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Round VIII of the dialogue between Catholic and Reformed communions is well underway after January's meeting in Austin, TX. The new topic: Ecclesiology.
Ecclesiology studies the nature and meaning of the church. In the context of history, scripture, and tradition, it explores issues such as authority, governance, and the mission of God's church, especially examining ministry as it relates to and flows out of sacramental theology.
The theme for the current round of Catholic-Reformed dialogue takes up ecclesiological issues that were identified by participants on all sides of the dialogue during Round VII as clear points of both convergence and divergence. Dialogue members feel that a return to these questions is timely, building on the foundation of unity that was established by the last round's Baptism Agreement.
The USCCB launched an official dialogue with four denominations of the Reformed family of churches in 1965: the United Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Presbyterian Church (U.S.), the Reformed Church in America, and the United Church of Christ. At points, other members of the Reformed family, such as the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Hungarian Reformed Church, have joined in the process. Current partners include the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA), the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), the Reformed Church in America (RCA), and the United Church of Christ (UCC).
Over its lifetime this consultation has produced eight important publications, including documents on Baptism, These Living Waters: Common Agreement on the Mutual Recognition of Baptism, and on the Eucharist, This Bread of Life: Report of the U.S. Roman Catholic-Reformed Dialogue on the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper.
The dialogue currently meets twice a year. The current 8th Round addresses the nature of the Church and is co-chaired by Rev. Cynthia Campbell, Ph.D (PCUSA), senior pastor of Highland Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and Most Reverend Tod Brown, Bishop Emeritus of Orange. Dr. Anthony Cirelli currently staffs this dialogue for SEIA.
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