|Baptist and Methodist delegates at the first session of the international dialogue between the two groups
|Representatives of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and the World Methodist Council (WMC) met January 30-February 5 at the Beeson Divinity School of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, in the United States. The meeting was the opening session in the first international dialogue between Baptists and Methodists.
The delegations were welcomed by the provost and executive vice president of the university, Bradley Creed, as well as Debra Wallace-Padgett, bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church and Mike McLemore, director of missions for the Birmingham Baptist Association.
The overall theme of the dialogue is faith working through love. Participants discussed presentations on the history, theology, and contemporary global situation of Baptists and Methodists.
The dialogue is co-chaired by Tim Macquiban, superintendent minister of the Cambridge Methodist Circuit and minister of Wesley Methodist Church in Cambridge, England, and Curtis Freeman, research professor and director of the Baptist House of Studies at Duke University Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina, in the US.
Paul Chilcote, dean of Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio in the US, and Fausto Vasconcelos, BWA director of Mission, Evangelism, and Theological Reflection, serve as co-secretaries.
Other Baptist members present were Timothy George, chair of the BWA Commission on Doctrine and Christian Unity and dean of Beeson Divinity School; Deji Isaac Ayegboyin, professor of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan in Nigeria; Valérie Duval-Poujol, professor of biblical exegesis, Catholic Institute in Paris, France; and Stephen Holmes, senior lecturer in theology, University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
The Methodist delegation included Robert Gribben from Melbourne, Australia, chair of the Ecumenical Relations Committee of the WMC; Ulrike Schuler, professor at the Reutlingen School of Theology in Germany; Malcolm Tan, pastor of Barker Road Methodist Church in Singapore; Lauren Matthews, minister, Umngeni Circuit, Natal Coastal District, Methodist Church of Southern Africa; and Christine Gooden-Benguche, secretary, Jamaica District Conference, Methodist Church of the Caribbean and the Americas.
The participants worshipped together each day, drawing on the two traditions, and attended the Sunday service at the Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Birmingham.
They visited Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, the target of a racially motivated bombing in September 1963 that killed four girls in the midst of the American Civil Rights Movement. Participants met with Carolyn McKinstry, author of While the World Watched, based on her experience as a survivor of the 1963 bombing of the church.
They visited the Civil Rights Institute, a museum and research center in Birmingham’s Civil Rights District that depicts the struggles of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s, including the role played by the church.
The meeting in 2015 is planned for Singapore where the dialogue partners will discuss the nature of the church with special attention to justification and sanctification.
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