'Ecumenism in Retreat'
Mansfield alumnus Revd Dr Martin Camroux's (Theology, 1969) latest book is the first history of the United Reformed Church's ecumenical commitment and Mansfield College features heavily in the story.
In his enthronement sermon as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1942 William Temple famously declared the ecumenical movement to be ‘the great new fact of our era’. For much of the twentieth century it was the major hope for Church renewal. In 1964 in the UK the churches set 1980 as the date by which unity would be achieved. By the end of the century, however, the enthusiasm had largely dissipated, the organizations which represented it were in decline, and organic unity looked further away than ever.
One significant ecumenical merger took place - the creation in 1972 of the United Reformed Church, which saw its formation as a catalyst for the ecumenical renewal of the British churches. However its hopes for church renewal and for itself were equally illusory. With the failure of its ecumenical hope the Church had little idea of its purpose and found great difficulty establishing an identity. It suffered from severe membership loss and the hoped for missionary advantage promised by its ecumenical strategy did not materialize.
This is the first serious study both of the United Reformed Church and of the failure of the hopes for organic unity. It includes ground-breaking analysis of the mixed fortunes of Local Ecumenical Projects and of how the national ecumenical organizations withered. It ends with a commitment to a renewed ecumenical hope.
Revd Dr Camroux's work features a number of key figures from Mansfield's history, including our first Principal Dr Andrew Fairbairn and subsequent Principals William Boothby Selbie, Nathaniel Micklem, John Marsh and George Bradford Caird.