Bishop Paul will deliver this year's Archbishop Blanch Memorial Lecture exploring the idea of Ecumenism in the 21st century.
The full title of the lecture being held on the November 18th at Liverpool Hope University is called “Ecumenism in the 21st century: blood, sweat and tears". We asked Bishop Paul why he has chosen this subject in particular;
"The relationship between the churches was close to Stuart Blanch’s heart and we know impressively Bishop David Sheppard and Bishop James Jones built on that foundation in partnership with our Roman Catholic and Free Church colleagues. I wanted to look at where the ecumenical endeavour is now, and to draw some lessons for the future."
In a more multi faith society is ecumenism still the relevant issue to be discussing?
"I believe so, because of Jesus’ prayer “that they may all be one” and because if we are to be in partnership with friends of other faiths and none, we need to understand one another still more."
How does it play out in our city, our diocese, our region?
In each generation we need to make sense of our Lord’s call to unity and here we’re off to a flying start. There’s such a rich and strong heritage here, most especially in the era of “Fish & chips” - Bishop David and Archbishop Derek, always seen together and never out of the papers! But right across the Diocese we see examples of practical ecumenism and of faithful friendship and dialogue, and we need to build on this and not lose momentum. In Wigan recently, for example, it was my privilege to preach at the welcome service for two Methodist colleagues who invited me because the three of us had been at college together. We need to celebrate and build on this heritage right across the Diocese.
What message do you hope people will take away from the lecture?
I hope that those who attend will understand something more of the ecumenical scene today, both the opportunities and to be honest some of the disappointments and frustrations also. And there will of course be a chance for questions and comments, so those who come will have a chance to contribute their own ideas and wisdom as we move forward - “Better Together”.