Major Methodist Ecumenical Statements

Our Ecumenical Calling: Making a difference together in the twenty-first century  
At its Wolverhampton Conference in 2009, the Methodist Church reiterated its commitment to ecumenical relationships. 

In a vision statement, Our Ecumenical Calling, the Methodist Church committed itself to worshiping, learning and working with other Christians wherever and whenever possible.  It is about sharing the Christian gospel together with partner Churches, to make a difference in the 21st century and expressing our identity as Methodists in new ways.

The vision statement includes a commitment to pray, worship and work with people from other Churches regularly.  It also affirms the Church's dedication to learning with other Christians about our common faith and heritage in order to support mutual growth.

This is the latest in a series of statements about ecumenism made by the Methodist Church.

The Deed of Union
The Deed of Union, which sets out Methodist Doctrinal Standards, makes it clear that,
'The Methodist Church claims and cherishes its place in the Holy Catholic Church which is the Body of Christ. It rejoices in the inheritance of the apostolic faith and loyally accepts the fundamental principles of the historic creeds and of the Protestant Reformation.' (Clause 4 Deed of Union)

Called to Love and Praise
This belief has implications for the life of the Methodist Church at every level, particularly when it comes to relationships with other churches. The most detailed definition of the Methodist understanding of ecumenism as an essential aspect of what it is to be the Methodist Church is set out in Called to Love and Praise: The Nature of the Christian Church in Methodist Practice and Experience.

This document expresses a Methodist understanding of the church which is founded upon the belief that the Church is one because God is one.

'This is not simply an aspiration, but a God-given reality. The Church, however, reflects the oneness of God most fully when its search for unity with God goes hand in hand with the search for and realisation of unity within its own life. Indeed, one of the tests of the Church's unity with God is the unity which the Church enjoys within its own life. Conversely, because the basis of the Church's unity is God's own being and grace, that unity contains within itself a very rich diversity.'

Called to Love and Praise makes it clear that the Methodist Church understands unity as an essential aspect of the church's missionary task. Faithful proclamation of the faith of the apostles is a crucial aspect of living out the Gospel and one of the most important ways in which to share in our common heritage as the people of God.

Towards An Ecumenical Strategy
Towards an Ecumenical Strategy, adopted by the Conference in 2001, outlines an ecumenical strategy which constitutes a "whole Church ecumenism." This is drawn from a vision of one Church for one World; a desire to share in a common life with all Christian people; and a commitment to seeking the full visible unity of the Church.

A Review of Ecumenical Work 
In April 2008 the Methodist Council adopted a Review of Ecumenical Work, which seeks to reflect the nature of society and the range of partners many local churches find themselves working with. Our Ecumenical Calling, adopted by the 2009 Methodist Conference, replaces the vision statement in this document.

'Our Calling' and 'Priorities for the Methodist Church' express a vision of Methodist identity and discipleship. Both contain a commitment to working in partnership - 'building partnerships with other churches and other groups who share some of our mission aims' (Our Calling), 'with others wherever possible' (Priorities). 

Episcopacy
Other reports that have a direct bearing on Methodism's commitment to ecumenism include 'Episcopacy' (1998) (from Statements and Reports of the Methodist Church on Faith and Order Volume 2, Part 2, page 370) which traces various developments in the understanding and history of Methodist consideration of the topic, and Episkope And Episcopacy (2000).

This report affirms the Methodist Church's willingness to take episcopacy into its polity in the context of appropriate ecumenical developments and on the basis of a series of guidelines adopted as part of the report (Paragraph 114). Whilst these two documents provide the most comprehensive treatment of the issue of Episcopacy earlier documents help to give a fuller understanding of the way in which British Methodism has sought to address the issue

• Methodism and Episcopacy (1978)
• Episcopacy in the Methodist Church (1981)
• Episcopacy and Methodist Doctrinal Standards (1982)
All of these can be found in Statements and Reports of the Methodist Church on Faith and Order Volume 1.

Faith and Order Statements
For more information about Faith and Order statements, consult these documents.  (Unfortunately they are currently out of print but they are available electronically on the Methodist Church website under Faith and Order Statements.) 

Faith and Order Volume OneFaith & Order Statements Volume 1 - 1933-1983. A compendium of agreed statements and reports adopted or received by the Conference on a range of issues to do with church, ministry, sacraments, ecumenism, and other topics, including the use of the Bible, inclusive language, universalism and New Age.

Faith and Order Volume Two

 

 

Faith & Order Statements Volume 2 - 1984-2000. Bound in 2 parts. Topics include Ecumenism, Other Faiths, Inclusive Language.

 


 

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