"Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry": Report of the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches
1. Welcomes the text "Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry" (BEM) as a contribution of great significance in the search for the visible unity of the Church and notes that the ecumenical climate has already been much improved by it in many places. It recognizes this text to be one part of a wider agenda in which the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches is engaged. It values the consonance between BEM and the bilateral and other multilateral dialogues in which Anglicans are engaged and the fact that BEM enables us to see a convergence towards substantial agreement in faith and practice between many Communions.
2. Endorses the view of the provincial responses that Anglicans can recognize to a large extent in the text of "Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry" 'the faith of the Church through the ages.' 3. Considers that Anglicans can draw important consequences from "Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry" for their relations with other Churches, particularly with those Churches which also recognize the text as an expression of the apostolic faith.
4. Recommends that provinces take guidance from the text for their worship, educational, ethical and spiritual life and witness.
5. Encourages the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches to pursue its work to develop the convergences of "Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry" and the study on "Towards Common Expression of the Apostolic Faith Today" within the context of the study on "Unity and Renewal." Anglicans urge the Faith and Order Commission to resume its work on structures of authority and decision-making in order that the work of the bilateral dialogues may be seen in a broader context.
6. Recommends that formal response be sought from those provinces that have not yet replied to the World Council of Churches; asks the Anglican Consultative Council to find ways of promoting a continuing reception of the BEM text in all provinces of the Anglican Communion; and hopes that sufficient finances and personal resources will be set aside for this to be carried out effectively.
Baptism and Christian union World Council of Churches. Commission on Faith and Order The Four BEM Questions The Faith and Order Commission of the WCC asked the Churches to prepare an official response to BEM at the highest appropriate level of authority. Four questions were to be answered:
1. the extent to which your Church can recognize in this text the faith of the Church through the ages.
In the light of the provincial responses it is clear that Anglicans can recognise to an impressive degree the faith of the Church through the ages.
BEM is found to be a positive document, balanced and comprehensive, in the subjects it treats. In each of the three areas of baptism, eucharist and ministry we look forward to an even greater development of the convergence.
In the area of baptism more work needs to be done on the inter-relationship of the various parts of the initiation process and the strengthening of the theme of covenant in relation to baptism. In the area of eucharist we should like to ensure that the anamnesis of the mighty acts of God in Christ remains focused upon his saving death and resurrection, and that while at every eucharist the true president is Christ, an ordained priest ought to preside. In the area of ministry we look for a fuller treatment of the ministries of all the baptized and clarification of the nature of priesthood and the respective roles of bishops, presbyters and deacons. In particular we think it important to develop work on the personal, collegial and communal forms of ministry exercised at every point in the Church's corporate life. It would be helpful to Anglicans if work on the ordination of women to the priesthood was developed in the context of the multilateral dialogue.
The responses from the provinces detect three underlying issues of a more general nature that need continuing exploration: the relation between Scripture, Tradition and traditions; the nature of the sacraments, their efficacy and their relation to the word; the ecclesiology implicit in the text of BEM.
2. the consequences your Church can draw from this text for its relations and dialogues with other Churches, particularly with those Churches who also recognize the text as an expression of the apostolic faith.
We should like to develop the ecumenical consequences of the fact that our common baptism is a basic bond of unity. The responses of the provinces to BEM encourage us to take up specific matters with particular partners in dialogue: the theology and practice of baptism with those who practice only "believers" baptism; the question of eucharistic hospitality with Churches with whom we have no eucharistic fellowship; the mutual recognition of ministries, and particularly the role of the episcopate as a sign of unity and continuity.
3. the guidance your Church can take from this text for its worship, educational, ethical, and spiritual life and witness.
We recognize that BEM brings to expression the fruits of recent liturgical revision in our Communion and in others. The text challenges Anglicans to reform their own lives and practice in the areas of: preparation for baptism, and the continuing nurture of the baptized; the eucharist as the centre from which Christians go out to work as reconcilers in a broken world; the theology and practice of the diaconate, the complementarity of women and men in ministry, and the exercise of episcopacy.
4. the suggestions your Church can make for the ongoing work of Faith and Order as it relates the material of this text on "Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry" to its long-range research project, "Towards the Common Expression of the Apostolic Faith Today."
We look forward to the developing study on "Towards the Common Expression of the Apostolic Faith Today." In light of the work of the bilateral dialogues on authority, Anglicans encourage the Faith and Order Commission to resume as soon as possible the earlier study "How does the Church Teach Authoritatively Today?" The study on the 'Unity of the Church and the Renewal of Human Community' will help to locate the search for the visible unity of the Church in the proper context of God's mission to the world for the sake of the Kingdom.
(See further paras 6-64 of the Report on "Ecumenical Relations.")