In 1908 the Franciscans Friars of the Atonement in Graymoor, New York, proposed the week spanning the Confession of Peter (January 18) and the Conversion of Paul (January 25) be designated the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity,” and a century later many denominations commemorate this week by praying for greater understanding of our unity in Christ, the head of the Christ. The choice of St. Peter (recognized as the first bishop of Rome by Roman Catholics) and St. Paul (beloved by Protestants for his clear articulation of the Gospel message of salvation by grace through faith) acknowledges the major divide of western Christians since the Reformation. Sixty years ago, the Second Vatican Council issued the Decree on Ecumenism, which declared that “it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ’s body” (Chapter 1, par. 3), those denominations that practice “one baptism for the forgiveness of sins” do not rebaptize those who seek affiliation with a different denomination.
In our North American context, where polls on religious affiliation show a decline in those professing to be Christian, this “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” is an appropriate time to highlight some ecumenical resources on the adult catechumenate. We commend to our readers, especially those seeking resources on the adult catechumenate, the website of Journey to Baptismal Living (see below for the link). Here’s a sampling of some helpful JBL resources:
Bibliography (short and packed with good resources): https://journeytobaptism.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2023/05/JBL-Bibliography.pdf
“Recovery of the Rites” (an historical overview of 20th-century revival of the adult catechumenate): https://journeytobaptism.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2023/05/Articles_Recovery-of-the-Rites.pdf
“A Lower-Church Case for the Catechumenate” (author is Presbyterian): https://journeytobaptism.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/17/2023/05/Articles_A-Lower-Church-Case-for-the-Catechumenate.pdf
Next week we’ll highlight some other resources and articles from the JBL website. Not everything on this site will be of value to subscribers of “Forming Lutherans,” but we trust that you all are discerning readers who can separate the gold from the dross and use the gold to fashion a catechumenal process appropriate for your congregation and its missional context.
Journey to Baptismal Living: https://journeytobaptism.org/
Photo: Baptistry room in “The Petra Church,” Byzantine church in Petra, Jordan. Photo by Rhoda Schuler (March 2023)