URC :: Spirituality

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United Reformed Church Spirituality articles:

An Ecumenical slant on spirituality

Mark Argent
9 August 2018

What does spirituality look like in an ecumenical context?

Perhaps the most natural starting point is the thought that no two people’s spiritual paths are the same. If I engage with someone and think our experiences of God are the same it probably means I’m missing something.

Occasionally come across people who assume that everyone in their denomination speaks the same language, that people in similar-seeming denominations can be assumed to speak a similar language, and eventually run aground when that really doesn’t work — which leaves me wondering how many more subtle differences were ignored. It’s often more productive to assume that someone else starts in a completely different place, and perhaps discover that the gap is less than it seemed. In ecumenical terms this means that the apparent struggle for a spiritual director to relate to a directee in a very different tradition is in fact very liberating because it allows both to be real and both to learn.

People sometimes talk as though God is somehow reflected in their church, which gives it a particular authority. That needs to be treated with caution, but it seems fairer to say that the unknowability of God is reflected in the the diversity of churches. In practice that means that the demands working ecumenically are a really-rich reminder of the unknowability of God — which invites a perpetual exploration.

Another layer of this is that the URC, as a union church, brings together several different strands: that makes the richness of an ecumenical exploration of God both part of our internal story and part of our experience of wider ecumenism. That may be a key part of what we bring to the ecumenical engagement with spirituality.