Chester Cathedral hosted a day conference on 9th November devoted to ‘The Joys and Challenges for Joint Anglican and Roman Catholic Schools’. SCALA has links with several of these schools and is very interested in the ways such ecumenical partnerships are developing and the evolution of a philosophy, theology and praxis of collaboration. Delegates were welcomed by the Bishop of Chester and a representative of the (Roman Catholic) Bishop of Shrewsbury. Students from St Chad’s joint CE/RC Academy in Runcorn led, very movingly, introductory worship after which Archbishop Malcolm McMahon (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool) talked about what we share – one faith, one baptism and one Christ – indeed, an understanding that Christ is in all things. It was possible through a focus in school on Christ and his representation of the Way, the Truth and the Life to grow common perceptions and purposes in such joint schools. The ‘Grace’ of God animated the distinctiveness of such schools, the Archbishop claimed. At a practical level such schools were beacons of social cohesion, evangelism and the living out of the Gospel. Challenges that the Archbishop foresaw included a rationale (desire or necessity) for the establishment of more such schools, harmonization of mission intent, a common battle against secularisation, ways in which such schools best served society and the need to maintain sufficient denominational identity within such joint enterprises.
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