The Christian Reformed Church has never required new members from the Roman Catholic Church to be re-baptized, but Synod 2011 made that position official on Monday afternoon.
On the same note, Roman Catholic churches will recognize Christian Reformed Church baptisms, thanks to a common Certificate of Baptism that synod also adopted for use in the CRC.
Synod approved a “Common Agreement on the Mutual Recognition of Baptism,” a document to be shared by the Presbyterian Church USA, the Reformed Church in America, and the United Church of Christ, as well as the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S.
“This agreement says nothing about the Roman Catholic Church, just that this baptism is valid,” said Rev. Ron Feenstra, a member of the CRC’s Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee, which worked out the agreement during seven years of ecumenical dialogue.
Rev. Harold Caicedo (right) addresses synod, with translation help from Rev. Felix Fernandez.
Rev. Harold Caicedo, Classis California South, said he could not agree with accepting Roman Catholic baptisms. Every person in his congregation was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church, he said, and 23 people have asked to be re-baptized by him.
“If I, as the pastor, tell all these people who desire to be baptized that it’s not necessary to be baptized because we accept the baptism of the Roman Catholic Church, the following days would have none of these people in my church,” said Caicedo, speaking through an interpreter. “I invite the CRC to investigate further our condition in relation to the Roman Catholic Church for the Latino community.”
“People who have a spiritual awakening in their lives sometimes want to affirm that by being re-baptized,” said Rev. Henry Gunnink, Classis Lake Superior. “It seems to me that the CRC should make some sort of exception for people like that who have serious professional conviction about the tradition from which they came.”
The agreement affirms that baptism is a sacramental gateway into the Christian life and should be conferred only once, using water and the “scriptural Trinitarian formula,” i.e. “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
For more coverage while synod is in session, including webcasts, photos, a discussion forum, reports, and more, visit the Synod 2011 website.