Commenting after a 12-13 November conference in Bristol on the future of the ecumenical movement among Christians, Simon Barrow, co-director of the religion and society think-tank Ekklesia, said:
"This was a positive and hopeful gathering about the search for unity in a climate which can sometimes seem tough and un-inviting, both within the churches and in wider society.
"In the light of the continuing decline of inherited church structures in the post-Christendom era, and in the face of strong sectarian forces within both organised religion and organised secularism, there are a significant and growing number of Christians working at the grassroots and cooperating for peace and justice who see the need for a different kind of unifying Christian witness. It is hope for people and planet, not for 'our own alone', that is the key 'love your neighbour' challenge in the C21st.
"One question is whether the historic churches, especially those with more power and money, who can be very self-protective, are willing to invest in faith as movement rather than religion as institution. The founder of Christianity warned his followers that those who seek to save themselves at the expense of others have lost the plot. At present the big churches are still trying to cling on to past privileges. They need to learn to 'let go' in creative and hopeful ways."