The "Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement", a newly expanded and revised edition has just been published. Produced by the World Council of Churches (WCC), this volume is an essential tool for study and research on the movement and for passing the ecumenical memory on to a new generation.
With almost 700 articles, 50 of them new and the others revised and updated, and 370 authors from all Christian confessions and world regions, the new edition of the dictionary is a window into the richness and diversity of ecumenical thought and action.
Eight thousand copies of the first edition were printed and it is now out of print. This second edition maintains the accuracy, objectivity and wide range of the first edition, and takes account of the major changes that have taken place in the world, and the life of the churches, during the decade since it first appeared.
Readers will thus find new articles on subjects like "economic globalization", "ethnic conflict", "religious roots of violence"', as well as "Pentecostal-Reformed dialogue", "Baptist-Orthodox relations"', and "theology of religions", among many others.
As with the first edition, editorial responsibility for the dictionary was entrusted to six leading ecumenical figures: Nicholas Lossky, Josi Miguez Bonino, John Pobee, Tom F. Stransky, Geoffrey Wainwright and Pauline Webb. Themes include: - principal developments in the history of the ecumenical movement at world, regional and national levels; - the life and work of the WCC and other ecumenical bodies and organizations; - ecumenical concerns of the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian families; - important discussions and agreements reached, and ongoing disagreements on doctrinal matters; - social, political, legal, cultural and ethical issues from a Christian perspective; - evangelism and mission, worship and prayer, education and the renewal of the church; - Christian responsibility towards the poor and their place in church and society; - communicating the ecumenical vision and dialogue with other faiths; - biographies of distinguished personalities, and an index of leaders and thinkers whose contributions appear in the articles.
Throughout its 1,300 pages, multiple cross-references provide links between the articles, thus enabling wider exploration of the various themes. The bibliography was composed with the average reader in mind, and its capacity to supply him/her with additional information.
While at present available only in English, the dictionary will also be published shortly in French, Italian and Spanish editions, and the possibility of German and Russian versions is also being investigated. One article per month will be published on the WCC website over the coming year, at: http://www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/who/dictionary-index.html .
The constantly changing nature of the ecumenical landscape and the challenges presently confronting traditional ecumenical orientations inevitably makes publishing such a work as this a risky undertaking. Nonetheless, as WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser indicates in the prologue, the dictionary is intended "to be a source of inspiration and reliable orientation for all those who have accepted the call to the unity and renewal of the church as a personal commitment".
By Albert H. Lee