History of the Society for Ecumenical Studies

The Society for Ecumenical Studies was founded in 1994, and is committed to study and work towards Christian unity. It is an association for all those who want to inform themselves about and contribute to ecumenism. The members include specialists as well as interested non-specialists. The Society for Ecumenical Studies promotes the active involvement of lay people in the governance of the Churches and their mutual relations and is especially concerned to encourage the recovery of ecumenical enquiry as an essential element of clergy and lay training.

Annual Seminars

Our Annual General Meeting in London every spring is an opportunity to concentrate on major aspects of ecumenical thinking or re-thinking. Recent discussions have included:

London Ecclesiology Forum

The London Ecclesiology Forum ran for several years, meeting every two months or so, looking at such topics as:

Regional Events

Notable regional events include

Conferences with Partner Bodies

A growing feature of the Society's work has been to work with other ecumenical bodies, formally and informally, to stimulate ecumenical study across a wide range of perspectives. The regional Birmingham event was a collaboration with the Centre for Black Theology at Birmingham University. Other past joint meetings and events include:

National Events

A new departure is events of national significance. Working closely with the St Albans Cathedral ecumenical Centre for Christian Study and the Hertfordshire Newman Association, the Society was instrumental in bringing together in 2003 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Revd Elizabeth Welch, former Moderator of the URC, Bishop Joe Aldred of the Church of God of Prophecy (now of CTBI), Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK, Dr Tina Beattie of the University of Surrey Roehampton, and Elaine Appelbee of the Anglican Diocese of Bradford, to get to the heart of the question, 'May they all be one'…..But How?

In September 2005, the Society worked with the Iona Community to bring together young ecumenical leaders of the future. All the denominations involved in the Churches Together process were invited to send two delegates, and the facilitators included Dr Alison Elliott, former Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Dr Garnet Parris, Director of the Centre for Black Theology at the University of Birmingham, and Fr Bill Henn OFM Cap, from the Pontifical Council for Promoting the Unity of Christians.

Discussion and Dissemination

A newsletter circulates among members with texts of any presentations sponsored by the Society and promotes consultation and prayer for unity on current matters of ecumenical concern or moment. To enhance the process of collaboration and consultation, the Society has recently become a Body in Association with Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. Increasingly, the Society's website - www.ecumenicalstudies.org.uk - serves to widen the discussion, to think aloud with the Churches in their quest for Unity, and to engage as many as possible in the ecumenical task laid upon us all by Christ - 'that they all may be one…….so that the world may believe'.