Thursday, April 15, 2010

Community Of Christ Delegates Vote To Allow People Baptized In Other Christian Denominations To Become Church Members Without Being Rebaptized

A major doctrinal change has been approved at the Community Of Christ's 2010 World Conference. The Blue Springs Examiner reports that an overwhelming majority of the 2,800 delegates present during the April 14th, 2010 afternoon legislative session voted to allow people baptized in other Christian denominations to become members of the church without being rebaptized. Previous baptism by water, whether it is full immersion, sprinkling or other methods, would be accepted, although the Community Of Christ continues to exclusively baptize by full immersion, following the personal example set by Jesus Christ during His ministry. Read the Community of Christ's own report HERE.

The new passage of scripture was included as President Stephen M. Veazey’s Counsel to the Church that was presented on January 15th, 2010 during a worship service at Community of Christ Temple. The scripture also emphasizes the power of the sacrament of Communion. The Community of Christ practices open Communion.

A church official further explained the decision. “Obviously, it is historic, but I also think it goes beyond history,” said Linda Booth, Community of Christ’s director of communications and a member of the Council of Twelve Apostles, the lead missionary quorum of the Community of Christ. “I believe God is moving us to be a people who live our baptismal covenant and honor and respect the other baptismal covenant that others have made. I believe God is pressing us to welcome them as brothers and sisters in Christ.” This change will be codified as Section 164 of their Doctrine and Covenants.

Here's a photo postcard of the Conference so far, embedded below:

Among the potentially contentious issues remaining to be debated are whether gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender individuals should be considered for ordination. Also on the table is whether ordained church members should be allowed to officiate at same-sex marriages where they are legal. I doubt that both these changes in their fulness would be adopted; it would be too much for most church members to swallow. But I wouldn't be surprised if some degree of liberalization emerged from the Conference on these issues.

John Hamer has done some blogging of the Conference on By Common Consent. Saints Herald also blogs on the Conference and provides links to others HERE.


jeswitts said...

The Counsel just approved by the conference allows justice and cultural issues (like same sex marriage and ordination and many other issues)to be considered at national and field conferences. So, the Conference did approve the probability of same sex marriage/ordination in the countries if the People are ready for it. It also provides for completely avoiding the subject in countries where the subject is taboo and would put the Saints in danger.

Rich Brown said...

jeswitts is absolutely right with this clarifying statement regarding what is now Doctrine and Covenants Section 164 for Community of Christ. Of course, there's still a whole lot of "ifs," "whens," "buts," and "howevers" yet to be worked out. That's going to take a while, and it will happen as and when the First Presidency in consultation with the Council of Twelve Apostles and others on the World Church Leadership Council determine it.

Anonymous said...

By Thursday or Friday, all of the legislative initiatives for and against gay rights will have been ruled out of order in light of Section 164's adoption except for "G-28", the esoteric name for the Presidency's proposal to implement national and field conferences by amending church bylaws. This will serve as the "implementing authority" for the culturally-specific consideration of moral issues implied by Section 164.

The outline of implementing policy is already beginning to appear, as the OP notes. But therebaptism will take until Sept 2011 to implement, so nothing more on gay rights is going to happen even in the Western churches until 2012 or 2014 at the earliest. (No logistical capacity to hold a national conference that fast even if the leadership wanted to move immediately -- which it doesn't.

So, now we watch to see how the very conservatives and the very liberal in North America react.


Jack Mormon said...

Thanks for the comments providing additional clarification about the proceedings of this Conference. As you can see, I continue to have much to learn about how the C of C operates. One of my purposes in this post is actually to rebut the negative biases and stereotypes sometimes voiced about the C of C within the LDS community and elsewhere.