I sometimes get a little suspicious when people talk blatantly about trying to be ecumenical - that is, referring to inter-denominational relationships among Christian churches. When I hear that word, I usually think of mainline church leaders getting together to draft statements about things that probably no one will read (is that cynical?). I'm starting to think ecumenism is something I ought to at least think about, because it does seem important to some folks.
I think it's possible that "top-down" ecumenism confuses me because (I think) I experience it at the grass roots already. I'm not saying that it's because I'm so cool, or I really do anything to make this happen (maybe I do, maybe I don't), but it's got a lot to do with the people I know.
I have good friendships with people who are Southern Baptists, former Southern Baptists, Methodists, Roman Catholics, former Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Independent Christian Church folks, holiness type groups (like the CMA), former Pentecostals, Quakers, and have almost never had the opportunity to barricade myself in a little group in which everyone has the same theological convictions. If I want to talk about faith and life with my friends, I will around my own dinner table (or theirs!) have a fairly diverse set of perspectives to work with, at least in the context of Western Christianity.
My first church community was a little Southern Baptist congregation in my little town on the Ohio River, in northeastern Kentucky. The pastor would periodically reiterate his policy of not talking about other Christian denominations in the pulpit. As far as he was concerned, he had a responsibility to "preach the word," not to criticize or judge other brothers and sisters who weren't even part of the same conversation. I have always respected that. I hope to have that kind of integrity some day.
My question wouldn't be, "how does one do ecumenism," but rather, "how in the world would one avoid it?"
Come back at me on this: I would enjoy your response to my thoughts, as well as your reflections on your own relationships (or lack of them?) with Christians of other traditions.
P.S. Darn it, the Roman Catholic Church is not the whole of Babylon. I am the whore of Babylon.
Update: Jim did the inter-faith thing last week.