In the late 1940s here in Dallas, an ecumenical impulse paved the way for the formation in 1950 of a collection of churches representing a number of different denominations. Originally formed as the Dallas Council of Churches, the group gathered at East Dallas Christian Church to launch its important work. Eventually known as the Greater Dallas Community of Churches (GDCC), the ecumenical association spoke to some of the community's most pressing social, cultural, political and religious issues and concerns.
Chief among the early concerns facing and addressed by GDCC were matters of race and civil rights. Much of the discussion and progressive work accomplished relative to race relations and civil rights in Dallas throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s took place among and was orchestrated by the group.
Much more could be reported concerning the history of GDCC. Ecumenical dialogue and understanding, interfaith understanding, children's issues, education, community health and wellness, peace and justice work, livable wage and the economy--these and other important matters concerned and occupied the time and attention of GDCC.
At one point the organization boasted a membership of over 300 congregations.
By the late 1990s, GDCC moved into the last phase of its organizational life. A number of reasons stood behind the dissolution of the group in 2005. But, we can hold that discussion for another time, possibly by some other blogger.
I bring this up simply to say, Dallas needs a new ecumenical expression today.
That said, I'd hasten to add that our very different times call for a much different response on the ecumenical front.
What's needed to day, in my view at least, is not so much think tank, focus group or endless conversation. Rather, what Dallas needs from Christians of all varieties and traditions is faith-formed action.
Dallas needs a new, energetic, ecumenical action.
To be successful, action must define, energize and direct any new, organized, sustainable ecumenical movement.
I think the upcoming Dallas area Justice Revival (November 10-12, 2009 at Dallas Market Hall) offers Dallas the platform necessary for organizing a completely new ecumenical presence, an interdenominational movement defined by determined, continuing action.
The Justice Revival brings to Dallas a call to action on behalf of area public schools and in support of new housing policies and development for our chronically homeless neighbors. Combining a robust ecumenism with insistence on continued action, the Dallas Justice Revival (click for great commentary) could launch a new, relevant, organized movement of unity and purpose among Christians of all sorts.
That's the intention.
That's the hope.
Look for me at the Justice Revival. I'll be looking for you!