Friday, July 8, 2011

Global Baptists plan dialogues with Orthodox, Pentecostals

The Baptist World Alliance, a fellowship of Baptist unions from around the world, has actively engaged in bilateral ecumenical dialogues during the past four decades. The BWA has held conversations with the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (1973-1977), the Lutheran World Federation (1986-1989), the World Mennonite Conference (1989-1992), the Anglican Consultative Council (2000-2005), and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (1984-1988 and 2006-2010); preliminary conversations were held with the Eastern Orthodox churches early in the 1990s but were suspended due to internal Orthodox matters. I had the privilege of serving as a member of the BWA delegations to the conversations with the Anglican Communion and the second round of Catholic conversations, and I am delighted with the developments communicated in the following BWA press release:

BWA to explore talks with Orthodox and Pentecostals

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) is to engage in preparatory discussions aimed at formal dialogue with Pentecostals and the Orthodox Church.

BWA General Secretary Neville Callam made the announcement at a meeting of the Executive Committee which convened during the BWA Annual Gathering in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on July 7.

The BWA Executive Committee, in its March 2011 meeting in Virginia in the United States, had authorized Callam to identify a small work team “to explore the commencement of BWA/Pentecostal bilateral dialogue.”

Callam told the Executive Committee in Kuala Lumpur that the first meeting with the Pentecostals will take place in the city of Birmingham, Alabama, in the United States, from December 13-15.

The BWA team will comprise Timothy George, dean and professor of divinity, history and doctrine at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham in the US, and chair of the BWA Commission on Doctrine & Christian Unity. Other members of the BWA team are William Brackney, director of the Acadia Centre for Baptist and Anabaptist Studies in Nova Scotia, Canada; Curtis Freeman, professor of theology and director of the Baptist House of Studies at Duke University in North Carolina in the US; Fausto Vasconcelos, director of the BWA Division of Mission, Evangelism and Theological Reflection; and Callam.

A four-person team appointed by Callam will also meet with representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Crete in November to discuss the possibility of future talks. Members of that team are George; Callam; Paul Fiddes, professor of systematic theology in the University of Oxford and formerly principal of Regents Park College in the United Kingdom; and Parush Parushev, academic dean, lecturer in applied theology, and director of the Institute of Systematic Studies of Contextual Theologies at the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Prague, Czech Republic.

More than 300 Baptist leaders and delegates are gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from July 4-9 for the BWA Annual Gathering. It involves yearly meetings of a number of BWA groups, including the General Council and the Executive Committee; executive sub-committees and divisional advisory committees; women’s, men’s, and youth departments; regional groupings; and commissions of the divisions of Freedom & Justice, and Mission, Evangelism & Theological Reflection, and others.

© Baptist World Alliance
July 7, 2011

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