The Anglican Communion and the Baptist World Alliance will publish an account of five years of innovative dialogue later this month.
Conversations Around the World offers its readers the chance to share in a "deeply serious, yet joyous, enterprise". The book is an account of conversations between Anglicans and Baptists across the world, conversations that covered the entire spectrum of Christian faith, comparing and contrasting how the two traditions approach their Christian discipleship. It describes the many ways in which the two denominations share a common mission, a common witness to Christ.
Conversations Around the World is the fruit of five years of unique and hopeful ecumenical process. In order to ensure the inclusion of Christian voices from every continent, dialogue participants were appointed from within each of the six regions where the meetings were held. Only a small 'Continuation Committee' -- under the chairmanship of Paul Fiddes (Baptist, Lecturer in Divinity, University of Oxford) and Bruce Matthews (Anglican, Professor of Comparative Religion, Wolfville University, Nova Scotia) --attended all of the meetings. In this way, a variety of cultural contexts were taken into account. Each regional group was aware of the discussions of previous groups, but was free to contribute its own concerns and insights regarding the issues under consideration. At the conclusion of the series of discussions, all participants received a draft final report for comment, and for confirmation that the many regional voices had been properly considered.
This new approach to ecumenical dialogue was enriching and inspiring. While differences remain, the two traditions are "surprisingly close" on many fundamental theological issues and have a great potential for practical collaboration. Remarkably, within the context of these discussions, even divergences between the traditions were not seen as hopeless barriers of division, but as encouraging signs of Christian devotion and faithfulness.
"They discovered that Anglicans and Baptists have a great deal in common, and much to celebrate", said Canon Gregory Cameron, Director of Ecumenical Affairs at the Anglican Communion Office in London, UK. "In both traditions we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, and this fact calls us into closer relationship. The work represented by this book gives an example of how Christians of different denominations can seek to understand each other and work more closely together."
The book will be launched at a Reception on Friday, 24th June, during the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Nottingham, the United Kingdom. Media and representatives of the two traditions are asked to contact Robert Bergner at firstname.lastname@example.org if they would like to be present.