Welcoming the Reuilly Contact Group

The Diocese of Leicester hosted a three-day gathering for the Reuilly Contact Group last week, bringing together representatives from the Church of Ireland, the Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church of Augsburg Confession of Alsace and Lorraine, the Reformed Church of Alsace and Lorraine, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of France and the Reformed Church of France.

The Reuilly Contact Group meets every two years to strengthen their commitment to worship, witness and service together, following the signing of the Reuilly Declaration in 2001. As well as spending time in theological dialogue, that attends to areas of continuing disagreement, the members of the group explore practical ways to live out their communion through opportunities for shared mission and collaboration.

While in Leicester, the group visited the St Philip’s Centre to learn about the interfaith work in the diocese, the Richard III Museum, and celebrated Evensong in the Cathedral. Bishop Martyn delivered an address to the group on intercultural church and the lessons that framework can offer to ecumenical partnerships, while Bishop Saju was joined by Revd Israel Selvanayagam to talk to the group about the Church of South India and Orthodox communities.

Revd Dr Tom Wilson, Director of the St Philip's Centre, reflected on his time with the Reuilly Contact Group, and said: “One of the things I really enjoy about my work at the St Philip’s Centre is when I meet with people who see the world very differently from me. Two of our values as an organisation are 'encounter' and 'understanding'. Encounters with those who have a worldview other than my own can lead to greater understanding of the complexity of society and equip me to learn how to live well together in a diverse yet cohesive society. It was therefore a great pleasure to host a group visiting from France and elsewhere in the United Kingdom as part of the Reuilly Conference.

“Inevitably samosas featured,” Tom said, "because one of the things I have learned in my 8 years of working in Leicester is that food and hospitality are important precursors to deeper, more meaningful conversations. We only had a couple of hours together, but we covered a lot of ground, focusing on the way Christian groups can work together with people of all faiths and no faith for the betterment of society and the good of all.

“This process of collaboration and cooperation will manifest itself differently in France from in Leicester, but the underlying motivation is the same. We see all people as created and loved by God, and want all to flourish, achieving their full potential. We can only do this if we remember that, as the late Jo Cox put it, we have more in common than that which divides us.”

The Right Revd Robert Innes, Bishop of Europe, said: “I am honoured to be co-chairing with our dear friend and colleague Bishop Esther Lenz this meeting of British and Irish Anglicans with representatives of the French Protestant Church. We chose to meet in Leicester because it offers such good practice in inter-faith working, and we wanted to see how far the approaches used in inter-faith work can help take forward our good ecumenical co-operation.

“We visited the St. Philip’s Centre and heard from both Bishop Martyn and Bishop Saju. We were prompted to ask: ‘What does it mean to be an inter-cultural church for a multicultural world?’ This event has given us a marvellous opportunity to deepen our theological understanding and also pursue ideas for practical collaboration in France.”

Bishop Martyn said, “In these divided and divisive times, it was a privilege to host the Reuilly Contact Group, whose members come together, from different countries, traditions and denominations, to focus on the faith, and the person of Christ, who unites us.”

First published on: 12th February 2024
Powered by Church Edit