Members of the Baptist World Alliance and the World Methodist Council met February 3 to 10 at the Elstal Theological Seminary near Berlin. The meeting was the third round of conversations of the international dialogue between Baptists and Methodists. The overall theme of the dialogue is faith working through love. The theme of the conversations this time centered on “Making Disciples: Baptism and Christian Initiation.” Participants discussed two Bible studies by distinguished New Testament scholars on Matthew 28 led by Walter Klaiber, Methodist Bishop Emeritus, and Romans 6 by Carsten Claussen, of the Baptist School of Theology at Elstal. The dialogue reflected on historical, theological, liturgical, and ecumenical perspectives on baptism and the process of Christian initiation, as well as receiving reports on baptismal practice among Methodists and Baptists in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Americas, and the Caribbean.
The dialogue members participated in Sunday worship at the Schöneberg Baptist Church in Berlin where they witnessed the baptism of 11 new Christians. They were joined for lunch and conversation with Rosemarie Wenner, Bishop of the United Methodist Church in Germany, Michael Noss, President of the German Baptist Union, and Christoph Stiba, General Secretary of the German Baptist Union, and Michael Kisskalt, rector of Elstal School of Theology. They also visited the Christuskirche (Methodist) where they were met by superintendent Gabriel Straka. Earlier in the week the group traveled to Wittenberg, where preparations for the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation are in place. In Wittenberg they visited the Reformation museum and the Castle Church where Luther posted his 95 theses.
The next session of conversations will take up the theme of The Call to Discipleship and will be held in Kingston, Jamaica.
The BWA delegation comprises dialogue Co-chair Curtis Freeman, research professor of theology and director of the Baptist House of Studies at Duke University Divinity School in the United States; Deji Isaac Ayegboyin, professor of Church History and African Christianity and at the Department of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan in Nigeria; Valérie Duval-Poujol, professor of Biblical Exegesis at the Catholic Institute of Paris, supervisor of the revision of the French Bible Francais Courant for the French Bible society. Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University in the US; Stephen Holmes, senior lecturer in theology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland; R. L. Hnuni, principal of Calcutta Bible Seminary in Kolkata, India, and Fausto Vasconcelos, BWA director of Mission, Evangelism and Theological Reflection, who serves as co-secretary. Professor Uwe Swarat of the Elstal faculty also presented a paper on Baptist doctrine as reflected in worldwide theological conversations.
Methodist representatives are dialogue Co-chair Tim Macquiban, Director of the Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome and Pastor of the Ponte Sant`Angelo Methodist Church Rome; co-secretary Paul W. Chilcote, academic dean and professor of historical theology and Wesleyan Studies at Ashland Theological Seminary in the US; Christine Gooden Benguche, secretary, Jamaica District Conference, superintendent of the Western St Andrew Circuit, in MCCA (Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas); Lauren Claire Matthew, Methodist minister in the Durban South Circuit of the Methodist Church in Southern Africa, and president of the Youth and Young Adult Committee of the WMC; Ulrike Schuler, professor for Church History, Methodism, and Ecumenism at the Reutlingen School of Theology in Germany; and Malcolm Tan, pastor, Covenant Community Methodist Church in Singapore, and Training Consultant, Methodist Missions Society Singapore.