LARCUM Spring Conference tackles challenges to ecumenism

CHARLESTON — Lasallian Brother Jeffrey Gros greeted a small but intense group of ecumenical leaders at St. Christopher Conference Center with a brief history on ecumenism.
He noted, however, that they were not there to look back but to move forward.
The purpose of the 2009 Bishops’ Dialogue and LARCUM Spring Conference “Moving Beyond Isolation: Embracing an Ecumenical Vision” held April 23-24 was to make an action plan on how to unite the LARCUM churches, Brother Jeffrey said.
About 22 bishops, priests, deacons and laypeople of the Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic and United Methodist churches in South Carolina attended the conference to discuss the hopes and challenges of ecumenism.
Brother Jeffrey said every faith is a mosaic, and the only way to understand different religions is to grow to know one another on a personal level. He said it is essential that new religious members are introduced to ecumenical colleagues.  
This is one of the main challenges faced by the denominations, whose leaders spoke about the struggle to act as one community even inside their own faith.
Father C. Alexander McDonald, pastor of St. Andrew Church in Clemson and its two mission churches, said the priest shortage coupled with growing congregations has left them juggling innumerable pastoral duties, with little time for true ecumenism.   
He asked for prayers to help them see beyond their own buildings to recognize their neighbors.
Lutheran Bishop Herman R. Yoos, Episcopal Bishop Mark Joseph Lawrence, and Methodist Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor attended the conference. Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone had a prior commitment.
The three bishops asked that ecumenical groups attend the next session to talk about their work and how they started as a way to help others. They also decided to recommit to the covenant at the 2010 prayer service.