Trilateral dialogue report presents gifts and challenges
The final report on the Lutheran-Mennonite-Roman Catholic Trilateral Conversation has been published. The report summarizes five years of theological consultations between the three communions on the understanding and practice of baptism in light of contemporary pastoral and missional challenges facing all three Christian communities.
“The report shows that today these three churches agree that baptism is for discipleship,” says Mennonite delegation member Larry Miller. “It raises the question for each of these churches: are there ways of acknowledging our different practices of baptism that grow the unity for which Jesus prayed?”
Representatives of the Catholic Church (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity), Lutheran World Federation (LWF), and Mennonite World Conference (MWC) met from 2012–2017 to discuss understanding and practice of baptism.
The report titled Baptism and Incorporation into the Body of Christ, the Church summarizes the discussions on three fundamental themes that took place over those five years:
- the relation of baptism to sin and grace,
- the celebration of baptism and the communication of grace and faith in the context of the Christian community,
- the living out of baptism in Christian discipleship.
“We are grateful for the gifts of trust, patience and receptivity that our Catholic and Lutheran partners have given us,” says the report’s section on Mennonite reflections. “We welcome the challenge this dialogue has brought us to more clearly see…[that] working for church unity enlarges our faithfulness to the gospel.”
“These dialogues were convened to promote better mutual understanding between our communions and lead to greater faithfulness to Jesus Christ,” says MWC general secretary César García. “We believe this report will help our member churches to appreciate the harmony we find despite differences between Lutheran, Catholic and Mennonite communions – and to better understand our own convictions and practice of baptism.”
The report follows upon the Lutheran-Mennonite bilateral report Healing Memories which led to a service of reconciliation in 2010 and the Mennonite-Roman Catholic bilateral dialogue that resulted in Called to be Peacemakers.
“This has been an exercise in deepening our own convictions and, at the same time, respecting the convictions of sisters and brothers in Christ in other traditions,” says John D Rempel, a member of the MWC delegation.
The dialogues taught Larry Miller to “remember my baptism! Though they often baptize infants, both Catholics and Lutherans call upon the believer—sometimes every year—to 'remember your baptism' into a life of discipleship…. Could this be an example of the gifts these churches have to give to us?
“This report is not meant to sit on a shelf,” says John D Roth, secretary of the Faith and Life Commission. The Faith and Life Commission will prepare tools for churches to study the “gifts received” and “challenges accepted” by Mennonite World Conference from its participation in the dialogues.
Click here to download and read the report.
- Sister Prof. Dr. Marie-Hélène Robert, NDA (France);
- Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro Quiroga, IMC (co-chair, Colombia);
- Revd. Prof. William Henn, OFM Cap (USA/Italy);
- Revd. Prof. Luis Melo, SM (Canada);
- Revd. Avelino Gonzalez (co-secretary, USA/Vatican).
- Revd. Dr. Kaisamari Hintikka (co-secretary, Finland/Switzerland);
- Prof. Dr. Friederike Nüssel (co-chair, Germany);
- Bishop Emeritus Dr. Musawenkosi Biyela (South Africa);
- Prof. Dr. Theodor Dieter (France).
- Rev Prof. Peter Li (Hong Kong, China)
- Revd Raj Bharath Patta (India/UK)
- Revd. Rebecca Adongo Osiro (Kenya);
- Prof. Dr. Alfred Neufeld (co-chair, Paraguay);
- Prof. Dr. Fernando Enns (Germany/The Netherlands);
- Prof. Dr. John Rempel (Canada);
- Revd. Dr. Larry Miller (co-secretary, France);
- Prof. Dr. Alfred Neufeld (co-chair, Paraguay).
—Mennonite World Conference release with files from the Lutheran World Federation