Unity
This past weekend we hosted our second regional gathering of the past couple of months, this time at Assumption University in Worcester, MA. We followed a very similar schedule to the one at Mundelein in August – including lots of time to pray, worship, reflect on Scripture, look at The Initiative’s way of life, practices and guiding principles together, and engage with one another around what it looks like to live out missional ecumenism where we are.
And just like last month, I think the most powerful part of our time together were the friendships across difference that were started or deepened. I was reminded once again of how few opportunities we all have for this, and of how Jesus uses these kinds of encounters to form us to be people who embody his love and good news.
We came to the gathering from very different places: Catholic deacons and priests-in-formation, Protestant pastors, Ph.d students, artists & musicians, hospital chaplains, people in formal church or parachurch ministries and lay people in various types of churches. And we left to go back to those places, strengthened with a deeper commitment to “love greater than division” and live more of the oneness that Jesus prayed for in John 17. Would you be interested in hosting one of these encounters in your area?Reach out to me by replying to this email and we can begin a conversation about what that could look like and how it might happen.
In last month’s update, I wrote about the upcoming “Synod on Synodality” that will begin in Rome in October and how Pope Francis had asked all Christians to join in prayer on Saturday, September 30th for that important time in shaping the future of the Roman Catholic Church. Here are some ways that you can participate:
The Taize Community has organized a time for people to gather in St. Peter’s Square to pray, which will take place from 4:00 – 7:00pm in Rome (so 10:00am – 1:00pm Eastern time). The “Together” website has a vast amount of information, including the potential of watching/praying along via livestream (Keep an eye on our Facebook page as more details emerge).
In conjunction with many other communities around the world who will be praying before and after the St. Peter’s vigil, The Initiative will be hosting an hour of prayer on Zoom from 2:00 – 3:00pm Eastern time. Please consider joining us as you’re able.
Southern California friends of The Initiative, in conjunction with the Focolare community in Los Angeles, will be gathering in person to pray from 3:00 to 5:30pm Pacific time. Contact Greg Metzger for more details about where and how to get there.
Resource of the Month – Christian Churches Together
Christian Churches Together (CCT) is one of the broadest fellowships of Christian communions in the United States, “bringing together Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Historic Black, and Mainline Protestant communions and organizations to witness together to the reconciling power of Jesus.” They identify their three charisms as “engaging in loving relationships, learning theologically, and leading actions that provide a way toward Beloved Community.”
From October 3-6, Tom Masters (one of our Leadership Council members) and I will be in Savannah, Georgia to attend the annual forum of CCT. This year’s theme is “Waters that Unite and Waters that Divide: Baptism and the Journey to Unity & Reconciliation.” Your prayers are appreciated as we observe, learn, make new friendships & connections and discern how the Lord wants to use our time there to help form and guide The Initiative.
I’m so grateful for each of you who reads these updates, and for those of you who pray and encourage and give generously. This month, the refrain of the song we sing at the closing of our unity encounters has become my prayer: “Father, make us one; Father, make us one. That the world may know you have sent your Son, Father, make us one.”
Yours in Christ’s Love,