Indianapolis – The International Commission for Dialogue between the Disciples of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church held its second meeting in the fourth phase of its dialogue at Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis, Indiana on December 4 to 9, 2005. The focus of this session was to explore the critical issue of “the presence of Christ in the Eucharist” as it informs and shapes the Disciples and Catholic understandings of the church and its unity.

Major papers on the theme of the meeting were presented by Dr. Margaret O’Gara (Catholic), professor of Theology at University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto, Canada, and Dr. William Tabbernee (Disciples), president of Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As foundational to the discussion of these papers, the dialogue team also shared in bible studies on the scriptural understandings of the Lord’s Supper/Eucharist offered by Fr. Abbot Denis Farkasfalvy, O.Cist. (Catholic), from the University of Dallas, Texas, and the Rev. Merryl Blair (Disciples), from Melbourne, Australia, and in presentations giving an overview of the belief and practice of the Eucharist in the Catholic Church by Bishop Basil Meeking, from Chicago, Illinois, and in the Disciples by Dr. James Duke, from Ft. Worth, Texas.

Meeting in Indianapolis, the dialogue team was able to make a visit to the general offices of the Disciples in the US and Canada where they were welcomed by the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President. The team also met with local Disciples and Catholic pastors and lay leaders at Central Christian Church in downtown Indianapolis where they discussed the goal and direction of the international dialogue in relation to the congregational and local setting.

Important elements throughout the meeting were the occasions of daily worship and prayer where the participants experienced the different spiritualities and worship traditions of the two churches. Meeting in the season of Advent provided a liturgical context of hope and expectancy that marked the work of the dialogue participants.

The co-chairs of the dialogue are Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, OSB, Archbishop of Indianapolis, and Dr. William Tabbernee. In reflecting on the dialogue, Archbishop Buechlein noted that,

“This bilateral dialogue carries out essential work for our respective churches. What we do in listening to and engaging with each other matters.” Dr. Tabbernee stated, “Our ultimate goal is full eucharistic fellowship. To achieve that goal we need to understand our respective beliefs and practices, and celebrate what we can affirm together as we also identifying areas where we must still move closer together. In this dialogue both of our traditions claim the Eucharist/the Lord’s Supper as the source of the Church’s life and mission.”

The focus for the 2006 dialogue session will be on the topic: “Unity in Christ: one faith, one baptism, and the eucharistic koinonia.”

Members of the dialogue team include, for Disciples of Christ: Dr. William Tabbernee (co-chair), the Rev. Merryl Blair, Dr. James Duke, Dr. Michael Kinnamon, The Rev. Marjorie Lewis, the Rev. Dr. Kay Bessler Northcutt, Dr. David Thompson, and Dr. Robert Welsh (co-secretary); for Catholics: Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, OSB (co-chair), the Most Rev. Basil Meeking, Rev. Abbot Denis Farkasfalvy, Dr. Margaret O’Gara, the Rev. Robert Turner, Dr. Lawrence J. Welch, Dr. Robert Wilken, and Msgr. John Mutiso-Mbinda (co-secretary).