The Beginning of Tomorrow: Call to the North – Churches Working Together in Mission

by and David Bebbington (foreword)

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Book Details

Format: Paperback (282 pages)

Publisher: Sacristy Press

Date of Publication:

ISBN: 978-1-78959-029-6

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In early 1973, all major Christian denominations united in an initiative of evangelism in the North of England. This is a unique account, written by the Secretary of Call to the North, which tells the story of this little known, yet momentous effort to join forces in proclaiming the gospel in a society shaped by increasing decline in church attendance and major social challenges.

Canon Hunter gives us a fascinating day-by-day insider’s account of the birth pangs of today’s ecumenism in the North of England.  A procession of worthy individuals of very different temperament and conviction invites us to join in their fifty-year journey to the focus that is ‘no longer on doctrinal uniformity or denominational loyalty, but on the Lord of the Church, on Jesus and his gospel, and on commending him to the people of the North’.  We who are the latest to join this procession are indebted to Canon Hunter for his lively chronicle.

Malcolm McMahon, Archbishop of Liverpool

This is a magisterial account of a unique time in the life and witness of Northern English Christianity. Ecumenical mission then was daring and brave, and this vivid, colourful and detailed narrative illustrates how hard it is to turn an idea into practice. Much can be learned from this past about how to do mission in the present.

Nicholas Baines, Bishop of Leeds

This is a timely and important book. The “Call to the North” remains unique as a province-wide ecumenical mission spearheaded by the denominational leaders involved. Canon Hunter is uniquely qualified to provide this closely observed account of it, one which reveals the difficulties of the enterprise and the ways found through them. CTN’s interlinking structure of small working parties in every parish, deanery and diocese, and their ecumenical equivalents, underlies much ecumenical life today. It also offers powerful evidence that shared  mission is the key to unity. Was it a child of its time or of the future? Surely both.

Richard Williams, author, editor, parish priest

This book is much more than a historical recording of an event, a process or how we have taken some huge steps towards unity. It is a narrative of ecumenical meetings and planning from 1968 in the north of England, including a focused week of mission. The story tells of significant strides forward in relationships and working together, and the significant considerations of mission and leadership are well worth reviewing in our time. It raises stimulating questions of mission and leadership.

Lindsay Tanner, Transforming Ministry

The book … is not an academic account, but that of an insider. The author … was involved from the beginning, and present at the key meetings with access to the relevant papers. This is the book’s strength.

For a reader today, it prompts a whole series of questions, to which the writer gives some answers. Why at this moment? What motivated the Churches to work together? Did it have a lasting impact?

It is hard to grasp now how unprecedented it was to have this degree of ecumenical co-operation.

Alan Billings, Church Times

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