The Collegeville Institute’s approach to ecumenism, like Christianity itself, is profoundly incarnational. Beyond research conducted and books written, the Institute’s impact on the world can best be measured in terms of people and relationships. Through each of the Institute’s offerings, leaders of diverse Christian faiths and beyond come together to study, write, pray, eat, and learn with one another. In so doing, they form unlikely networks of friendships that have far-reaching consequences for the places and organizations to which they return after their time at the Institute.
The Collegeville Institute has a deep historical commitment to ecumenism. Today, as both the church and world undergo tremendous change, the Institute remains strong in its commitment to unity. Our commitment to ecumenism is marked by openness to new paths to achieve unity as well as eager anticipation of challenging and fruitful conversations surrounding the current shifts in the church and world. Some such shifts we are particularly interested in include:
- the decline of denominationalism and the rise of religious entrepreneurship
- the hardening and defining of religious identity, according to positions, opposition, and the “culture wars”
- the development of new forms of religious association, including New Monasticism, the “spiritual but not religious” phenomenon, and the tendency for many to attend religious services, but not join churches
- a sense of global interdependence
- the rise of a new atheism, agnosticism, or the “nones” (i.e. the non-affiliated, who, as a Pew poll of religious belief stated, “believe nothing in particular”
- the negative public image of the church among many young people
- the fading of religious formation among both youth and adults.
- the greater interest among youth in doing things (work and service) over believing things (doctrinal and polity distinctions
- the rise in interfaith relations