Methodists step up to the challenge of the Covenant
01 July 2014
The Methodist Church has made a commitment to taking a major
step forward in its relationship with the Church of England.
The two Churches are committed to making their unity more visible
through the Anglican-Methodist Covenant signed in 2003.
Today the Conference received a report, entitled
The Challenge of the Covenant, which recommends that both
Churches take action to enhance unity between them, with the work
being fully embedded in Church structures.
Professor Peter Howdle, Co-Chair of the Joint Implementation
Commission, which produced the report, said: "I think that now is
an auspicious time in ecumenical relationships and that the
Methodist Conference has taken a courageous and historic step in
endorsing our recommendations. A similar bold step by the Church of
England will completely change the relationship between our two
Churches and make our joint mission much more credible and deepen
our communion together."
The Conference directed that proposals for a form of Methodist
episcopal ministry (such as a 'president bishop') be developed for
consideration. It also urged local churches, circuits and districts
to make the most of what Anglican and Methodist churches can
already do together in joint worship and in serving their
communities. One example of this is the creation of 'Covenanted
Partnerships in Extended Areas', which allow an increase in shared
ministry in local areas.
"Covenanted Partnerships in Extended Areas are a very welcome
progression for us in Cumbria," said the Revd Richard Teal, Chair
of the Cumbria Methodist District. "We hope the whole of the county
will become one because they enable covenant partners to share
ministry and develop strategies across the area. They also allow
Methodist ministers to conduct baptisms and preside at holy
communion in Anglican churches and Anglican clergy to do the same
in Methodist churches."
The Church of England is expected to consider the same report at
the meeting of the General Synod following the sessions in July.
The report specifically challenges the Church of England to resolve
the issues that stand in the way of the interchangeability of the
ordained ministries of the two Churches.
In response to the publication of the report in May, the
Archbishops of Canterbury and York, together with the President and
Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, issued a joint
statement welcoming the report.