ecumenical relations and evangelism

Recently I have been going to activities of a fundamentalist church I used to go to. (I’ve only been Catholic the past 2 years). I primarily thought it would be good to reconnect and break down misconceptions of Catholics, build Christian unity, and if I can get someone interested in turning to a more traditional perspective I definitely won’t complain about that! The leaders of that place are very leery of outsiders, especially Catholics and have recently started interrogating me on my motives. I’ve been enjoying dialogue with old friends,I haven’t been confrontational, but these ministers who told me they are afraid I am a “wolf coming to steal their sheep” are making me feel very stressed. Any suggestions on how to handle this? For many of these people, I’m the only Catholic they really have conversations with.

When they tell you that start sprinkling them with holy water and yelling “the power of Christ compels you!”

No seriously, I would just assure them that you have no motive to proselytize but these are your old friends and you want to stay connected to them. Tell them that just because your beliefs may have changed you still want to stay connected to the people that are important in your life. Also, remind them that we are all one in the body of Christ and we can focus on what we have in common, not our differences. I think in time they will start to recognize that you are not a threat to their flock.

You probably are right- it will just take a little bit of time for them to realize I’m not a threat. Though I don’t mind the idea of keeping some holy water on hand just in case!

Hmm … hard to know what to say. I’m certainly not against ecumenism, but Catholics and Fundamentalists seems a very tough combination. Expect a lot of sparks.

We can be ecumenical in certain matters such as condemning abortion, gay marriage, and other social issues that do not go against Church Doctrine and even have theological discussions. But where we cannot be ecumenical is in the Holy Supper. When we go to receive the Holy Supper, it perceives that everyone at the altar rail is of like mind in doctrine. Too many think that it would be wonderful to receive communion at a Catholic or Lutheran church without realizing what they are receiving.

That sounds right to me.

Sparks have flown a few times. At one activity a girl asked (since I had been coming to a few events), “When did you realize you had made a mistake by leaving here, fallen away from God, and needed to come back here to have a relationship with God?” I had to set her clear and straight on that one ;). Though it really angered me, I was even more sad for her that she has so many barriers before she could even consider another way of thinking and her church leaders are atleast partly to blame.

I completely agree with that. Steps to real unity can only be based on truth.

I trust you explained that your relationship with God only really started when you entered into full communion with the Pope.



I’m just kidding, naturally. But seriously, I try to be sympethetic with people who are more ecumenical-minded and also with those who are not-so-ecumenical-minded … but some people just make me think “Yeesh.”

I’d say stop doing it. Think about it from their point of view: you left their church and now you’re showing up at their functions to discuss your faith. I guarantee I’d be angry if former Catholics were showing up a my church’s activities trying to “break down misconceptions” about their group.

I think you’d be much better off attending your local Catholic church’s activities and growing in your own relatively new faith. As for your old fundamentalist friends, there is nothing stopping you from reconnecting with them outside of their church functions. Ecumenical relations work better on neutral grounds anyhow.

I have a suggestion. Stop going to their meetings, chat with your friends in other contexts - over coffee, lunch, dinner, or when playing sport or other activities.

And a second suggestion which is more of an observation is to remember that you are an outsider now, as far as your former denomination is concerned, so your perspectives are discounted because they come from an outsider. Be aware of your new status and take it into account before you offer an opinion about events and issues within that denomination’s meetings.

God bless.

I definitely hear what you’re saying, but I want to chime in that it really depends.

Trying to describe all the different Christians I’ve known who are former-Catholics would take all day … but suffice it to say that I’ve known several who, while firm in the beliefs of the church/denomination, aren’t triumphalist about it or in-your-face about the fact that they were once Catholic.

Thanks for the thoughts. I think I may need to back off some, though re-visiting my past was interesting: seeing where I’ve personally grown since then and how it was something that helped me get where I am today. Though ecumenicism is something that is important to me, it wasn’t the only reason why I started going. An old girlfriend I ran into did prompt me to start checking out stuff- and she is kinda cute :). I really get the impression that her church leaders would get more involved in the relationship than I would want them to be. I am starting to feel it would not be worth it to rekindle anything.

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