Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches for expanding the recognition of baptism to Orthodox and Anglican churches

In the words of the FSPC Assembly of Delegates, the “Declaration on the mutual recognition of baptism” of the Swiss National Ecumenical Council is a strong ecumenical signal.
Photo: Gion Pfander

Each baptism welcomes someone new into the church. Baptism gives life to the church, but also constitutes an appeal to the churches to overcome their divides.

The Protestant Reformation, Roman Catholic, and Christian Catholic regional churches have already recognized one another’s baptisms since 1973. This step will now be followed by another: The expansion of this recognition to the Anglican Communion and the Orthodox churches in particular.

The Swiss National Ecumenical Council introduced a working group to this end in 2009, including representatives of the member churches and with the participation of the FSPC. This resulted last year in a “Declaration on the mutual recognition of baptism”, and the FSPC Assembly of Delegates authorized the Council today to sign this declaration.

For the FSPC, the declaration is an important step toward the unity of the church. Baptism is related to one’s life-long growth in faith. This understanding enables the Orthodox churches, in particular, to extend the recognition of baptism. Such an understanding, moreover, has led to a deepening of the dialogue with representatives of the Anabaptist and Baptist tradition, and has precipitated further thought on the topic of baptism among the Reformed churches.

The expansion of the recognition of baptism could in fact be announced by the Executive Committee of the Swiss National Ecumenical Council this year, to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1973 agreement on the recognition of baptism. The FSPC is convinced that this would constitute a strong ecumenical signal.