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Christian Initiation in the Anglican Communion

John W. B. Hill and Rowena J. Roppelt


What is common about common prayer? The question is particularly poignant with respect to the rite of baptism, the source of the unity of the church. This article begins by reviewing baptism in the Book of Common Prayer, exploring how this rite was influenced by an ecclesiology rooted in Christendom. An impoverished understanding and practice of baptism is revealed, which serves to ensure social stability rather than initiation into a new way of life. The authors point out the necessity of re-thinking the rite of baptism and baptismal ecclesiology in a post-Christendom context. They propose that a renewed conception depends upon a common liturgical shape and principles of revision, and explore the 1991 report of the IALC which sets forth such principles. Finally, the article examines recent baptismal rites, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of these revisions. The authors conclude that a sense of community and purpose, defined by “our common baptism,” continues to elude the Anglican Communion.

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