FALLS CHURCH, Va. (ABP) – Teams from the Baptist World Alliance and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople held exploratory talks Oct. 30-Nov. 2 that could lead to formal dialogue between Baptist and Orthodox Christians internationally.
BWA General Secretary Neville Callam, who led the Baptist delegation, described aims of the meeting held on the island of Crete as responding to the Lord's prayer in John 17:21 for his disciples “that they may all be one … that the world may believe.”
“Facing this challenge today, we believe that we should continue to explore our common ground in biblical teaching, apostolic faith and tradition as well as practical Christian witness, together with our remaining differences," Callam said.
Joining Callam in the BWA delegation were Steven Harmon, adjunct professor of Christian theology at Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity in Boiling Springs, N.C., and Paul Fiddes, professor of systematic theology at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.
Representing Orthodox Christians were Gennadios of Sassima of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and professor of Orthodox theology and canon law; George Tsetsis, a former permanent representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the World Council of Churches; and Konstantinos Kenanidis, general director of the Orthodox Academy of Crete.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate is ranked "first among equals" in the Eastern Orthodox communion and is widely regarded as the representative and spiritual leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians.
According to a BWA press release, the two teams reviewed earlier discussions between the BWA and the Orthodox Church and proposed that any international dialogue should be aimed, among other things, at increasing mutual understanding and knowledge of each other; the exploring of a common witness to the world; and the encouragement of common action on ethical and moral issues.
A decision on whether formal dialogue will take place is expected by March 2012.
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.