Hello everyone! My name is Jessica Buhler and I derive from a small town…
In a town of approximately 3000 people, churches were abundant. One on every street corner: Lutheran, Mormon, Anglican, Baptist, Evangelical, Mennonite, Mennonite Brethren, Catholic, First Nations.
Each year, my family would gear up for a new season of ecumenical activities with excitement. As a pastor’s daughter, I was accustomed to church leaders parading through the house on a regular basis. Coffee with the Lutheran pastor one day, entertaining the young Mormon missionaries the next.
My young Mennonite eyes witnessed the passing of a cup with wine (oh my!) at the Anglican Church when invited for communion. I knelt on the hard wooden bench for prayer, while listening to the mesmerizing mantra of the priest during Mass. I could smell the scent of sweet grass in our home after my father would perform a First Nations funeral. Long tables of delicious potluck entrees welcomed me after a baptism at the Baptist church. Our family would celebrate Easter every year with the Mennonite Brethren church down the street.
This was considered the norm. Simply a part of everyday life.
The Mennonite church was having Bible studies with the Catholic Church. Lenten Luncheon services took place at the United Church. There were pulpit exchanges happening throughout the town. Each year an ecumenical picnic and BBQ was had. A community wide Choral festival during the Christmas season was put on by the churches and included a large multi denominational choir, singing together. This choir was a symbol of unity of all churches, standing side by side; rehearsing to make sure each note was pitch perfect and finally giving a triumphant performance for the world to hear.
My best friend was the daughter of the Mormon Bishop. He was also my dentist. Small towns lend themselves to a sense of unity, not dependant on origin or beliefs. In a place where everyone knows you, your cousin, your dog and your pastor, there was no room for contention. Dialogue, confusion, and playful arguments I’m sure, but never disregard.
This has been my experience with ecumenism. My growing years were bursting with religious educational influences and as I continue to grow in my faith, I look back on them with fondness, as they have shaped me into the person I am today.
It is with excitement that I begin my position as Administrative Assistant here at the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism. As I acquaint myself with the people around me and the computer programs in front of me, I look forward to communicating ideas and the joys of life with all who come across our site.