Mutual Recognition of Baptism

Christian baptism

Jesus Christ is our salvation. Through him, God has overcome the distance of sinners from God (Romans 5:10) to make us God's sons and daughters. As a sharing in the mystery of Christ's death and resurrection, baptism signifies our new birth in Jesus Christ. Those who receive this sacrament, and in faith confess God's love, are united with Christ and at the same time with his people of all ages and places. As a sign of the unity of all Christians, baptism unites them with Jesus Christ, who is the foundation of that unity. Despite differences in our understanding of the Church, a common understanding on baptism exists between us.

Therefore, obedient to the command of Jesus, we all recognize baptism administered with water, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, in the symbolic act of immersion or affusion, and we rejoice at the baptism of every person so baptized. This mutual recognition of baptism is an expression of our bond of unity in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:4-6). Baptism thus administered is once-for-all and unrepeatable.

With the Lima Text, we confess that "our one baptism into Christ constitutes a call to the churches to overcome their divisions and visibly manifest their fellowship" (Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, Baptism, para. 6).


EKD Press Release

Eleven churches in Germany will sign an agreement in Magdeburg on 29 April, 2007.

On 29 April, for the first time the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), the German Bishops' Conference, Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches and Free Churches at German Federal Republic level will sign a formal agreement on mutual recognition of baptism. The signing of the agreement will take place in the course of an ecumenical service of worship on 29 April at 5:00 PM in Magdeburg Cathedral. Leaders representing the 11 participating churches will be present, including the Chair of the EKD Council Bishop Wolfgang Huber, and the President of the German Bishops' Conference Cardinal Karl Lehmann. The host will be the bishop of the Evangelical Church of the Province of Saxony Bishop Axel Noack. The homily will be delivered by Emeritus Bishop Walter Klaiber of the Evangelical Methodist Church.

For some 30 years there have been individual regional agreements on mutual recognition of baptism in Germany between EKD member churches and Roman Catholic dioceses. However, until now there has not been an agreement at the level of the Evangelical Church in Germany and the German Bishops' Conference. In May 2002, the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Walter Cardinal Kasper, took the initiative of exploring with bishops' conferences the question of baptism and the ecumenical significance of mutual recognition of baptism, so as to reach appropriate agreements between the churches. The German Bishops' Conference took up the challenge from Rome and made the proposal to work towards mutual recognition of baptism encompassing the whole of the German Bishops' Conference and the Evangelical Church in Germany. A working group, with members also representing the Commission of the Orthodox Church in Germany (KOKiD), the Evangelical Methodist Church (also representing other free churches) and the Old Catholics (also representing the Anglican Church), produced a document that has been agreed to by the EKD Council and the Permanent Council of the German Bishops' Conference.

The following churches have agreed to this common document:

Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church in Germany
Catholic Diocese of Old Catholics in Germany
Ethiopian Orthodox Church
Fellowship of Anglican-Episcopal Congregations in Germany
Evangelical Church in Germany
Evangelical Old Reformed Church in Lower Saxony
Evangelical Methodist Church
Evangelical Unity of Brethren (Herrnhut Brethren)
Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church
Orthodox Church in Germany
Roman Catholic Church.

The ecumenical service of worship has been planned by representatives of the signatory churches. The EKD Council Chair Bishop Wolfgang Huber will open the worship, and the President of the German Bishops' Conference Karl Cardinal Lehmann will dismiss the congregation with a baptismal commission. Emeritus Bishop Walter Klaiber, of the Evangelical Methodist Church, will preach. A greeting will be given by Pastor Werner Funck, of the Mennonites, on behalf of the Fellowship of Christian Churches (ACK), who are not signatories to the agreement. Their theological hesitation concerns the validity of infant baptism.

Hannover, April 23, 2007
EKD Press Office