“Unity is not just being cosy with each other; unity is for the sake of mission!” The Rev Dr Robert Gribben, Chairperson of the ecumenical relations committee of the World Methodist Council (WMC), aptly summed up the goal of the ongoing five-year international dialogue between the Baptist World Alliance and the World Methodist Council. The second meeting was held recently from 5-10 Feb at Covenant Community Methodist Church (CCMC) at Methodist Girls’ School in Singapore.
The Rev Dr Gribben was consultant to the dialogue participants, having previously co-chaired a similar dialogue between Anglicans and Methodists. He noted: “When one Church sits down with another Church and clarifies the differences our history has thrown up, arguments can be resolved and healed, and we can speak to the world with a united voice.”He referred to John 17:21, suggesting that such dialogue would remove barriers to effective evangelism.
The overall theme of the Baptist-Methodist dialogue is ‘ faith working through love’ , and this round of conversations centred on the ‘ Faith confessed and remembered’ . Participants discussed presentations on the nature of and authority in the churches. Issues surrounding the understanding of justification and sanctification within the two theological frameworks were also considered.
The dialogue is co-chaired by the Rev Dr Tim Macquiban, Director of the Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome, and the Rev Dr Curtis Freeman, Research Professor and Director of the Baptist House of Studies at Duke University Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina.
The Rev Malcolm Tan, Pastor-in-Charge of CCMC, was part of the seven-member Methodist delegation from Singapore, Germany, Southern Africa, and the Caribbean and the Americas. He said: “This is a great privilege for the Body of Christ in Singapore – it is the first time the WMC has carried out serious theological dialogue here in Singapore with another world Christian body.” Members from the Baptist delegation hailed from the USA, Nigeria, France, India, and Scotland.
The delegations were welcomed by Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup, of The Methodist Church in Singapore, and the Rev Edwin Lam, Vice-Chairman of the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation. Next year’ s meeting will be hosted by the Baptist Theological Seminary in Elstal, Germany, where the delegations will take up the theme of making disciples.
For the official communique, see worldmethodistcouncil.org/methodists-and-baptists-engage-in-second-international-dialogue