General Assembly 20 – 26 May 2010:
Kirk body encourages joint reaffirmation of baptismal vows with Roman Catholic Church
A CHURCH of Scotland body is urging congregations to celebrate their common baptism with Roman Catholics for the first time by using a special joint liturgy for the reaffirmation of baptismal vows.
The groundbreaking call, seen as a monumental step in inter-church links, is made in the report of the Kirk’s Ecumenical Relations Committee to the General Assembly.
The liturgy was devised by the Joint Commission on Doctrine, made up of officials from both churches.
Following an extensive study period which looked at our common understanding of baptism, this new service is now being recommended by the Ecumenical Relations Committee for use at major Christian festivals, such as Easter and Pentecost. This year Pentecost falls on the Sunday of General Assembly week (23 May).
Theologically, both churches believe baptism involves conversion, pardoning and cleansing and marks the beginning of a new life in Christ, characterised by growth.
The report acknowledges that there are “continuing divisions” between Christians in the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church, largely stemming from the understanding of the nature of the Church. But it does say that a “real though imperfect communion” exists between Reformed and Roman Catholic believers.
Biblically, greater ecumenism is inspired and encouraged by John 17:21, where believers are called in the light of the High Priestly Prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ to have Oneness and unity of the Church as our goal.