Press Release

International Commission for Dialogue 
between the Disciples of Christ and the Catholic Church

Grand Prairie, Texas, June 21-25, 2024


(DECC, Grand Prairie, TX) The third session of the sixth phase of the International Commission for Dialogue between the Disciples of Christ and the Catholic Church took place in Grand Prairie, Texas, from June 21-25, 2024. This theological dialogue, which began in 1977, is cosponsored by the Catholic Church’s Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity (DPCU) and the Disciples Ecumenical Consultative Council (DECC). The ultimate goal of the dialogue is full visible unity between Catholics and Disciples of Christ.

The topic of the sixth phase is “The Ministry of the Holy Spirit (II Corinthians 3).” Previous meetings focused on “The Holy Spirit and the Ministry of the Church,” and “The Holy Spirit as Gift.” The general topic for the third meeting was “A Personal and Communal Gift.”

In accordance with the “Basic Outline,” three papers were delivered during the meeting: “A Personal and Communal Gift” by Rev. Dr. D. Newell Williams (Disciples of Christ); “Charisma and Office: The Dual Dimensions of Christian Ministry” by Rev. Dr. Taras Khomych (Catholic); and “Numbers 11: The Gift of the Spirit — Sharing the Burden of Leadership” prepared by Rev. Dr. Merryl Blair (Disciples of Christ) with additional notes by Dr. Ian Boxall (Catholic).

The sessions were enriched with daily prayers led alternately by different Commission members, fostering a spirit of shared faith and devotion. The Commission met with Rev. Dr. Andy Mangum, Regional Minister of the Southwest Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. The Commission also attended a Sunday worship service at University Christian Church, where they were warmly welcomed by Rev. Dr. Russ Peterman, Senior Pastor. Bishop David Ricken, Catholic co-chair, brought greetings to the congregation, emphasizing the significance of unity and our shared journey.

At the end of the meeting, Bishop David Ricken, the Catholic co-chair, described the session as follows: “I have been involved in this dialogue for several years now and am growing in awareness and understanding of the Disciples of Christ. By exploring the topic ‘A Personal and Communal Gift,’ despite our different origins, theologies, and approaches, we were given the opportunity to recognize the action of the Holy Spirit within our two communities, in particular through our respective understandings of the ordained ministry. Growing in relationships with one another over the years, both Catholic and Disciples members of the Commission can really understand the approach of each church in a clearer and more helpful way. The goal of this dialogue is full visible unity. This is not a very quick process but is bearing good fruit in mutual growth toward unity.”

Rev. Dr. Robert Welsh, Disciples co-chair, shared, “For me, this session of our International Commission for Dialogue has been a significant time of exploring together the important topic of the grace given by the Holy Spirit in the ordination of ministers, and thus in constituting the ministry of the whole church. As we shared in conversation about our theological understandings and personal experiences of the work of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of the church — and as we engaged in daily worship and prayer together, in informal moments of fellowship, and in deep listening to one another — I believe we took an important step in our journey together toward our goal of full visible unity in Christ.”

Members of the commission, comprised of prominent theologians and church leaders from around the world, have actively engaged in these dialogues, underscoring their deep commitment to Christian unity.

The Commission members from the Disciples of Christ are: Rev. Dr. Robert K. Welsh, Co-chair of the Commission, Indianapolis, USA; Rev. Paul S. Tché, Co-secretary of the Commission, Indianapolis, USA; Rev. Dr. Thomas F. Best, Belmont, USA; Rev. Dr. Merryl L. Blair, Melbourne, Australia; Rev. Dr. Geritza Olivella-Santana, Bayamón, Puerto Rico; Rev. Dr. D. Newell Williams, Fort Worth, USA; and Rev. Noël Suministrado, Hamiota, Canada/The Philippines.

The Commission members from the Catholic Church are: Most Reverend David L. Ricken, Co-chair of the Commission and Bishop of Green Bay, USA; Rev. Msgr. Juan Usma Gómez, Co-secretary of the Commission, Vatican City/Colombia; Dr. Ian Boxall, Oxford, UK; Msgr. Dr. Michael Clay, Raleigh, USA; Dr. Elizabeth Groppe, Dayton, USA; Rev. Dr. Taras Khomych, Ukraine/Liverpool, UK; and Rev. Dr. Michael G. Witczak, Washington, DC, USA.

To learn more about the dialogue, please visit this webpage: Disciples Catholic International Dialogue 

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