Faith and Order Consultation
Faverges, France, January 17-24, 1997

Introduction to the text "Becoming a Christian: The Ecumenical Implications of Our Common Baptism"

This text is the report from the second meeting in Faith and Order's study programme on the role of worship in the search for Christian unity. The study also explores areas of continuing difference among the churches - for example the fact that, in some cases, members of one church cannot receive the Eucharist (the Lord's Supper) in another church or that, more rarely, baptisms performs in some churches are not recognized in others.

This meeting, held in January 1997 in Faverges, France, brought together a diverse group of liturgists, theologians, church musicians and local pastors to reflect on issues of baptism in relation to the Christian unity. It explored how the common pattern (ordo) of the baptismal service can foster a sense of unity among Christians; how baptismal services may be responsibly inculturated (adapted locally) in various cultures around the world; and how baptism determines the nature and practice of Christian ethics. The Report and papers from the consultation will be published by the World Council of Churches in book form in mid-1999.

The first meeting in this study programme was held at Ditchingham (near Norwich), England, in August, 1994. It (1) explored the common ordo or pattern of much Christian worship as a basis for the churches' increasing communion; (2) explored problems and possibilities in the inculturation (local adaptation) of worship in various cultures around the world; (3) offered many examples from local situations of how common worship is already helping Christians to experience - and express - more of the unity which is theirs in Christ; and (4) made specific proposals for future Faith and Order work in this area. For a full publication of this consultation see So We Believe, So We Pray: Towards Koinonia in Worship, ed. By Thomas F. Best and Dagmar Heller, Faith and Order Paper No. 171, Geneva, WCC Publications.

Faith and Order staff and commissioners have also helped organize a meeting, starting from the churches' experience in using the "Lima Liturgy", on eucharistic worship in ecumenical contexts. This has been published as Eucharistic Worship in Ecumenical Contexts: The Lima Liturgy - and Beyond, ed. By Thomas F. Best and Dagmar Heller, Geneva, WCC Publications, 1998.

The status of this text

This Letter and Report are not "official statements" of the World Council of Churches, the Faith and Order Commission, or any of their member churches. It is the record of a gathering of experts - theologians, liturgists, worship leaders, church musicians, local pastors - coming from a wide variety of Christian traditions, churches, and regions of the world. The purpose of the meeting, and of these texts, was to explore issues related to worship and Christian unity; to provide "space" for the churches to share their positions, to record broad agreement where it exists and to clarify points of continuing disagreement; and to stimulate further discussion of these issues within and among the churches.