Skip to main content

Ecclesial Learning About Women and the English Churches Through Receptive Ecumenism

This research, funded by the National Board of Catholic Women (NBCW), was conducted by the Rev. Dr Gabrielle Thomas from October 2017 to June 2019.

It explores the experiences (both positive and negative) of women within their respective ecclesial traditions/contexts, asks what kinds of gifts women bring to their churches, and tests how Receptive Ecumenism helps women from radically diverse traditions learn and receive gifts from one another. At the heart of Receptive Ecumenism lies the belief that each faith tradition has an ecumenical responsibility to ask, ‘What do we need to learn from the other to help us address difficulties in our own tradition?’

The churches represented in the research include Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Orthodox, United Reformed, Assemblies of God, Independent Evangelical and Independent Pentecostal. In total, 122 women, ranging from 21 to 91 years of age, have contributed to this research, either through focus groups or interviews. Five focus groups were held during 2018, each comprising between 8 and 18 women. The groups gathered in various locations across England and met during the day for 6-8 hours.

The Project Report is designed to:

  • Demonstrate the complexity of women’s experiences of working within a range of churches in England

  • Provide a snapshot of how women are using their gifts across diverse churches

  • Outline some of the challenges women encounter within their traditions

  • Inspire women to engage in Receptive Ecumenism more widely

Three different models of engaging in Receptive Ecumenism were developed during the research. These are copyright-free and can be used by anyone who would like to explore Receptive Ecumenism within small or large groups.