Methodist Conference debates Covenant challenges

Today, the annual Methodist Conference has received the second report from the Joint Implementation Commission (JIC). The JIC monitors and promotes the implementation of the Anglican-Methodist Covenant which was signed in November 2003 between the Methodist Church and the Church of England.

The report, entitled 'Living God's Covenant', records some encouragements and some disappointments and looks forward both realistically and hopefully.

There are many ways in which the Covenant is being lived-out at a grass-roots level, with much sharing in mission and ministry by members of both churches. Ten regional workshops that were held during 2006 involved around 600 people and offered a useful picture of attitudes to the Covenant and the capacity of the two churches to engage in mission.

Revd Peter Sulston, Coordinating Secretary for Unity in Mission for the Methodist Church and co-convenor of the JIC, says 'This report is very encouraging and there is clearly a lot of good work going on, with Anglicans and Methodists sharing in worship and mission, caring for each other and serving their communities. But there is still much more to be done. The passion for mission and evangelism expressed by both churches is a powerful driver for covenant living. We hope the recommendations of this report will strengthen that commitment and help us to make the most of the gifts and resources of our two churches.'

'Living God's Covenant' also draws attention to areas where more work needs to be done to achieve unity, such as increasing an awareness of the Covenant and encouraging ownership of joint initiatives in local settings. While much work remains to be done it encourages both churches to do more to use existing opportunities to share in ministry and in mission and evangelism in every part of both churches.

The report also suggests that The Methodist Church and the Church of England should consult together on the shape of a reformed House of Lords and consider making a joint submission to the Government.

A further report in 2008 will seek to say more about the concrete form that the unity the churches seek might take.

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