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Reform Magazine | September 26, 2020

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Here & now: Victoria Turner

Here & now: Victoria Turner

Victoria Turner looks at an ecumenical controversy

‘Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.’ (NIV)

This passage from 1 Corinthians was the focus of the United Reformed Church’s 2019 Youth Assembly. Hannah Jones, Immediate-past Moderator of the URC Youth Assembly, and her Youth Executive team, brought together three connecting themes concerning young people in the URC: social justice, the environment and inclusivity. The biblical theme of diversity in unity, inspires and empowers me daily as a URC youth, an ecumenical Christian and a theologian.

My PhD looks at the different ways young people understand and are involved in ecumenism and mission in contemporary Britain. There has been a lot of discussion about how the younger generation will achieve Christian unity, with much popular and scholarly literature expressing concerns about our ‘ecumenical winter’. I was filled with optimism when the ecumenical group Churches Together in England (CTE) decided in 2018 that their forum should include two adults under the age of 35 from each denomination, to encourage youth participation. That optimism was crushed with news on 22 November 2019 that one president, a Quaker, had been denied her seat.

I remember my surprise, at the 2018 CTE forum, at seeing six middle-aged-to-elderly males holding all the President roles. Hannah Brock Womack (pictured right), described by Quakers in Britain as a ‘young, radical peace activist’, would have been the dreadfully needed breath of fresh air into this ecumencial scene…

Victoria Turner is a PhD researcher in ecumenism at New College, Edinburgh

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This is an extract from an article that was published in the February 2020 edition of Reform

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