The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship voted to join the Christian Churches Together – a newly formed ecumenical body that unites not only mainline protestants, evangelicals and Pentecostals, but also Orthodox and Roman Catholics under one voice.
The Coordinating Council of the CBF decided to pursue participation in the CCT during a Feb. 20 meeting, with the hopes of being a founding member to the potentially largest ecumenical group in the U.S.
Leaders of the American Baptist Churches who also recently decided to join the CCT said they are “excited about potential opportunities for formal dialogue with other U.S. Christians,” according to the Associated Baptist Press.
"Our General Board has authorized us to become a part of it officially," said ABC General Secretary Roy Medley "It will give us a place to have the spectrum of our family represented.”
According to Medley, the CCT "will be more about conversations and mutual knowledge of one another's faith and traditions," rather than be a body that pass resolutions and take specific political positions.
Therefore, vast arrays of Christians are expected to join.
"That means that Roman Catholics and Evangelical Pentecostals will be involved," said Medley.
Daniel Vestal, CBF coordinator, agreed with Medley and said he was impressed by the broad inclusiveness of CCT.
"I've, frankly, been waiting for the emergence of some ecumenical body that fits CBF," said Vestal, "and in which we fit.”
“This is the most ambitious ecumenical effort ever put forth," said Vestal.
Currently the two largest national organizations of churches, the National Council of Churches and the National Association of Evangelicals, do not include the involvement of Catholics.
The CCT, however, loosely identifies five “families”: Evangelical/Pentecostal, Historic Protestant, Historic Racial/Ethnic, Orthodox and Roman Catholic.
In addition, the CCT approaches ecumenism with dialogue, rather than policy making, allowing a broad spectrum of Christians to participate.
"There is a real effort in this to keep everybody at the table," said Vestal.
The CCT is preparing for its official launch by broadening and expanding fellowship members. Conceived in September 2001, the CCT, which currently involves 25 organizations and denominations, plans to launch in early 2005.