MELBOURNE, KENTUCKY – Bishop Michael Clay of the Diocese of Raleigh and Pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in Raleigh was part of the first session of the sixth phase of the International Commission for Dialogue between the Disciples of Christ and the Catholic Church . Known as the Commission, the meeting took place June 24-29, 2022 in Kentucky.
The Commission is made up of seven Catholics appointed by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity and seven disciples appointed by their Ecumenical Advisory Council in Indianapolis, USA. This phase of dialogue ends in 2027. The goal of the dialogue, begun in 1977, is full visible unity between Catholics and followers of Christ.
For the sixth phase, “The Ministry of the Holy Spirit” based on 2 Corinthians 3 was chosen as a general topic to explore the work of the Holy Spirit, particularly in the life and ministry of the Church.
The meeting included a lectio divina on Acts 2 to deepen participants’ understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit. This was led by Bishop David L. Ricken, Bishop of Green Bay, USA and was followed by an overview of 45 years of dialogue and its progress by Reverend Dr. Robert Welsh of Indianapolis, IN, States States, a member of the dialogue since its inception. A Bible study on 2 Corinthians 3 was led by Dr. Ian Boxall of the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and two scholarly papers were delivered, the first by Reverend Dr. Thomas Best titled, “The Disciples of the Christ, the Holy Spirit and Ministry,” and the second by Bishop Dr. Michael Clay titled “The Ministry of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 3): Laying the Foundation.”
The meeting in Kentucky provided the Commission with an opportunity to meet with local church leaders and visit historic sites of the Disciples of Christ. The Commission was first welcomed by Bishop Roger Foys, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Covington, where the meeting was held. On Sunday, the Commission attended Sunday worship at Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Lexington, Kentucky, a congregation founded by Barton W. Stone, one of the founding fathers of the Disciples. Bishop John Stowe, Bishop of Lexington, also attended the service with the Commission.
After the service, dialogue members visited the Cane Ridge Meeting House, where Dr. Newell Williams, president of the Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth, TX, presented an article highlighting the most significant moments. of the communion revival of 1801, which gave birth to a movement that became the Disciples of Christ. At the end of the five-day meeting, the Reverend Dr. Don Gillett, Regional Minister for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kentucky, brought his greetings to the Commission on behalf of the regional church.
Bishop Ricken, Catholic Co-Chair, reflecting on this first session, said: “It is very important to approach a new subject and a new phase of an ecumenical dialogue by getting to know part of the history and the history of the other. It was an honor for me and the Catholic team to visit the birthplace of the Disciples of Christ, the Cane Ridge Sanctuary in Paris, Kentucky. Hearing the story of the birthplace of this movement is inspiring and will help us in dialogue for years to come. »
At the end of the meeting, Dr Welsh, co-chair of the Disciples, shared: “This session of the Dialogue has been a time to get to know each other as members of the Dialogue Commission from a wide variety of nations around the world. world (Australia, Korea, Puerto Rico, Ukraine, Vatican City/Colombia, UK and USA) as we come together in common prayer and share our personal understandings and experiences of the Holy Spirit.
Msgr. Clay noted, “It was a great honor to deliver the first academic paper of this dialogue phase for the Catholic team. Its purpose was to expound our magisterial and theological understanding of the word “ministry,” from ordained to instituted, from lay clergyman to commissioned. He also provided insight into the role of the Holy Spirit in relation to ministry, beginning with baptism, revealed in charisms, present in liturgical rites for those who are ordained.
The next meeting of the Commission will take place in Rome in June 2023.