First International Receptive Ecumenism Conference (January 2006, Durham University)
Receptive Ecumenism and Catholic Learning: exploring a way for contemporary ecumenism
In January 2006, the Centre for Catholic Studies at Durham University hosted an international research colloquium that brought together 150 international standing theologians, ecumenists, and ecclesiastics from across various Christian traditions to explore a fresh way of conceiving the ecumenical task fitted for the contemporary situation. The project tested this strategy in relation to Catholicism (the host tradition), hence the full title: Catholic Learning and Receptive Ecumenism. It was experienced by all as a remarkable, graced happening. Senior theologians, ecumenists and ecclesiastics variously spoke of the event and the fresh thinking it introduced as ‘historic’, ‘groundbreaking’, ‘opening a new chapter in ecumenism’, and as ‘providing the much needed model for future initiatives’. The conference resulted in the publication of the first major volume on Receptive Ecumenism: Paul D. Murray (ed.), Receptive Ecumenism and the Call to Catholic Learning: Exploring a Way for Contemporary Ecumenism, (Oxford and New York: Oxford Univeristy Press, 2008)
Second International Receptive Ecumenism Conference (January 2009, Durham University)
Receptive Ecumenism and Ecclesial Learning: learning to be church together
Where the primary focus in 2006 was on illustrating, testing and refining the proposed strategy of Receptive Ecumenism in specific relation to Roman Catholicism, the second conference in January 2009 complemented this by inviting representatives of an even broader range of ecclesial traditions themselves to engage in the challenging yet creative exercise of self-critical receptive ecclesial learning from their own respective significant others. The event brought together approximately 200 church leaders, theologians, ecumenists, ecclesial bureaucrats, social scientists, organisational experts, and local church practitioners to spend four days and nights together. This conference focused on developing Receptive Ecumenism as an ecumenical strategy across a broad range of Christian traditions to highlight its relevance at the level of local church life.
Third International Receptive Ecumenism Conference (June 2014, Fairfield University, Connecticut)
Receptive Ecumenism in International Perspective: ecclesial learning in context
Drawing upon the fruits of the first (Durham, January 2006) and second (Durham, January 2009) International Receptive Ecumenism Conferences, the North East England Regional project, ARCIC III, and practical initiatives in Receptive Ecumenism in global context, the third conference was called Receptive Ecumenism in International Perspective: Ecclesial Learning in Context. This event was jointly organised by the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University CT, USA, and the Centre for Catholic Studies at Durham University, UK.
The gathering brought together a large number of church leaders, theologians, ecumenists, ecclesial administrators, and practitioners from Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions. This international conference focused specifically on Receptive Ecumenism relative to the more complex contexts of global Christian reality and some of the sharpest issues providing causes of tension and division within and between the traditions.
Fourth International Receptive Ecumenism (November 2017, Australian Catholic University, Canberra)
Leaning into the Spirit
The Centre for Ecumenical Studies as part of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture (CSU), together with The Australian Catholic University’s Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry and the Research Centre for Public and Contextual Theology (CSU) hosted the fourth International Receptive Ecumenism Conference. This conference built on the three previous conferences that introduced the basic idea of receptive ecumenism, firstly within the Catholic tradition and then more broadly across a wide range of Christian traditions.
The primary endeavour of the fourth conference was to explore the scriptural and theological underpinning of ecumenical learning focusing on discernment, decision-making and reception. This provided the basis for a consideration of patterns, structures and theologies of decision-making and authority in the various churches in the light of the challenge to each church to be receptive.