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Beeson hosts first Baptist-Methodist dialogue on differences, commonalities comment (0)

February 27, 2014

They share a common history — impacted by frontier revivals, fervent prayer, belief in the Bible and an emphasis on missions — but Methodists and Baptists do have their differences. 

Things like baptism, church governance and perseverance of the saints tend to divide the two groups. 

The differences do not have to prevent the groups from working together for the Kingdom though, and Alabama Baptists are among a group attempting to develop relations. 

The first international dialogue of the Baptist-Methodist Communique was held at Beeson Divinity School of Samford University in Birmingham, Jan. 30 through Feb. 5.

With the theme of faith working through love, members of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and the World Methodist Council discussed the history, theology and contemporary global situation of both denominations.

Timothy George, Beeson’s founding dean, said the school was honored to be the host of the first dialogue.

It was an “excellent beginning to what will be a multiyear communication,” George said. 

George serves as the chair of the Commission on Doctrine and Christian Unity of BWA and said Beeson previously hosted dialogues similar to this one between Catholics and Baptists and Pentecostals and Baptists.

In regards to some of the differences among Methodists and Baptists, George said, “If we dig deeply into these … there are fractures at the core. We want to overcome these differences if we can without compromising who we are.” 

George said he hopes the dialogues help Christians learn how to share their faith better and do evangelism better. 

A time of worship was held each day and participants attended Sunday services at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, Birmingham. 

The group also visited Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Birmingham, and the Civil Rights Institute.

Birmingham Baptist Association Executive Director Mike McLemore, Samford’s Provost and Executive Vice President J. Bradley Creed and the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett welcomed delegates at the opening round of conversations.

Tim Macquiban, superintendent minister of the Cambridge Methodist Circuit and minister of Wesley Methodist Church, Cambridge, England, and Curtis Freeman, research professor and director of the Baptist House of Studies at Duke University Divinity School in Durham, N.C., co-chaired the dialogue. 

The dialogue will continue for four or five more years, George said, and will include the same 17 participants. 

The 2015 meeting is scheduled to meet in Singapore with a theme based on the nature of the church, with special attention to justification and sanctification.


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