After some years of negotiation, and a planning meeting in London, England, at the time of the recent World Methodist Council, the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) has agreed to form an international dialogue with Methodists. The following statement of the aims was agreed:
Having been sent by our Lord Jesus Christ to continue the mission of God in the world (Jn 20:21), as Baptist and Methodist Christians we desire the unity for which our Savior prayed so that the world may believe (Jn 17:21), and in believing find its life (Jn 3:16-17). In asking how we might manifest this oneness, we are drawn to the words of the apostle Paul that “the only thing that counts is faith working through love” (Gal 5:6). As we enter into conversations toward this end, we seek:
1. Greater understanding of and appreciation for one another,
2. Mutual exchange of gifts for the enrichment and renewal of our churches,
3. Increased participation in a common witness and mission in the world,
4. Fuller fellowship and cooperation by identifying and overcoming barriers.
We believe that we can move towards the fulfillment of these aims by focusing on the theme: “Faith Active in Love.” Our conversations will explore the activity of faith in love as it is sung and preached, confessed and remembered, and lived and shared.
The General Secretary of the BWA, the Rev. Neville Callam, has announced the Baptist members of the team. The Co-Chair is the Rev. Dr Curtis Freeman, Research Professor of Theology and Baptist Studies at Duke Divinity School, Durham, NC, USA, and the Co-Secretary, Rev. Dr. Fausto A. Vasconcelos, Director, BWA Division on Mission, Evangelism & Theological Reflection. The other members are: Rev. Dr. Deji Isaac Ayegboyin, Professor and Head, Department of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan. Nigeria; Dr. Valérie Duval-Poujol, Professor of Biblical Exegesis, Catholic Institute, Paris, France, Assistant Director, School for Bible and Orientalism, and a guest teacher in Protestant theological institutions in France; Rev. Dr. Timothy George, Chair, BWA Commission on Doctrine & Christian Unity, Dean and Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, Birmingham, AL, USA, who will host the first meeting; and Rev. Dr. Stephen Holmes, Senior Lecturer in Theology, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland.
After wide consultation, Bishop Ivan Abrahams, WMC General Secretary, and the Chair of its Standing Committee on Ecumenical Relationships, Professor Robert Gribben, have appointed the Rev. Dr Timothy Macquiban, Superintendent Minister of Wesley Church, Cambridge, UK as Methodist Co-Chair, and the Rev. Dr Paul Chilcote, Academic Dean and Professor of Historical Theology & Wesleyan Studies, Ashland Theological Seminary, Ashland OH, USA as Co-Secretary. Accompanying them will be Dr Ulrike Schuler, Professor of Church History, Methodist and Ecumenical Studies, Theological Seminary, Reutlingen, Germany; the Rev. Malcolm Tan, Pastor of Barker Road Methodist Church in Singapore; the Rev. Lauren Matthews, Minister, Umngeni Circuit, Natal Coastal District, Methodist Church of Southern Africa (Ms Matthews is also a Young Adult member of the WMC Steering Committee); and the Rev. Christine Gooden-Benguche, Secretary, Jamaica District Conference, Methodist Church of the Caribbean and The Americas.
The initial meeting in Birmingham Alabama begins on 30th January, 2014. Dr Gribben will attend the first meeting as a Consultant. The WMC has one other dialogue at present, the long-running International Commission for Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Methodist Council. The Anglican-Methodist dialogue will publish its final report in 2014.