Sierra Madre, CA, USA, May 24-30, 1986


The second meeting of the third phase of the International Catholic-Pentecostal dialogue was held May 24-30, 1986 at the Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California. Co-sponsored by the Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity and certain representatives of the classical Pentecostal churches, this phase of dialogue began in 1985 and is scheduled for a five-year period. Co-chairmen for these discussions are the Rev. Kilian McDonnell, OSB, of St John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota and the Rev. Justus T. du Plessis of Faerie Glen, Pretoria, South Africa. The purpose of this dialogue is to conduct an exchange of theological views so that mutual understanding may be increased. There is also the desire to discover what theological ground each side holds in common, although the scope has not been defined as organic or structural unity.

Continuing certain aspects of discussion that began in last year's session when the theme was the "Communion of Saints ", the discussion of this meeting focused on the topic, "The Holy Spirit and the New Testament Vision of Koinonia". The Pentecostal paper was delivered by Dr Cecil M. Robeck, Jr, Assistant Dean and Assistant Professor of Church History at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California. The Roman Catholic paper was presented by Professor Dr Heribert Mühlen of the University of Paderborn, West Germany.

The concept of koinonia (or communion) is basic in Christian ecclesial self-understanding. For Catholics, the Second Vatican Council (1962- 65) put new emphasis on this notion in its presentation on the Church. The recent Extraordinary Synod of Bishops (1985) reiterated the notion of Church as communion as it reaffirmed the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. In Pentecostal teaching, koinonia is seen as an essential aspect of church life, as it relates to the Church's minis- try both to the world and to each other. This biblical understanding of koinonia is appreciated by both Roman Catholics and Pentecostals in the text from the Acts of the Apostles (2:42): "They (Christians) devoted themselves to the apostles' instruction and the communal life, to the breaking of bread and the prayers".

Each day began and ended with a time of prayer and Scripture reading. On the last evening of the dialogue, a Roman Catholic participant led the group through the stations of the Cross on the grounds of the Retreat Center as an introduction to this special act of Roman Catholic piety. This was followed by prayers led by a Pentecostal participant.

Several important contacts were made with members of local churches and institutions. On Sunday, May 25, the joint commission were guests at the morning worship service at Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, headquarters for the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, and at a luncheon sponsored by Dr Rolf McPherson, President of the Church. On Wednesday evening, May 28, the commission was joined at dinner by a group of professors from the Fuller Theological Seminary, followed by a discussion on the progress of theological dialogue led by Dr Russel P. Spittler, Associate Professor of New Testament at Fuller and a Pentecostal participant in the first stage of the dialogue. On Thursday afternoon, May 29, members of the commission visited the seminary and its "David J. du Plessis Center for Chris- tian Spirituality". At the finai luncheon on Fri- day, May 30, guests included Archbishop Roger Mahoney, the Archbishop of Los Angeles; Bishop William Levada, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles; and Mgr. Royale Vadakin, Ecumenical officer of the Archdiocese. Pentecostal guests included Dr. Rolf McPherson and the Rev. William O. Vickery, Superintendent of the Northern California-Nevada District of the Assemblies of God.

For the Pentecostal side, this session of the dialogue was especially significant in that several Pentecostal denominations sent official participants or observers. Those denominations represented at an official level included the International Communion of Charismatic Churches (Bishop Earl Paulk, Jr, Decatur, Georgia), the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (Dr John L. Amstutz, Los Angeles; Rev. Allan Hamilton, Portland, Oregon), and the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa (Dr Veroni Krüger). For the first time, observers carne from the Apostolic Church of Mexico (Rev. Manuel J. Gaxiola-Gaxiola, Mexico City), the Church of God of Prophecy (Bishop Hugh R. Edwards, Artesia, California), and the Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee (Dr. James D. Jenkins, Cleveland). Among the observers there was also a representative from the Swedish Pentecostal Movement, the Rev. Olof Djurfeldt, Editor-in-Chief of the Pentecostal daily newspaper, Dagen.

Other Pentecostal delegates included the Rev. David J. du Plessis (Co-chairman emeritus), Pasadena, California; Dr. Jerry L. Sandidge (co-secretary) , Tulsa, Oklahoma; Dr. Howard M. Ervin, Tulsa, Oklahoma; Mr. Miroslav Volf, Osijek, Yugoslavia; Dr. Del Tarr, Fresno, California; the Rev. Bernice Gerard, Vancouver, B. C., Canada; Dr. James A. Forbes, New York City; and Dr. Vinson Synan, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Other Roman Catholic participants included Mgr. Basil Meeking (co-secretary) and Rev. John A. Radano of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, Vatican City; Rev. John Haughey, SJ, Charlotte, North Carolina; Professor Hervé Legrand, OP, Paris, France; Rev. John Redford, London, England; Sr. Helen Rolfson, OSF, Collegeville, Minnesota.

The next meeting of the Catholic-Pentecostal Dialogue will be in 1987.


[Information Service 62 (1986/IV) 199-200]