ESVBM celebrate 40 years

 The Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrated its fortieth anniversary on 5 July at a reception at Lambeth Palace. Bishop Christopher Hill welcomed the Society on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is on sabbatical. He said that a great achievement of the Society had been in providing a major archive of theological resource on Mary and ecumenism that had been used in preparation for ARCIC's document last year. Bishop Christopher has been one of the four denominational Moderators of the Society for several years. Founded by Martin Gillett and a group of ecumenically minded friends, to promote the cause of Christian Unity through a focus on Mary, it has theologians and scholars as members as well as lay people from all walks of life and Christian traditions. Fr Bill McLoughlin, OSM, Hon. General Secretary, read a message from Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, who recently became a patron. He said that the Society had helped bring about an important transition so that Mary is "seen less as a source of division and increasingly one who we jointly understand to be the Mother of God" It was his profound hope that "the society will continue to be a source of encouragement to Christians and that it will make a significant contribution in this important area of ecumenical work." Amongst those present were Metropolitan Kallistos Ware of Diokleia, Bishop Howard Tripp, Bishop Roger Jupp, The Abbott of Downside, Archimandrite Aemilianos Papadakis, former General Secretary, Dom Alberic Stacpoole OSB, St.Teresa Burke of Selly Park and Mr.Joseph Farrelly KCSG , Membership Secretary, who continued the work of Martin Gillett in developing the society in Britain , Dublin, Rome and America . Dr. John Newton, former President of the Methodist Conference, expressed the Society's thanks to the Archbishop, the Palace staff and the Librarian for their support in welcoming the Society and giving a guided tour of the palace and special exhibits. During the champagne tea, a book launch was held for Mary for Time and Eternity, the latest collection of ESBVM International Congress and conference papers on Mary and ecumenism, published by Gracewing. Following the reception, the Society's' ecumenical service of Evening Prayer in the Palace Chapel was led by the Abbot of Downside and sung by the Youth Choir of All Saints Church , Blackheath. Further information about the society can be found at: www.esbvm,org Amanda C Dickie ESBVM

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