District Resolution

CLOSER WORKING BETWEEN THE METHODIST CHURCH AND THE UNITED REFORMED CHURCH

The Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District Synod (Present: 153. Vote: F:153 A:O) requests the Methodist Conference of 2008 to discuss the matter of closer working between the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church.  Its concern has arisen out of its own contact with the West Midlands Synod of the United Reformed Church, and is aware of a parallel resolution being presented by that Synod to the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church.

It is some years since consideration was given to Methodist/United Reformed Church relationships. During that time there has been much experience gained in working together.  Since this was last looked at the Methodist Church has entered into a covenant with the Church of England, which is facilitating ecumenical progress. 

62. District Resolutions

This resolution seeks to complement that initiative.  We look to the Conference and General Assembly to guide us whether there is a desire in the Methodist and United Reformed Churches to explore how we might work closer together.  If the Conference and General Assembly are so minded we are suggesting the setting up of a group to bring further proposals to both the Conference and the General Assembly, at a time appropriate to the group.  This is not a proposal to move to organic union, unless this emerged as the direction in which the Spirit is leading.  It is a proposal to explore further joint working for the sake of shared mission.

Issues that might be considered by the group are:

  • Since church governance is very different in our two churches can we create a structure that minimises ecumenical meetings but facilitates diversity? This might be less than full union but closer than we are now. Areas that would need addressing include the Connexional nature of the Methodist Church together with the role of Circuits, alongside the United Reformed Church emphasis on the role of Elders and Church meetings
  • In view of United Reformed Church structures changing with Synods playing the main intermediate role between the Assembly and the local church, and Circuits being enlarged within the Methodist Church, together with the changing role of the District, is there a possibility of a joint structure at District/Synod level?
  • Is there value in a joint governing conference? E.g. a joint meeting between Methodist Conference and United Reformed Church General Assembly, with some sessions overlapping and some held separately 
  • Can resources be used more effectively together enabling us to put more resources into mission and outreach? E.g. in the areas of training, finance, ministerial deployment & lay leadership
  • What effect would any such moves have on other ecumenical relations? We want to see this as adding another strand to effective ecumenical working rather than competing with existing work.

This is not intended as an exhaustive list, rather examples of what might be worth looking at.

*RESOLUTION
62/2. 
The Conference notes the large number of Local Ecumenical Partnerships and increasing numbers of ecumenical areas where Methodists and members of the United Reformed Church work closely together, the success of the Joint Public Issues Team, the similarity of worship patterns, and the shared understanding of church life in many local Methodist and United Reformed churches; and directs the Methodist Council to engage in further conversations with the relevant bodies of the United Reformed Church as to how we can work more closely together, using more efficiently the resources of the two Churches to increase our effectiveness in mission and outreach and to respond in obedience to Jesus' prayer that we may be one that the world may believe.

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