Want to know what ecumenism looks like? According to Paula Clayton Dempsey, you should try to find an old-fashioned farm community:
In our community, no one owned all the equipment necessary to run an entire farm. When it came to saving the season’s hay crop to feed the livestock, one farmer owned the mowing machine. My father owned the rake, which sat out by the tobacco barn, and anyone who needed it just came and borrowed it. Another farmer owned the machine used to bale all the hay for miles around.
The sweat and muscle expended to pick up the bales of hay and store them in the loft came from all the young people working together. The same young people who gathered on Sunday afternoon in our front yard to play baseball, in our side yard to play football, or in our backyard to play basketball. We played and worked together as a community, sharing our resources, our gardens, our joy and our grief.
On Sunday everyone in our community went to different churches or none at all. One neighbor to the Methodist church, one to the Presbyterian, another to the A.M.E. church, and we were Baptists. The church bell I heard every Sunday morning was from the A.M.E. church, yet I heard it calling all within earshot to pause and honor that the bountiful life we enjoyed was a gift from God.
Years later my father had enough money to purchase his own hay baler. No longer did we need our neighbors’ assistance; we had become self-sufficient. The process of harvesting our hay evolved into a mechanically driven family chore instead of a community project. As a result we began to spend less and less time with our neighbors.
Do please read it all.