July 27, 2018
The First Session of the Seventh Phase of the International Catholic - Pentecostal Dialogue took place in Springfield, MO, USA, from 12 to 18 July 2018 between the Catholic Church and some Classical Pentecostal churches and leaders.
Begun in 1972, the goal of this Dialogue is to promote mutual respect and understanding in matters of faith and practice. Genuine exchange and frank discussion concerning the positions and practices of the two traditions have been guiding principles of these conversations, which include daily prayer services led alternately by Catholics and Pentecostals.
The general topic for this seventh phase is: “lex orandi, lex credendi” (“Praying, Believing”). The plan of discussions for the seventh phase is as follows: A General Introduction to the topic according to each tradition (2018); Kerygma/Proclamation and the Christian Life (2019); Prayer/Worship and Christian Life (2020); Sacramentality and Christian Living (2021), and Preparation of the Final Report (2022).
The Pentecostal Co-Chair of the Dialogue is the Rev. Cecil M. Robeck, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA, USA. Msgr. Juan Usma-Gómez, Bureau Chief of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Catholic Co-Secretary, served as Acting Catholic Co-Chair for this first meeting.
During this first session, a Catholic paper entitled, “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi: Praying, Believing, A Way of Living,” was written and presented by Father James Puglisi, SA. Father Puglisi is the Director of Centro Pro Unione; Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas/Pontifical University of St. Anselm, Rome, Italy. The Pentecostal paper entitled, “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi: Pentecostal Perspectives,” was written and presented by Bishop Christopher A. Stephenson. Bishop Stephenson is Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at Lee University, in Cleveland, TN.
“The Catholic and Pentecostal participants enjoyed rich and meaningful fellowship as they worshipped together, engaged in heartfelt dialogue, and shared meals,” said Rev. David Cole, Pentecostal Co-Secretary, at the end of the meeting. “They were blessed by warm local Springfield hospitality and benefitted greatly from the privilege of learning more about some of the significant heritage and current realities of the global Pentecostal movement.”
Members of the International Dialogue met local Pentecostal and Catholic leaders as well as members of the local Pentecostal-Catholic Dialogue. The participants were also welcomed at the Sunday Holy Mass at St. Agnes Cathedral and at the Sunday worship service at Central Assembly of God, both in Springfield. They wish to acknowledge with gratitude the Rev. Jim Bradford, pastor of Central Assembly of God; Dr. Carol Taylor, President of Evangel University; as well as The Most Rev. Edward M. Rice, Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau; and the Most Rev. John Leibrecht, Bishop emeritus, for their gracious support for this meeting. Two Co-Chairs of the local dialogue were instrumental in preparations for the event: Rev. Martin Mittelstadt, Professor of New Testament at Evangel University, and Nicholas Lund-Molfese, Diocesan Ecumenical Officer for the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.
“This meeting has been a very promising beginning for the new phase of this dialogue, for the rich and positive exchange of views as well as for the friendly atmosphere and mutual respect, trust, and honesty, said Prof. Teresa Francesca Rossi, a member of the Catholic team. “The Springfield setting has been very welcoming; in fact, the vitality of the worshipping community both at Central Assembly and at St. Agnes Cathedral, as well as the fine academic work carried on at Evangel University, were an inspiring setting for our reflection about ‘lex orandi, lex credendi.’”