European Baptist, Protestant Groups Now 'Mutually Cooperating Bodies'

The European Baptist Federation (EBF) and the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) have signed an agreement committing the two organizations to closer collaboration.

The agreement was signed by EBF General Secretary Tony Peck, and CPCE General Secretary Michael Buenker at a meeting of the EBF near Rome last week.

The two organizations are now "mutually cooperating bodies" and will attend each other's council meetings and general assemblies.

The agreement also binds them to regular joint meetings and consultations to explore points of common interest and concern.

Peck welcomed the agreement as a "clear sign of closer cooperation."

"Both branches of the Reformation have much to give to each other and much to receive from each other," he said.

The agreement commits the organizations to continuing the theological dialogue they have been engaged in since 1999. Much of the dialogue has related to the question of baptism, as Baptists practice only believers' baptism and do not recognize the baptism of infants.

CPCE said there was, at this point in time, "no question of full Baptist membership" in the CPCE. It nonetheless welcomed the latest commitment to cooperation.

 "The agreement has strengthened the common voice of Protestantism in Europe" Buenker said.

There are 51 national Baptist Unions in the European Baptist Federation. The Community of Protestant Churches in Europe has 105 members from the Lutheran, Reformed, United and Methodist Churches.

Formal and informal relations already exist between many CPCE churches and EBF unions in several European countries, including Britain.