1. concerning Church unity: relating to, involving, or promoting the unity of different Christian churches and groups
2. involving friendship between religions: involving or promoting friendly relations between different religions
Last night we hosted an ecumenical Ash Wednesday service. Unfortunately, other than our organist (who had to be there!) no one from the other church involved showed up! At first, I wondered whether or not I could still refer to it as "ecumenical" so I looked up the definition. Looking at the two definitions above, I determined that it WAS an ecumenical service since it was an attempt at church unity between our congregations.
There were some extenuating circumstances--the preacher from the other church was out of town and we recently hired one of their members as our organist (hurt feelings?) None the less, I can't really fault the ones who didn't come since many of our own members didn't come either. It was interesting to me to talk with some of the members before service who wondered, "When did we start doing this? Isn't this something that the Catholic church does?
I took that opportunity to better explain the season of Lent and the importance of this service as a "starting point." Did they understand? Only time will tell.
As for the ecumenical part, to me, the bottom line is this; we can offer to work together, to worship together, and to seek common ground, but we can not make that happen. I live in a small town and the only way we will be able to help all those in need is to work together. Let us hope and pray that we can find that common ground to be an agent of hope in our community!