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Ecumenical & Interfaith Network - PCUSA

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Who We Are

Our mission | Our goals | Our leadership | Participation | Be the Network article | PDF brochure |

The Ecumenical and Interfaith Network connects Presbyterians who are actively involved in, or particularly interested in, ecumenical and/or interfaith relationships so that they may share and learn from one another. Ecumenical and interfaith work require people to join together. This newly emerging network was birthed at a meeting in December 2005 and grew through a planning meeting on January 31-February 1, 2007.

Our mission

To become a catalyst within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for healthy and growing interfaith and ecumenical relationships at the local and regional levels.

Our goals

  • sharing information and ideas
  • connecting local, regional, national and global events and activities
  • lifting up effective examples at every level
  • stimulating new ideas and projects
  • enlisting and equipping new participants
  • maintaining this web site (

Our leadership for 2007

  • The Rev. David Alger, Tacoma, Washington, chair
  • The Rev. Thomas Davis, Wilmington, Delaware, vice chair
  • The Rev. Sherri Hausser, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
  • The Rev. Dr. Joseph Pallikathayil, Kansas City, Missouri
  • The Rev. Rebecca Tollefson, Columbus, Ohio

The leadership team (pictured, below, in order from left) invites communication with network members and others in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) through e-mail to its chair.

Network participation

It is the hope of those now participating in the network that many more will join in forming connections. Read below about being the network. Go to the Participation page of this web site to read about registering your interest.

Be the Network: Initiating and Being

Ashley Seaman (pictured below) is a minister in Denver Presbytery and a recent member of the WCC Central Committee who represented the General Assembly Committee for Ecumenical Relations at the organizing meeting of the Ecumenical and Interfaith Network. She explains its significance.

seaman_ashleyCan you see men and women moving in the streets of second century Ephesus, before work, navigating to the house church to gather for communion?

See them sharing prayers, stories of Jesus, scripture, the sustenance of the Eucharist, song, and the benediction, "Make every effort to seek the visible unity of Christ's church" (Ephesians 4:1-6).

Perhaps, in the improvisation of their predawn worship, they shared bonds of unity and signs of Christ's peace through exchanges like, "I know exactly what you are talking about." Or, "Have you thought about this alternative action or word when you encounter criticism?"

Can you see men and women navigating roadways and airports in order to gather in Louisville, Kentucky, on December 8-10, 2005, to initiate the Ecumenical and Interfaith Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)? It is a different picture than Ephesus, yet there was church gathered by the same Spirit in the same love of Christ, hungering for unity's nourishment. And there we gathered to share prayers, stories of Jesus and of the Church and of the blessed, inseparable relation of all people.

Words buzzing around our table may have been like the Ephesians' communion talk: "I tried that, too. You may want to think about..." "I recommend this speaker...and book...and funding source." "Please tell me more about your metro interfaith council – and about the Week of Christian Unity and your ecumenical writing project."

The gathering of such a network of Presbyterians who are engaged in ecumenical [i.e., relations between Christian traditions, making Christian unity visible] and interfaith ministries made so much sense that the question, "Shall we form a national network?" met an immediate, "Yes!"

The next questions, "How? And to do/be what?," elicited streams of ideas – create an idea exchange, connect grass roots efforts and organizers, establish a resource library, make space for dialogue and encouragement. In the following moments, days, and month, we formed a web site, agreed to submit our experiences, theologies, and challenges to the web site, and formed a steering team.

 Until I was surrounded by these men and women of many ages, hometowns and vocations who were enlivened and involved in ecumenical and interfaith ministries, I did not realize how isolated I felt in my local work and commitments. Irony bloomed and exploded in those moments. How could I be so committed to Christian unity and human community and feel like an abnormal pastor? Surely I caused this isolation amidst the fast, busy balances of life as I served a single congregation's needs. And I intensified  this isolation by my fears, tired of standing fo ecumenism and interfaith cultures of peace in the midst of a status quo of privatization and competition among congregations and denominations.

 Therefore, the signs of peace and bonds of unity in the church at Ephesus and in the Louisville gathering are epiphanies for me, as well. "You have seen Pentecostals from Brazil and Ethiopian Orthodox priests and Catholic sisters called to worship by drummers in Zimbabwe, too! You can show me new ways to 'make every effort to seek the visible unity of Christ's church'!"

Are you hungering for the nourishment of Christian unity? Do you seek to come out of isolation and experience the presence of Presbyterians who are exploring and initiating ecumenical and interfaith commitments? Here are ways to be the network:

Here are ways to be the network:

1. Engage others or independently journal about these questions:

  • Why and how am I involved in ecumenical and/or interfaith activities?
  • What book, movie, song, or person would I recommend to someone who wants to grow into a deeper practice of ecumenical and/or interfaith relations?

2. Contribute to the network both information and your stories of “best practices” and models of local ecumenical or interfaith work.

3. Keep informed in ways that support Presbyterian participation at all levels.

4. Visit this web site as a reference. Its contents are changed regularly.

5. Fill in a network membership form.

6. Participate in the next national network gathering on January 31-February 2, 2007, in Washington, D.C., as you may be able. (This is welcomed but not the only basis for participation.)

Welcome to the Ecumenical and Interfaith Network of the PC(USA)!

Published in Ecu-Dialogue, Spring 2006, as revised on August 14, 2006. Used by permission.

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