Principles and Values
The Baptist Union of Italy (UCEBI) brings together local churches born of the gospel witnes started in Italy in the 1860’s. Founded in 1956 it replaced the Apostolic Baptist Union (UCAB) which, formed in 1884 by English and American missions working in Italy, by 1924 had become the Italian Baptist Mission.
Italian Baptists belong to the family of Protestant Churches and are members of both international organizations such as the World Baptist Alliance, the European Baptist Federation, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Conference of European Churches (KEK) as well as national ones such as the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) whose head office is in Rome. In relation to Protestants in general, Italian Baptists share the same characteristics as Baptists world wide:
- Baptism by immersion of believers, administered to all who make a personal confession of faith.
- Congregational ecclesiology with its stress on the autonomy of the local church which, gathered together in assembly, elects its ministers (both women and men) and has full decisional power over all aspects of the church’s life. The assembly is made up of all baptized believers as well as believers from other protestant churches who accept Baptist principles.
- Freedom of conscience for every human being.
- Separation of church and state into two distinct spheres which do not interfere in each other’s area of competence.
The Organs of the UCEBI
The GENERAL ASSEMBLY. There is no national Baptist Church but a union of local churches whose representatives, together with the pastors and Union representatives, gather every two years for the General Assembly which is the UCEBI’s main organ. The General Assembly not only has a legislative function but also elects the administrative, representative and controlling organs of the UCEBI. It sets the general guidelines for the life of the Union and deliberates on the work to be undertaken together with the local churches without, however, undermining their autonomy.
The EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE governs the Union according to the directives (concerning organizational, economic and financial questions) of the General Assembly to which the Committee is accountable. It is made up of nine members (including the President and Vice President) who are elected by the General Assembly and can stand for up to three consecutive terms.
The PRESIDENT of the UNION is elected by the General Assembly for a maximum of three consecutive terms and represents the Union before the Churches, the State and every external organization. He or she serves as a connection between the Union and its member churches, convenes the Executive Committee and reads the moral and financial reports on behalf of the Exceutive Committee to the General Assembly. In case of need, the President can be substituted by the Vice President elected in the same way by the General Assembly. At the moment the President of the Italian Baptist Union is the pastor Anna Maffei and the Vice President, past. Salvatore Rapisarda.
The COLLEGE OF AUDITORS is made up of five members elected by the General Assembly. It examines the action of the Executive Committee, the President and the Vice President as well as of the directive organs of the Institutions and acting bodies of the UCEBI. It also examines the Union’s various financial accounts and reports to the General Assembly. The current president of the College of Auditors is Massimiliano Pani.
The COLLEGE OF ELDERS is made up of five members and is elected by the General Assembly. Its task is to settle controversies arising among members, organs, bodies and persons belonging to the Union. Its current present is past. Domenico Tomasetto.
The acting bodies of the UCEBI
The DEPARTMENT OF THEOLOGY is responsible for the biblical and theological formation of Union ministers serving both on a local and national scale. In liaison with the Executive Committee, it provides the local churches with texts, documents and other material designed to enhance their spiritual growth and promotes refresher courses for their ministers. Its current secretary is past. Massimo Aprile who is aided by four collaborators chosen in accordance with the Executive Committee.</li>
<li>The DEPARTMENT OF EVANGELISM promotes, encourages and coordinates the churches’ evangelism. In liaison with the Executive Committee, it publishes material for evangelism, coordinates the relations between the UCEBI and its foreign member churches and promotes musical and liturgical competency. Its current secretary is past. Alessandro Spanu while the musical and liturgical animation is carried out by the deacon Carlo Lella.
The COLLEGE OF PASTORS is made up of the pastors operating in the Union both locally and nationally. Its aim is to promote relations among the pastors, give them moral support and provide them with tools designed to enhance their ministry. It conducts its business and choosesits representatives independently. It is led by a group of three people whose president is past. Sandra Spada.
The BAPTIST WOMEN’S MOVEMENT is responsible for the work of various women’s groups within the churches. It is responsible for the conference centre situated in Rocca di Papa and organizes the work, study and relations of the women’s groups in coordination with the Federation of Protestant Women in Italy. Every year in december it organizes a special “love offering” on behalf of the work of the European Baptist Mission. Its current president is Deborah D'Auria.
The BAPTIST YOUTH MOVEMENT is part of the Federation of Protestant Youth which brings together young people’s groups belonging to the member churches of the FCEI (Baptists, Salvation Army, Free Churches, Lutherans, Methodists, Waldensians).