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Dialogue explores opportunities, challenges of ecumenism

Four bishops and an ecumenical leader discuss “Bread Broken and Shared:  Challenges and Opportunities for Ecumenism Today”They are Christ Holy Sanctified  Bishop Walton Mize, Catholic Bishop William Skylstad, Episcopal Bishop Jim Waggoner, Lutheran Bishop Martin Wells and Alice Woldt of the Washington Association of Churches (WAC).

In a recent conversation planning their input, they shared a few glimpses of their thoughts on ecumenism:

• The beginning point of ecumenism is to keep talking with and loving each other.

• Ecumenism is a journey.  There is no exit from it.

• Ecumenism contrasts to the prevailing mentality that “you’re either for us or against us.”

The event is part of the Fig Tree newspaper’s annual Faith in Action Dialogue and launches its 25th anniversary celebrations.

The evening opens with fellowship and displays of ecumenical and interfaith ministries.  After brief comments from panelists, there will be discussion and a worship service led by other area church leaders.

“We will have a procession of different breads, visually representing our differences, brokenness and unity,” said Mary Stamp, editor.

The Faith in Action Dialogue focuses on ecumenical understanding and global issues affecting congregational life.

Each panelist shared some biographical background.

Bishop Mize
Bishop Walt Mize

• After graduating from high school in 1947 in Gary, Ind., Bishop Mize entered the university there before being drafted and serving six years in the Korean War.  Encountering Jesus and marrying Blanche in 1952, he entered Mt. Zion Full Gospel Church’s Bible College and Seminary in San Francisco. 

Ordained in 1958 he served Mt. Zion Church until 1963, when he went to Nigeria as a missionary, serving there periodically until 1985.  In 1975, he was consecrated bishop of the Nigeria Section.  He came to Spokane in 1989 as pastor of Lighthouse Tabernacle and bishop of the Pacific Northwest Regional Diocese.

Bishop Skylstad
Bishop William Skylstad


Bishop Skylstad left his home in Omak at 14 to attend seminary.  After training for the priesthood at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Ohio, he was ordained in the Diocese of Spokane in 1960. 

He served as assistant pastor in Pullman, principal of a high school seminary in Colbert, pastor in St. Joseph Parish in Colbert and pastor at Assumption Parish in Spokane.  He became chancellor in the diocese in 1976, Bishop of Yakima in 1977 and Bishop of Spokane in 1990.

Bishop Waggoner
Bishop Jim Waggoner


Bishop Waggoner, who was consecrated Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane in 2000, earned a bachelor’s degree at Marshall University and master and doctor of divinity, and doctor of ministry degrees from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va.  Before seminary, he served in the Navy. 

He served 21 years with the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia, 12 years in parish ministry and nine years on the bishop’s staff before coming to Spokane.


Bishop Martin Wells

Bishop Wells, a native of Colorado, has lived in Alaska, California and Washington most of his life.  After earning a bachelor’s degree in business in 1971 at the University of Denver and a juris doctor degree from the University of Puget Sound Law School in 1976, he completed a master of divinity degree from Pacific Lutheran Theological School in Berkley in 1981.

He and his wife, the Rev. Susan Briehl, have two daughters and have served in pastoral teams at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Bellingham from 1982 to 1986, as university pastors at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma until 1994 and then as executive directors and pastors at Holden Village retreat center off Lake Chelan. 

In 1999, he was elected bishop of the Eastern Washington Idaho Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a synod with 105 ministry sites from Jackson, Wyo., to Lake Chelan.

Alice Woldt
Alice Woldt

Woldt began in July as transitional executive director for the WAC, after serving as director of the Religious Coalition for the Common Good, public policy director for the WAC and 17 years in social justice, public policy and administration with the Church Council of Greater Seattle. 

She has a bachelor’s degree from South Dakota State University, taught and did organizing in Illinois before moving to Seattle in 1975, and has a master’s in public administration from Seattle University.  She is a member of Trinity United Methodist and Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Seattle.

The first edition of The Fig Tree was published in May 1984 under what was then the Spokane Christian Coalition. The newspaper and website cover news of the faith and nonprofit communities of the Inland Northwest to break through divisions among people of faith by building understanding, promoting unity and common action.

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