Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 31, 2005
Ecumenical mission has borne fruit
Strathcona County churches have turned competition into cooperation
By BILL GLEN
"We are working together, supporting each other for God's purpose."
- Rev. Mark Hornig
Featured speakers over the last 16 years have included Archbishop Thomas Collins; the Rev. Lois Wilson, former president of the World Council of Churches; famed Anglican preacher the Rev. Herbert O'Driscoll; Catholic ecumenist Father Bernard de Margerie; Anglican Bishop Victoria Matthews; and Paulist Father Thomas Ryan.
But it's the cooperation among the churches that is the real highlight that grew from years of Christians working together.
Hornig was on the original planning committee that developed the ecumenical mission in the county. He has attended all 16 years.
"The churches held Passion of the Christ walks during Holy Week. When I see other church members, we worship and pray together. Our service together gives us a sense of family," Hornig said.
Farquharson was impressed that those who started the mission have never walked away.
"It is ecumenical and the local people obviously have a great commitment to it. It is clearly not the dream child of a passing group of clergy," said Farquharson, who lives in Saltcoats, Sask. "This is exciting. The people from these churches have taken ownership of the event."
Hornig has noted a lack of participation involving parishioners under 50. He attributes the media for stirring up ideas of divided churches. As people age, they seem to realize the greater good of communal prayer.
"We used to have youth events like Pizza Day, but they have fallen by the wayside," Hornig said. "My only regret is that we are not targeting young families. If they were involved, they would find out that the churches are not as divided as some people portray. There is love for each other and a desire to work together for God's goodness and the benefit of human beings."
Ann Bingham and Eleanor Brown belong to different churches but they are good friends. Bingham is a eucharistic minister with Our Lady of Perpetual Help. She regularly attends a Tuesday morning Bible study group.
Brown goes to Sherwood Park United. She also participates in her church's Bible study group every Tuesday.
Through their faith lives, the two women have become close friends.
"We all experienced the Way of the Cross one year and recently we had an evening of prayer with the Book of Revelation after the archbishop's (Thomas Collins) talk," Bingham said.
"It was great for study, but you get to see all the different people from different denominations. You make friends in the community. You recognize them standing in line at the grocery store. This mission builds trust between the churches that might not have been there 25 years ago. I know that is a profound thing for us," she said.
"We are finding we are more the same than different," Brown said. "We are all under the same God."
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