Course: Embracing the Other

A resource for groups to explore Receptive Ecumenism together – asking what our church tradition can learn from others.

‘Receptive Ecumenism is both a way of thinking and a process that enables unity to be built by receiving gifts from others. It challenges us to not think of what others might benefit from receiving from us, but instead invites us to recognise our needs and to put ourselves in the place of being a recipient.’ 
Embracing the Other is a resource for groups to explore Receptive Ecumenism interactively, and can be run as either a single session or five separate sessions. 
The course is free for anyone to use, and includes both individual and collective exercises.  

It is designed for use with groups of various sizes, normally in the context of a Churches Together Group (or similar) or a Local Ecumenical Partnership. It could, however, be used in a variety of other settings, such as gatherings of church leaders or within the congregation of one tradition where other traditions are present. 

What is Receptive Ecumenism? 

Receptive Ecumenism is essentially very simple. Instead of asking what other Church traditions need to learn from us, we ask what our tradition needs to learn from them – what we can receive which is of God.  

If each of our church traditions were to ask this question and act upon it, the hope is that we would draw closer together as family in Christ, while also deepening our own respective identities.  

It has the potential to transform how we listen and relate as churches – learning from each other and recognising that we all have gifts to share. 

Information about the course 

  • The course is free to use, and there is no need to register. 
  • The logo is copyright-free for use in publicity. 
  • The course is flexible, so do use it as you wish. Outlines for both a stand-alone session and a five-session course are available below. 
  • Facilitator and participants booklets are available to download below (the facilitator booklets are most useful if read through beforehand) 
  • Various media resources for this course are available to aid discussion in the sessions. These include videos, images, and a sound file. They are all copyright-free, and are available at the bottom of this page. 
  • If you have any questions or comments, please email CTE

Two ways to run the course 

This course is very flexible. There are two main ways in which it could be run: 

A stand-alone session

  • The stand-alone session gives an introduction to Receptive Ecumenism and an opportunity to practise it.  
  • There are activities, discussion and prayer elements. 
  • It may be run as a day, or half-day conference. Alternatively, the course can be spread over five sessions. Material is provided for both options. 

A five-session course

  • Session 1: ’Presenting Receptive Ecumenism’ – an introduction that includes a welcome, ‘getting to know you’, setting the scene, and some images to discuss.  
  • Session 2: ’Giving an account of the hope that is in us’ – this includes prayer, a reading, a video and discussion about the hope we have as Christians and churches in the quest for unity. 
  • Session 3: ’Learning to Listen’ – this session helps us to hear one another deeply. It includes a video about when we are not listened to well, a discussion, readings, another video about times when Christians have been listened to well, an exercise and prayer. 
  • Session 4: ‘Listening to Learn’ – offering a chance to use our listening skills to understand each other’s traditions and experiences. It includes prayer, sharing, a video, reading and discussion groups. 
  • Session 5: ’Being the Branches of the Vine’ – this session concludes the course. It is a multimedia approach and looks to how we can use the insights gained by Receptive Ecumenism in the future. 

Download the course documents

Media resources for the course 

All resources are copyright-free and provided for use in discussion groups during the course (see the facilitator’s guides for more information) 



  • Download a prepared PowerPoint of images (for session 1). 


Sound file 

The sound file recorded to accompany the course has been written as a radio report: 

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