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"That we should walk together as if we were one"

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An audience with His Holiness Pope Francis. Photo by Donald Fishburne.

Embracing each other in ecumenical ministries

Our life-changing spiritual pilgrimage to the Anglican Centre in Rome

A guest blog post from CEEP member Donald Fishburne

More than two dozen Consortium leaders, spouses and friends had a life-changing spiritual experience on pilgrimage in October to the Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration of the Anglican Centre in Rome. The Centre is the permanent Anglican Communion presence there. It is the living reality of our Communion’s commitment to the full visible unity of the Church, working collaboratively with all Christians for justice and peace in the world.

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CEEP Pilgrims in Rome had a personally guided tour of the likely site of St. Paul's house arrest. Archbishop David Moxon, The Centre's Director, is a masterful storyteller who brings Spcripture and the importance of the ongoing archaeological dig to life. Photos by Donald Fishburne. 

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Sharon, together with the American Friends of the Centre, hosted a reception and dinner at the Centre on Tuesday evening of our visit. Wednesday worship featured Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby embracing each other as well as commissioning and sending archbishops and primates into the world on new ecumenical ventures inspired by a morning Colloquium long in the making.  Here is a summary. Consortium President Luke Back writes, “Pope Francis extended an invitation, ‘that we should walk together as if we were one.’ On October 5th the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope presided over Vespers at the Church of San Gregorio al Celio. A choir from Canterbury Cathedral and the Sistine Chapel Choir were part of the liturgy. Our Presiding Bishop and clergy from across the world were there to pledge themselves to work for the union of our churches and furthering of the Kingdom of God.” 

luke-dave-meredith-palace.jpgA gala fundraising dinner followed in the Palace and proceeds will enhance the modest endowment funds for the ministry of the Centre. 
Pictured are the Rev. Luke Back and Meredith Back, of Church of the Heavenly Rest, Abilene, TX, with the Rev. Dave Killeen and Carol Killeen, of St. John's Church, Tallahassee, FL. Photo courtesy of Luke Back.

Luke Back continues, “At the service Meredith and I attended, Pope Francis and the Archbishop sent nineteen pairs of bishops, one Roman Catholic, one Anglican/Episcopalian, out to work together in unity and mission. Before sending the bishops forth, the Pope and the Archbishop stood side by side and blessed them in pairs. There was no attempt at legislation, only the charge to ‘act as if we were one,’ based on the words of Jesus in John 17. “Christians face deep, culturally embedded evils that oppress God’s children around the earth. Sir David Moxon and the Anglican Centre have encouraged CEEP to confront the spread of human trafficking and sex trade slavery.  We must, as St. Gregory did many centuries ago, see in every child’s face an angel of God calling us to set this soul at liberty, to be alive and free. These bishops go forth into a world that will fight their efforts. They will need one another’s help and support, and ours."

The Very Rev. Kurt Dunkle is President of the American Friends of the Centre and says, "the only time-tested way to fall in love is to begin by holding hands.  For fifty years, we have practiced holding hands with our brothers and sisters in Christ who speak Jesus with a different accent.  Now, with so many fellow Episcopalians joining in the celebrations and gatherings, we have hundreds more hands to hold out.  Alleluia!  And, thank you for being pilgrims to Rome."

Dave and Carol Killeen hosted the pilgrimage. Dave has served on the CEEP Program Committee and is on the Board of the American Friends of the Anglican Centre in Rome as well as the Board of Episcopal Relief and Development. He accepted Austin Rios’ invitation to preach at St. Paul's Within the Walls – another highlight of the pilgrimage. The pilgrims' morning there included spotlights on their refugee ministries, history of St. Paul’s, and a just-completed restoration of features of the church including mosaics.

Former CEEP President Donald Fishburne, together with Sarah Fishburne, designed and managed the custom pilgrimage, using www.EO.Travel/Episcopal that provided a senior staff member and a local guide manager night and day for the group in Rome. Donald is already planning future custom pilgrimages to Rome, including the Centre.  Donald@DonaldFishburne.net

Note: The CEEP office is so grateful to our members, especially Donald, for sharing their special pilgrimage experience via photos and words of reflection. Thank you, thank you!