Thomas Ferguson named TEC ecumenical and interreligious relations officer

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(ENS) The Rev. Thomas Ferguson has been named as ecumenical and interreligious relations officer for the Episcopal Church, according to a June 23 announcement from the Office of Public Affairs.

Ferguson will develop strategies and actions supporting Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's ministry as chief ecumenical officer of the Episcopal Church, the release said. "Working with colleagues, Ferguson will seek to foster ecumenical and interreligious dialogue and cooperation with other Christian communions and world religions."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsInter-Faith Relations

17 Comments
Posted June 23, 2010 at 5:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. John A. wrote:

So, PB KJS is now CEO of TEC ... ?

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s ministry as chief ecumenical officer of the Episcopal Church

June 23, 8:17 pm | [comment link]
2. Dilbertnomore wrote:

You sure that isn’t a typo in the first sentence and the second paragraph, second sentence? Shouldn’t it be ‘irreligious’ in stead of ‘interreligious’?

June 23, 9:02 pm | [comment link]
3. TomRightmyer wrote:

Tom Ferguson also served as staff to the Moravian Episcopal dialogue (a fact that escaped Episcopal News Service). That dialogue - on which I served - led to the 2009 General Convention’s approval of a full communion agreement which was recently approved by the synod of the Northern Province and which will come before the Southern Province synod September 10.

June 23, 9:58 pm | [comment link]
4. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

So, what happened to Bishop Epting, the ecumenical bishop?  Salary cut?  Run out of office space at 815?

June 23, 10:37 pm | [comment link]
5. Hursley wrote:

Ecumenical = Inter-religious in TEC’s vocabulary. Ah, yes. Of course.

June 23, 11:29 pm | [comment link]
6. A Senior Priest wrote:

Mrs S is now chief ecumenical officer, as well. Next she will call herself Autocrator, or will it be Megas Basilea? This title inflation was becoming laughable a lonnng time ago.

June 23, 11:44 pm | [comment link]
7. Ephraim Radner wrote:

Tom Ferguson is a smart, hard-working, ecumenically wise servant of the church.  I wish him well in what is clearly a difficult and confused time for aspect of TEC’s life.

June 24, 12:26 am | [comment link]
8. dcreinken wrote:

@TomRightmyer, I think Tom also staffed the Episcopal/Reformed Episcopal dialogue to the extent that there was one.

Former Presiding Bishop Griswold emphasized that the PB is the chief ecumenical officer of The Episcopal Church, and that the person who headed the office was the PB’s deputy.  This isn’t new, and reflects the role of the primate as the public face of the church.  I’m not sure if it’s a canonical description of the office, and I don’t have time to look it up right now.

Bishop Epting retired over a year ago, and Tom (Bishop Epting’s former Assistant Deputy Ecumenical Officer, or whatever the title was) served as the interim until this appointment.

Regardless of one’s opinions on where things stand within The Episcopal Church and Anglicanism, Tom is the kind of person you would welcome in the ecumenical office.

June 24, 8:41 am | [comment link]
9. A Senior Priest wrote:

How nice that Fr Ferguson is a fine man who is willing to work with such people and help TEC in these matters. There is, however, an ethical problem which accompanies a choice to work with and for people who do such abominable things people and parishes. I’m sorry to point this out Ephraim, but the image comes to mind of a good man who decides to assist a secular government in the control of an abominable, unjust, and persecutory regime in the furtherance of their objectives. I suppose he would still be a good man in himself, but would such a decision be right or good? No.

June 24, 11:15 am | [comment link]
10. dcreinken wrote:

I think, by definition, someone who is willing to work in an ecumenical office of any faith tradition is someone who is interested in finding ways to bridge divides between different belief structures and actions.  Ecumenists also usually aren’t willing to denigrate those who think or act differently, but prefer to find commonalities and see if those can be built upon.

June 24, 11:50 am | [comment link]
11. A Senior Priest wrote:

dcreinken (#10).... I found this quote most revealing, “I am honored to have the opportunity to continue to serve the presiding bishop and the Episcopal Church….” which says it all.

June 24, 2:33 pm | [comment link]
12. dcreinken wrote:

Yes, it says he is pleased in his new job and as deputy for ecumenical and interfaith relations, he does indeed serve the Presiding Bishop and the Episcopal Church.  Again, one would expect the same of anyone who would hold that office.  I don’t see why being an ecumenical officer for The Episcopal Church is somehow the opposite of “right or good” (Your words).

There are scores of bishops in TEC who are pleased with their jobs.  There are thousands of priests in TEC who are pleased with their jobs.  There are hundreds of thousands of laity in TEC who are pleased with their worship and parish membership.  Is that supposed to somehow reflect negatively on their character?

June 24, 2:42 pm | [comment link]
13. A Senior Priest wrote:

One hopes that the orthodox among us are ministering to their flocks, serving Jesus, and subtly, imperceptibly, undermining the foundations Mrs S and her friends are try to lay to ensure their permanent hegemony.

June 24, 3:37 pm | [comment link]
14. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

Well, well, well.  I see that Bp. Epting may be retired but still blogs at ecubishop.  And very interesting blog he’s got from 6-17-10:

“I have spent my entire life and ministry trying to help lead The Episcopal Church toward some of those same ends. From the renewal of worship and spirituality, to the empowerment of women, to work for justice and peace, to dismantling hierarchical forms of leadership by the ministry of all the baptized, to fuller inclusion of gay and lesbian persons in the life of the Church, to ecumenical and interfaith dialogue.

I had hoped that The Episcopal Church might provide some leadership in these areas to the rest of the Anglican Communion of which we are a part and indeed to the wider oikoumene, the Body of Christ, whether Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical and Pentecostal just as we have learned from and incorporated elements from them. However, today we are widely misunderstood, caricatured, and criticized in many circles.”

Looks like he plans to spend his retirement doing the same, I’d say.  But, looking on the bright side, I guess he no longer need fear the stocks in Central Park or being lashed down some significant NYC street or other.  And most of all, he won’t be made fun at cocktail parties for holding traditional Christian values in regard to sexuality.

Although, this seems a bit whinier in tone than the December the 7th, 2007, posting ...
“While it is no secret that I support the full inclusion of faithful gay and lesbian Christians in the life of the Church, let there be no mistake about the costly nature of such decisions in the life of The Episcopal Church and beyond.”

Seems like retirement is unlikely to have had the post occupied by any other than another true believer in the New Thang (r) Gozpell of EcUSA/TEc.  Witness Schori’s following Frank Grizwold.  Maybe the Unitarian-Universalists need some ecumening ... but doubtfully those recaltricant neolithic Orthodox and Roman types, and certainly not Anglicans who disagree with the New Thang (r) Gospell.

I’d say the new guy’s gonna have to find some ecumenical types to work with, actually.

June 24, 5:10 pm | [comment link]
15. dcreinken wrote:

The Episcopal Church currently has full communion relationships with
The Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht (since 1934)
Philippine Independent Church (since 1961)
Mar Thoma Syrian Church (since 1979)
The ELCA (since 2001)
Moravian Church (in process)

and is still engaged in ecumenical dialogue with the
Roman Catholics (Yes, ARCUSA still meets and will do so again in September)
United Methodists
Presbyterian Church USA
Churches Uniting in Christ

There’s quite a lot for an ecumenical officer to do, and with other Trinitarians to boot.

Alas, much to the dismay of some, I’m sure, the reports of the Episcopal Church’s death (or isolation) are wildly exaggerated.

June 24, 5:27 pm | [comment link]
16. Ephraim Radner wrote:

There is no reason that the Episcopal church should not talk to other Christians in a formal way—if they are willing in turn!—and the more the merrier.  I resigned from the Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations after the General Convention in 2003 because I felt that we had, as a church, not been consistent with our promises, and that our discussions were themselves thereby subverted.  However, at this time everybody knows what TEC has been up to, and are therefore going into such discussions with open eyes.  Engagements with other churches can, it seems to me, be a helpful (if still rather haphazard and loose) line of accountability.  The larger Communion, it can be argued, has been served by their engagements in this regard.  Tom Ferguson’s job, as people have noted and for different reasons, will not be easy;  all the more reason to hold him and his office in our prayers!

June 24, 10:26 pm | [comment link]
17. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

If one is in full communion, then that is, by definition, not an ecumenical relationship.  And the talks with the others might be occuring but they are not going anywhere.  You do recall that the whole ARCIC Mary thingy had to have Frank Grizwold removed to avoid contamination with the NEW THANG GOZPELL?

At any rate, as observed immediately above, no one “ecumen-ing” with TEc should have any doubt what the teccan gozpell is, how it differs from the gospel, and what strings are attached and how the legal system is a new part of the teccan experience.  Then, perhaps they can dialogue.  Like I said, the new guy needs to look for someone to ecumenate with.

June 24, 10:32 pm | [comment link]
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