Independence Day, July 4, 2011--a working day at General Synod. Today we began voting on the resolutions before General Synod. There are 13 of them. We voted this morning to affirm the document on baptism that was agreed upon with our ecumenical partners--The Presbyterian Church USA, The Reformed Church in America, other reformed churches, and The Council of Bishops of the Catholic Church in America. The document was overwhelmingly passed by the delegates to the Synod. What that means is that the churches involved agreed to recognize and accept the baptisms of the other. In the United Church of
Christ, we routinely accept the baptisms of all who come to us for church membership but that has not always been true with all of the others involved in this agreement. Some have questioned our method of baptism (sprinkling vs immersion) while others have questioned the formula of baptism used (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). This document affirms that we will use water in baptism (what else?) and we will use the historic affirmation ("I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." This uniformity will unite us in baptism and we will all recognize the baptisms done in our churches.
There was little opposition to this document although some churches use other words besides the historic ones when doing baptisms (often saying Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer). That was the real issue with our ecumenical partners. They wanted to be sure that we all use the same formula in baptism. I think that we have always used the traditional formula in our church and will do so for the future. We see baptism as something that unites Christians throughout the world. Now, we have made a statement that we want to be united in what baptism means with others.
This afternoon we will continue the voting on the other resolutions that we have been considering. I will report to you later concerning them.
Happy Fourth of July to all. Enjoy your day and count your blessings.