Members of Christian communities gather for ecumenical Easter lunch
Msgr Philip Heng (far left) speaking to members of the various Christian churches and communities.
The Archdiocesan Catholic Council for Ecumenical Dialogue (ACCED) held its third Easter lunch for pastors and pastoral staff of various Christian churches and communities on March 31 at Crossings Café at Waterloo Street.
The informal gathering was to allow members of ACCED and some Catholics who have assisted in past events as well as members of different Christian traditions to foster closer ties of friendship.
Msgr Philip Heng, Vicar-General of Ecumenical Relations, welcomed all present and expressed his joy at having the informal lunch as the building block of ecumenism is at the level of personal relationships.
When we can relate to each other at the level of friendship, the process is smoother, he said.
Three invited leaders shared what Christian unity meant to them personally. Rev Malcolm Tan, pastor-in-charge at the Covenant Community Methodist Church quoted the saying often attributed to St Augustine: “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things, charity.”
He made the point that what unites Christians are the essentials of the faith in the Risen Lord.
Rev Chan Mei Ming, a member of Leng Kwang Baptist Church shared that unity must be at the level of truth. She shared her experience of ecumenism at the practical level in the collaboration and help received from Catholic communities such the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary Sisters and the Church of St Ignatius.
Rev Nick Singh from the Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer shared his conversion experience from Sikhism and how it was in various churches that he experienced God.
The witness and encouragement of various Christian friends led him eventually to become a Lutheran pastor. He reiterated that all Christians witness to the Risen Lord and it is this that unites them.
Fr Michael Arro shared about the history of ecumenism in Singapore. He spoke about how ecumenical dialogue began here after the promulgation of the Second Vatican Council decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, in 1964.
It was enthusiastically received by the various Christian Churches. Two large rallies were organised, one of which was at the former National Theatre. There was a good turnout of around 3,000 people.
Forty pastors met regularly at least once a month to share and discuss topics such as abortion. Charismatic prayers were also held and attended by two bishops, the late Archbishop Gregory Yong being one of them.
Over the years however, the ecumenical movement slowed down as the pastors got older and were subsequently transferred out. There are now attempts at reviving this movement.
Fr Arro reiterated that ecumenism should not remain at the level of pastors but must reach the grassroots. He urged everyone present to encourage the spirit of ecumenism in their respective congregations.