Most Wednesday mornings I meet with a small group of colleagues for text study and sermon preparation for the upcoming Sunday. We are an eclectic bunch, and sound like the beginning of a joke – a priest, some ministers, and a rabbi were having coffee…
Each week we look at the same texts and have very different takes on meaning, approach, and what is important for congregants to hear. We have our own individual starting points. In the exchange of ideas, we turn over new thoughts, a story to illustrate shared there, an exegetical insight shared here, and our own perceptions become more full. But they are still our own.
Last week I was on retreat with other State Ecumenical Executives from across the country. It’s a comfort to be among colleagues who know exactly what it is we do, no explanations necessary. But even still, every one of us has a unique take on our roles. Every Board we work with is different. Every state has particular geography and demographics, which help to shape the ecumenical mission. We each tell related, but different stories.
None of us can tell the story of the other with complete integrity. I can try to be faithful, but I will get things wrong simply by virtue of filtering the language through my own way of speaking, tone, what I emphasize, and what I leave out.
Ecumenism with integrity requires that synthesis not squelch what is unique. Ecumenism with integrity requires a multitude of voices.