This past summer, on June 6 and 13, the ISGA collaborated with Mennonite World Conference on a series of webinars titled “Believe and Be Baptized: Global Conversations on Baptism.” In the first of the webinars, John D. Roth engaged participants from nearly 40 countries on the theological and historical roots of baptism in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition, noting also some differences in beliefs and practices that characterize the global church today. In the following session, Thomas Yoder Neufeld, chair of the MWC Faith and Life Commission focused especially on a recent ecumenical dialogue that brought Catholics, Lutherans, and Mennonites into a sustained conversation on baptism for the first time in nearly 500 years. The webinars served as the MWC Renewal event for 2021, an annual global initiative that Roth has coordinated for the past five years. Recordings of the webinars—including versions with Spanish and French subtitles—will soon be available at the MWC website.
The webinars reflect an on-going commitment by MWC to promote broad engagement with the report of a trilateral dialogue on baptism (“Baptism and Incorporation into the Body of Christ, the Church”) in which representatives from the Mennonite, Catholic, and Lutheran traditions engaged in a six-year conversation on baptism. The final report, published in The Mennonite Quarterly Review (January 2020), noted several significant convergences among the three groups, particularly in the close link between baptism and Christian discipleship.
To continue this conversation on baptism, the ISGA—supported by a grant from the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship—is creating a study guide that will help to make the report of the trilateral dialogue more accessible. Roth is also partnering with various regional MC USA conferences to organize a series of workshops to invite insights and responses from Mennonite pastors. The first of these workshops are scheduled for Columbus, OH (Nov. 6) and Lancaster, PA (Nov. 13), with more to follow in the spring of 2022. The study guide—which will be translated into Spanish and French—should be available to churches by the end of the year.