Liturgy & Reunion

What Ecumenism Can Learn at the Altar

The late Methodist liturgical scholar James White once said: “Why teach ecumenism when you can teach liturgy?” White knew whereof he spoke, having taught for decades at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, and then at the University of Notre Dame. How we worship as Christians, the liturgy itself, may be one of the most fruitful ways to engage ecumenical consensus, especially as enthusiasm for church unity has waned so severely in recent years.

Despite the fact that the liturgical reforms of so many mainline churches (Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, Presbyterian, and even the United Church of Christ) have exhibited a remarkable convergence in both form and substance, there seems to be no good road map forward for church reconciliation. It is, after all, more than twenty-five years since the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches issued its landmark convergence document, Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry (Lima, 1982). What is needed now is a clear and comprehensive guide to contemporary sacramental and liturgical theology, together with some realistic proposals for movement toward mutual recognition. That is precisely what George Hunsinger proposes to provide in The Eucharist and Ecumenism: Let Us Keep the Feast (Cambridge University Press, $29.99...

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About the Author

John F. Baldovin, SJ, teaches liturgy and sacraments at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry. His latest book is Reforming the Liturgy: A Response to the Critics (Liturgical Press).