29 June 2010

Archbishop of Canterbury says Church of England could take more risks in its Covenant relationship with the Methodist Church

Addressing the annual Methodist Conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said he wanted to see the Church of England and Methodist communities growing much closer together. 

In a 40-minute address to the Conference in Portsmouth's Guildhall, the Archbishop contrasted the roles of the apostles Peter and Paul in the Church, and what the contemporary Church could learn from them.

In a further 40-minute session, the Archbishop took a wide range of questions. Dr Williams was asked what risks the Church of England was taking in relation to the Covenant with the Methodist Church.

"The answer is not a lot," Dr Williams replied. "We are being invited, in the short to middle term, to work out flexibility on models of 'dual nationality'; that is, how two communities with two different histories can develop some genuine overlapping life."

Dr Williams also answered a question as to whether a Covenant relationship between Anglicans and Methodists was exclusive. "A covenant ought to be a friendship written down," he said. "It doesn't mean there are no other friendships. If it becomes us against them; a little friendship against the world, well, God help us really."

"Any act of reconciliation has to be mutual; Anglican clergy at every level accepting the ministry of those they are being reconciled with."

The Methodist Church and the Church of England are in a covenant relationship. On 1 November 2003, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the General Secretary of the General Synod, together with the President, Vice President and Secretary of the Methodist Conference signed the Covenant at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen. The Covenant puts the two Churches on a path of ever-deepening relationships, mutual trust and co-operation on the road to a richer unity.

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