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Consultation on Believers’ Baptism

Report on the Consultation on Believers’ Baptism Kingston, Jamaica January 2015

Press Release: Believers’ Baptism Consultation

Observations on the Believers’ Baptism Consultation by Tony Richie

4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6 (NRSV)

A Consultation on Believers’ Baptism[1] was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Kingston Jamaica from January 8 through 10, 2015. It was convened specifically to consider ways in which the thinking among those traditions that have normally practiced only believers’ baptism might have changed in the thirty years since the publication of the Faith and Order Convergence Text, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry in 1982. Through the papers presented by each of the participating communions along with reflections from Faith and Order, the participants sought to discern the places of convergence in their understanding of the mode, meaning and practice of baptism as well as to name the hindrances to the general acceptance of those practices that do not accord with their own understanding. The participants were grateful for the hospitality shown by the Jamaican churches, and to the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands for their explanation of how they live with two practices of baptism within one church.

Recognizing the historic nature of the event as the first conversation of its kind, the consultation was filled with a spirit of excitement as relationships were deepened and new learnings discovered. Common affirmations were celebrated and differences were met with an attitude of respect and wonderment. At the conclusion of the consultation, a new hope emerged for continued conversations and meaningful ecumenical advance.

  • The participants gave thanks for Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry in its call for churches to recognize in BEM and one another the “faith of the church through the ages;” and also the more recent document One Baptism: Towards Mutual Recognition (2011).
  • They recognized that relatively little time has been spent on mutual reflection by traditions which do not practice infant baptism and gave thanks for this opportunity for open and honest reflections on the meaning, practice and shared understandings of baptism.
  • They give thanks to God for the ongoing call to oneness as made manifest through the initiative of the Conference of Secretaries of Christian World Communions, the general support of the participating communions and the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches.
  • They further give thanks for the presenters from the Baptist World Alliance, the Church of the Brethren, the Disciples of Christ, the Mennonite World Conference, the Pentecostal movement and the Churches of Christ/Christian Churches, while regretting the absence of the African Instituted Churches and their unique ecclesiological and cultural perspective.
  • They give thanks for the spirit of listening and the mutual respect demonstrated by the participants and guests in the consultation.
  • They give thanks to God for continuing to reveal God’s mission and purpose through these conversations.
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Category: Ministry, Winter 2015

About the Author: Tony Richie, D.Min, Ph.D., is missionary teacher at SEMISUD (Quito, Ecuador) and adjunct professor at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Cleveland, TN). Dr. Richie is an Ordained Bishop in the Church of God, and Senior Pastor at New Harvest in Knoxville, TN. He has served the Society for Pentecostal Studies as Ecumenical Studies Interest Group Leader and is currently Liaison to the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches (USA), and represents Pentecostals with Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation of the World Council of Churches and the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. He is the author of Speaking by the Spirit: A Pentecostal Model for Interreligious Dialogue (Emeth Press, 2011) and Toward a Pentecostal Theology of Religions: Encountering Cornelius Today (CPT Press, 2013) as well as several journal articles and books chapters on Pentecostal theology and experience.

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