‘Where We Dwell in Common’
Pathways for Dialogue in the 21st Century
An Ecumenical Gathering organised by
Ecclesiological Investigations International Research Network
17th – 20th April 2012
You are cordially invited to become involved in this large-scale international and ecumenical gathering exploring the theme of dialogue from the perspectives of the past, present and future. The overall aim is to discern new ways, means and methods of advancing the ecumenical cause in the wake of the ‘ecumenical winter’ and with renewed energy for a new century. It is intended to be not so much a conference, as the beginning of a process or series of ongoing processes. This gathering will seek to identify, share and shape, as well as to put into practice, productive pathways for dialogue in these times. It wishes to encourage ecumenical ‘thinking outside the box’ and to gather together a richly diverse array of voices in order to help make this happen.
We do not only wish to encourage innovation, but also to learn from the best of the past. Therefore, at this gathering, we will seek to revisit, learn from and renew and adapt some of the methodologies employed to great effect in ecumenical conversations in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as those visibly dialogical and therefore successful ecclesial gatherings such as Vatican II and bi-lateral and multi-lateral ecumenical assemblies and working parties during the second half of the twentieth century. We will also seek to learn from more recent successful ecumenical ventures and different ways of approaching dialogue from both within and without the ecumenical movement. Where particular pathways for dialogue have proved innovative and successful, despite the challenges faced in ensuring genuine conversation takes place, we will seek to learn from these stories.
In all, we hope to discuss, to enhance and to promote the ‘science of bridge-building’ for our contemporary communities and for their shared tomorrows. Naturally the challenge of dialogue today spreads far beyond the intra-Christian world and so inter-faith and still wider dialogue will naturally also feature at our gathering as important themes.
We will also wish to learn from those with experience in peace-building and conflict resolution and to discern how the methods, strategies and sheer resilience of such initiatives might be adaptable to the ecumenical and inter-faith situations we seek to address.
The venue of Assisi has been chosen because of its long and instinctive association with openness, charity, dialogue, peace, harmony and communion – with the particular charisms of the orders founded by Francis and Clare alike having helped inspire countless ventures in promoting dialogue and openness amongst peoples.
We are seeking as wide a range of voices to be present as possible. In turn we are also seeking as wide a range of supporting institutions and organizations as possible.
We are also seeking the necessary sponsorship that will enable the event to take place in as well-organized and inclusive a fashion as possible as well as the funds required to enable participants from the different continents of the world to be present, alongside other delegates who would otherwise be unable to participate, including the emerging generation of scholars and church-people to be present and have their voices heard.
We would be very happy also if you would encourage colleagues and friends to take part in this gathering as well. Details of the call follow below.
Aside from the Center for Catholic Thought and Culture at the University of San Diego, this event already has attracted support and participation from members of the University of Chichester UK, Duke Divinity School, USA, Georgetown University, USA, New York Theological Seminary, the University of Oxford and Ripon Theological College, Cuddesdon, UK, University of Tübingen, Germany, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, and the University Urbaniana, Rome. We welcome interest, support and especially sponsorship towards the general organisational costs and the costs to bring participants from countries and contexts where funding would otherwise make their participation impossible.
- This event will bring together a coalition of individuals, groups and research networks, including those with experience in official organisation responsible for ecumenical dialogue.
- The conference will take place across 4 days, including 3 full days, each with a specific theme, subdivided into other thematic sections.
- Constructive and communicative methodologies will be utilised in these differing forms of dialogue towards facilitating positive outcomes and forward-thinking orientation. Directed group work will form a fundamental part of the gathering.
- A plenary panel session opens the conference and there will be one full plenary panel session on each full day, with parallel short paper sessions, ‘parallel plenary’ sessions and more informal ‘Food for Ecumenical Thought’ sessions throughout the days.
- Additional plenary activities such as liturgy, historical and background talks will form an integral part of the gathering, along with significant amounts of time for both structured and informal discussion and conversation.
- There will be opportunities for individuals, communities and organisations to display and address questions concerning ‘posters’ in relation to their work throughout the conference.
- It is envisaged that approximately three hundred participants will be the optimum number to ensure a reasonably representative gathering of diverse voices takes place.