The general secretary of the National Council of Churches today celebrated an historic agreement among the Roman Catholic Church and four historic Protestant reformed churches to recognize the validity of one another’s baptism.
The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, staff head of the nation’s leading ecumenical body, said, “these five churches have taken a significant step on this road to unity.”
The United Church of Christ was the most recent church to adopt the Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Baptism during its synod earlier this month in Tampa, Fla.
The agreement was approved by the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. in 2008, the United States Council of Catholic Bishops in November of last year, and the Reformed Church of America and the Christian Reformed Church at their denominational meetings last month.
“The National Council of Churches is an expression of the ecumenical desire of the churches to be one,” Kinnamon said. “It exists to manifest the visible unity of the Church, to the degree that we are already united in our common confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and to foster greater unity until such time that the churches are fully united around a common Eucharistic table.”
Kinnamon said, “Knowing that your churches have proven faithful in responding to the Lord’s own prayer that his followers be one (John 17:21), all of the churches in the NCC join you in celebrating this important milestone.”
The Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, the UCC’s Minister of Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, said the next step with these partners will be conversations around the Eucharist.
“We are looking forward to our continued ecumenical engagement with our Formula of Agreement partners as well as the Roman Catholic Church,” she said.