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Confession of Faith of the Baptist Churches adhering to UCEBI in Italy

 

Preamble
The Churches, that in Italy were born trough the preaching of Baptist preachers soon after the achievement of the political unity of Italy and those that in the course of time have established bonds of fraternity with them, are now parts of the fellowship of the Evangelical Baptist Union of Italy (UCEBI). Historically they link themselves in the tradition that goes back to the Apostles and that in the course of time has stressed the primitive faith as it is expressed in the Scriptures, in the terms of the renewal of the Spirit (Middle Ages), of the Reformation (XVI and XVII centuries) and the missionary effort (XVIII and XIX centuries). They today declare to undertake Christ’s discipleship, in the clarity of their identity of faith and in the ethical awareness of witness, and therefore they affirm to be willing to express this bound in the practical cooperation and in the following declarations of faith.

Art. 1
– Sola Gratia God accomplishes the work of creation, of judgement and of salvation of the world and every single person only by His grace.

Art. 2
– Solus Cristus God the Father accomplishes his work through His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, Word made man who died on the cross for the sin of mankind, who rose for the justification of every believer, and who is Lord and Saviour of the world.

Art. 3 Sola Scriptura
– The Bible is the unique authentic witness of the work of God through Jesus Christ. In so far as the Holy Spirit makes it the Word of God, it must be studied, honoured and obeyed.

Art. 4 Human nature
– Humanity, alienated from God and divided within itself can not work or even hope for its own salvation: only God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit accomplishes by grace the salvation of humanity and of the world.

Art. 5 Sola Fide
– The word of God, incarnated in Jesus Christ, witnessed in the Bible and proclaimed through the preaching of the Gospel can be accepted only by faith. Men and women, being sinners obtain justification and reconciliation through faith and repentance.

Art. 6 The Holy Spirit
– The Holy Spirit, who inspired the prophets and who witnesses the truth and sanctifies, gives the believers certainty of God’s faithfulness and manifest Himself in various gifts and in vocations to serve the Lord in the Church and in the whole world.

Art. 7 Christian Discipleship
– Whoever hears and accepts the word of Christ has to follow the Lord as a disciple. This discipleship implies to bear for love’s sake, serious responsibilities, never exempt from contradictions and dangers of compromises, yet always animated by the hope of the kingdom of God.

Art. 8 The Church
– The Church of Christ is wherever believers are gathered together by the word or the Gospel to listen to it again and again, to share in the Lord’s Supper, to strengthen the bond of love, to make disciples through the teaching and baptism, because Christ is in their midst. Each Church so gathered, organises itself in places and given times according to the word of the Gospel and under the authority of Christ alone. Each Church has equal dignity in front of the Lord, each receives from the Spirit ministries, able to answer effectively to their calling and each is required to favour the unity of the Spirit with the bond of peace. We believe that the Church of the Lord, thus characterised during history, is one in Christ, holy in the Spirit, apostolic in derivation and mission, universal in its horizon according to the Gospel that gives her life and that she proclaims.

Art. 9 Baptism
– Baptism in water of those who confess their faith is the first act of obedience of each Christian person. It is administered by the Church in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. By virtue of the baptism in the Spirit, which makes effective the baptism in water, believers are born to new life and are united in the body of Christ.

Art. 10 Lord’s Supper
– The Lord’s Supper that we, united in the unique body of Christ, celebrate sharing bread and wine, is memory of the work accomplished by the Lord for our salvation and it is preaching of His death for us until the day in which the risen Lord comes. The Lord invites us to eat bread and drink wine to affirm again in the present the commitment that unites us and the promise of the time when He will gather his own in the banquet of new Heaven and new Earth.

Art. 11 Universal priesthood of all believers
– Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and mankind. Every disciple has access to God only through Christ. The mandate, entrusted to them by the Lord, to share the Gospel with their fellow men and women, constitutes them authoritative messengers of the word under the exclusive authority of Christ and by the effective working of the Holy Spirit.

Art. 12 The ministries
– In order to equip the Church with the essential gifts to make it living body of Christ, the Holy Spirit calls different believers to fulfil different ministries. We recognise that today, in the first place, they are ministries for the proclamation of the word, for Bible and theological teaching, for the ruling of the Church and for the service of the Church in the world: we are also ready to recognise any other gift that the Spirit awakes in the Church. The relationship among the ministries is not hierarchical, but organic; every one, and each for his or her part, cooperates in the life of the Church.

Art. 13 The mission of the Church
– The Church is called to fulfil the mandate of Christ. Therefore, she has to preach the Gospel of the coming kingdom, to engage in healing of the sick and in the emancipation of the oppressed. The witness that the Church as a body will offer to the love of God for all the world becomes credible when implies practical love, shown in mutual help, in reconciliation and in peace.

Art. 14 Ethics
– Ethical decisions that qualify Christian discipleship have to be taken by virtue of the strength of the love shown in Christ and with a sense of responsibility towards God, towards every person and towards creation. Such decisions are inspired and oriented by the word of God and become practical actions that may be in line with commonly recognised values, but may also become modernising and revolutionary actions.

Art. 15 Reconciliation
– Baptist Churches engage in promoting reconciliation with God and among human beings. We feel called to engage in promoting justice, peace, freedom and respect for the rights of mankind and the entire creation.

Art. 16 Church and State
– We believe that the authority established by God is ordained to enable peaceful, free and just living of every single person and all peoples. We acknowledge that the modern democratic State, even with all the contradictions proper in any human society, shows clear signs of the redeeming work of God in history. The role of the Church of Christ, distinct from the one of the State, consists in realising her own mission in coordination with State policy, but if it is the case, even in denouncing those degenerating actions that restrict freedom and corrupt justice.

Art. 17 Ecumenism
– The Church is one in Christ. The Lord calls us to realise such unity in a visible way. We are, therefore, called to work in order to abolish, in a spirit of prayer, in the common listening to the word of the Lord and in brotherly dialogue, the existing divisions among the Churches. We trust that the ecumenical engagement realised among similar Evangelical Churches, far from excluding more problematic relationships with other Churches, leads the way to full reciprocal recognition among Churches in such a way that it is both safeguard of each Church’s specificity and a step towards the day when God will be all in all.

Art. 18 Religion and religions
– Religion is the human activity universal and manifold, meant to cultivate the relationship with what one believes that transcends worldly reality in all its dimensions. Religion, as human work, is under God’s judgement. Therefore, while we realise our calling in proclaiming the Gospel of the grace of God in Christ, it is not our duty to judge, but we are called to respect each person’s freedom rights.

Art. 19 Christian hope
– The Lord Jesus Christ, according to his promise, will return to gather his Church, to judge the world, to defeat death through the resurrection of the dead and to establish his kingdom. New Heaven and new Earth await the redeemed.

Mr. Maurizio Benazzi,
Thank you for your kind and respectful letter and request. I am delighted to offer a response and to have you use any of the following for the newsletter Ecumenici – Leonhard Ragaz. It is a very important initiative and I am grateful for your leadership and service for peace and justice through it.

In addition to what I will share in this text, I invite you to use anything you find useful from our website – www.mlp.org – my bio, other writings, etc. You might find interesting that I just returned from a Benefit Climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro for LGBT Equality — and took an Italian rainbow PACE flag with me to the summit. Photos of that Italian PACE flag are on our website with the stories at www.mlp.org

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For your use in the newsletter:

 

First of all, we are very glad to welcome you among us, dear friend: how do you feel in yr job in MLP, psychologically, physically and spiritually?

As an out gay human rights activist, I work to foster understanding, acceptance and embrace of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender persons and their families within their faith communities of choice and civil society. I have been an activist serving in the LGBT and HIV-AIDS communities since 1988. Radical progress has been achieved toward LGBT equality and in raising awareness and support for those affected by HIV-AIDS, and there is much yet to accomplish.

Working for change and LGBT equality within faith communities in the United States, with particular attention to the Christian tradition and the Presbyterian Church (USA) as an out gay person of faith places me in remarkable situations. I am often interpreting “the church” to LGBT persons encouraging them to know that not all Christians are anti-gay, and at the same time, working to let Christians know that many of us who are people of faith want to fully participate within our church, tradition or faith community.

I do believe absolutely that as queer people, we are people of heart and spirit. I believe that being gay is a gift, a blessing and certainly not a mistake or curse. I believe that God creates all persons in the image of God, that God loves all of God’s creation unconditionally, and that all persons should be unconditionally welcome into all faith communities.

 

What are the purposes of the MLP? Do you believe you reached those goals in USA …and in Europe have you contacts?


Having worked full-time for More Light Presbyterians, the national LGBT equality network within the Presbyterian Church (USA) since 1999, it has become evident to me that this work of LGBT equality, like other peace and justice work, is a long-distance run, a marathon, not a sprint. It is important, therefore, for all of us who are activists to take good care of ourselves and each other, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

While we have some correspondence with LGBT people of faith in Europe, and around the world, we do not have a tangible network beyond the USA. I keep a global view by participating in Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

How can we the europeans, whether as citizens or as believers, help american people, to settle peace in Iraq by the means of non-violence?
It is important for all the people of the world who are committed to making peace and ending war to keep speaking up and speaking out. It is essential for each person to work for peace within their own country, to continue holding up the possibilities and necessity for peace to their own political and religious leaders. A growing number of citizens within the USA oppose war, and this war in Iraq. Many of us have opposed this war from its start. As Italians, please continue to place pressure upon your political leaders to not support the USA in such unilateral actions. And, may all of us continue to pray for peace while working to end this war. The other day my heart was encouraged by seeing a sign on a car in my hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico that said this, “I oppose the next war.”

While it is necessary to persist in political action, to speak out, to voice our commitments to peace… it is also necessary to live together in peace where we are by recognized all persons and creation as sacred, worthy of respect, equality and care.

 

What spiritual message would you send to our subscribers, believers of every religious confession and non-believers?
As a person of faith, I take seriously the commandment of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels, that we are commanded to “love God, neighbor and self.” And, Jesus was clear to say that their are no boundaries to that understanding of neighbor, that all persons are our neighbors. The spiritual ethics, teachings and example of Jesus parallel Buddha. The ethical teachings and essence of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism mirror each other in the call for all persons, all beings to dwell together in peace, harmony and community. Any departure from these ethics and values do not reflect the truth of each.

It is not possible for a person of faith, Christian, Jew, Muslim or Buddhist, to authentically claim that lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender persons are not equally created sacred and natural. Who we are, who we fall in love with, how we make love and create family as LGBT persons is natural and sacred.

 

What do you think about ecumenism in the U.S?


The ecumenical movement in the United States with roots back to the 1960’s finds some of its strongest expression and growth within the Welcoming Church Movement in the United States and Canada. Many of us who are working for LGBT equality within our own tradition share resources, network and organize across denomination or faith tradition lines. Those who study the growth of churches indicate that the Welcoming Church Movement is experiencing significant growth in the midst of decline for those who are unwilling to offer hospitality, welcome and affirmation to LGBT persons and their families.

While we continue to address homophobia and heterosexism within civil society and among some religious groups, the tide has turned. It is not morally or spiritually acceptable to “gay bash” as it was even a few years ago. In political, religious and social circles and discourse, it is not possible to “get away” with anti-gay remarks or discrimination without a challenge now.

 

Can we find in USA a sincere dialogue with islamic religion?


Interfaith dialogues for and between LGBT Christians, Jews and Muslims continue to be part of the welcoming movement within both the USA and Canada. We share common goals of working for understanding and acceptance within our own faith traditions, as well as dealing with mythology about us that seems to be similar across lines. Interesting, fundamentalist theology and language sounds quite the same whether it comes from a fundamentalist Christian, Jew or Muslim. It is not acceptable that any religion, society or government ruled by religion, treat LGBT persons as second-class human beings or citizens. All persons of faith, and all human beings committed to fairness, must challenge any and all ant-gay attitudes, laws or treatment that harms or discriminates against LGBT persons and their families.

 

Can you tell us about a few meaningful episodes of your personal and ecclesiastic life; what’s happen today in USA in LGBT community and the HIV-AIDS Community ?


I see many signs for hope. More countries are recognizing that they violate principles of fairness by not allowing same-gender couples to marry. Those of us working for marriage equality for same-gender couples in the USA are encouraged when other countries lead the way, lead by example and offer same-gender marriage and/or civil unions. While struggles continues within religious bodies, there is no turning back. Not too many years ago, invisibility and silence were the rule. Now, as LGBT persons we are out, we are claiming our spiritual birthright along with equal civil rights alongside heterosexuals.
My best to you and those you love,
Michael

Michael J. Adee, M.Div., Ph.D., Nationa Field Organizer
More Light Presbyterians, 369 Montezuma Avenue # 447, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501 USA
(505) 820-7082 , michaeladee@aol.com, www.mlp.org

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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