Yesterday , I referred to a post by Peter Phillips, Reflecting on metropolitan ecumenism and grassroots mission . The idea of metropolitan ecumenism intrigues me. Phillips implies he found the term elsewhere but I have found no other references to it following a Google search. This is Phillips' definition:
So what is meant by metropolitan ecumenism? Basically, to me it means ecumenism that is handled in London and by central office - hierarchical ecumenism - top down ecumenism. My own first reaction to the speech was a good example - I went back to statements which had been issued by high-ranking meetings and agencies. I went to the central tenets of Methodism and agreed wholeheartedly with what David Gamble said. I argued it was fully in accord with what Methodists say about the Covenant and fits in well with that Covenant (and see the others who say the same within the same metropolitan media-style ecumenical perspective above). I'd stick with that and I don't think there is anything wrong with such a viewpoint. But the very danger is that we do stick there. Sometimes we get set into a kind of networked mindset - where academics involved in a network end up in an ivory tower which is really helpful for their own research but misses the point of what is actually happening on the ground. Metropolitan ecumenism is only as good as ecumenism on the ground. We cannot and will not see unity within the Church through the dictat of any Synod or Committee. Unity comes from the grassroots but can be enabled and empowered by metropolitan enthusiasm.
On a practical level, metropolitan ecumenism might be a useful phrase to describe what I have tended to call 'central' or 'national' ecumenism. I think the distinction between metropolitan and local is an important one and I have addressed it several times on this blog under the name of ecumenical reception .