Washington (BWA)-- The final round in the second series of theological conversations between the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and the Pontifical Council For Promoting Christian Unity of the Roman Catholic Church takes place December 12-18 in Oxford, England.
Discussions began in 2006 and focus on the theme, "The Word of God in the Life of the Church: Scripture, Tradition and Koinonia."
The objectives of these international conversations are to increase mutual understanding, appreciation, and Christian charity toward each other; foster a shared life of discipleship; develop and extend a common witness to Jesus Christ; and to encourage further action together on ethical issues, including justice, peace and the sanctity of life.
An overall aim is to explore the common ground in biblical teaching, apostolic faith and practical Christian living between Baptists and Catholics, as well as an examination of areas that still divide the two Christian traditions.
In 2006 the talks at the Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, in the United States, focused on "The Authority of Christian Scripture and Tradition;" in 2007 at the International House Paulus VI in Rome, Italy, papers were presented on "Baptism and the Lord's Supper/Eucharist as Visible Word of God in the Koinonia of the Church;" the meetings in 2008 at the Baptist House of Studies at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina, in the US, were on the theme "Mary in the Communion of the Church;" and in 2009 the focus in Rome was on "Oversight and Primacy in the Ministry of the Church."
The 2010 gathering, co-hosted by two Permanent Private Halls of the University of Oxford -- Regent's Park College (Baptist) and St. Benet's Hall (Benedictine) -- will focus on the preparation of the report of the conversations.
The first series of talks between the BWA and the Vatican occurred between 1984 and 1988 and was followed by the publication of Summons to Witness to Christ in Today's World in 1990.
Paul Fiddes, professor of Systematic Theology in the University of Oxford, and former chair of the BWA Commission on Doctrine and Interchurch Cooperation, leads the BWA team. The Catholic team is led by Arthur Serratelli, Bishop of Paterson, New Jersey, in the United States.
Permanent members of the Baptist team since 2006 include Fred Degbee from Ghana; Timothy George, Steven Harmon, and Nora Lozano from the United States; Tomás Mackey of Argentina; Tony Peck of the United Kingdom; and Tadeusz Zielinski from Poland. The late Lillian Lim of Singapore, who died in 2009, was also a permanent member of the BWA team. Newer members are Elizabeth Newman and Curtis Freeman from the United States, and Rachael Tan from Taiwan.
Several other Baptists were invited as guests over the years while staff participants were current BWA General Secretary Neville Callam, former General Secretary Denton Lotz, who retired in 2007, and Fausto Vasconcelos, BWA Director of Mission, Evangelism and Theological Reflection. Callam was a permanent member of the BWA team before he became BWA general secretary in 2007.