Saturday, July 4, 2009

Baptist Ecumenical Dialogues with Other World Communions

In Thursday's Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly workshop "Ten Things You Can Do for the Unity of the Church," my sixth recommendation was, "Learn all you can about other denominational traditions." I suggested to those who attended the workshop (who were all Baptists) that one helpful approach to learning about other denominations that focuses specifically on what Baptists have in common with other traditions as well as how we differ with them would be to study the reports of ecumenical conversations between the Baptist World Alliance and other world Christian communions. These reports recount the stories of the two denominations in relation to one another, explain the things the two traditions can affirm together, and name the ongoing matters of disagreement that merit further conversation. Sometimes they have proposed practical steps that can be taken at the local level to enhance unity between the two communions. Since the early 1970s the BWA has held such dialogues with the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran World Federation, the Mennonite World Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council, and partially with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Orthodox Churches. I promised workshop participants that I would post hyperlinks to the report texts that are currently available online. Here they are:

Baptist World Alliance-World Alliance of Reformed Churches (1973-1977)
Baptist World Alliance-Roman Catholic Church (1984-1988)
Baptist World Alliance-Mennonite World Conference (1989-1992)
Baptist World Alliance-Anglican Consultative Council (2000-2005)

Australian Baptist Ken Manley provides an informative overview of these conversations in his paper “A Survey of Baptist World Alliance Conversations with other Churches and Some Implications for Baptist Identity,” available on the BWA web site.

This approach to learning about other Christian traditions may of course be taken by members of other denominations that have engaged in international ecumenical dialogue. A web page maintained by the Centro Pro Unione in Rome provides links to online agreed texts from selected interconfessional dialogues. Texts from dialogues involving the following communions and organizations are currently linked: Anglican Consultative Council, Roman Catholic Church, Assyrian Church of the East, Baptist World Alliance, Coptic Orthodox, Mlankara Syrian Orthodox, Disciples of Christ, World Evangelical Alliance, World Alliance of Reformed Churches, World Council of Churches Joint Working Group, Lutheran World Federation, Mennonite World Conference, World Methodist Council, Pentecostals, and the Orthodox Church.

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