12 December 2001

Methodist Co-Chairman of Anglican-Methodist Formal Conversations on the new report

12 December 2001

Methodist Co-Chairman of Anglican-Methodist Formal Conversations on the new report

The Methodist Co-chairman of the Formal Conversations, Rev Dr John B Taylor, made the following statement upon the publication of 'An Anglican-Methodist Covenant':

"Like many who will read this report I am disappointed that it does not go a lot further than it does. It does, however, achieve the purpose for which our joint Commission was set up. We were given a limited agenda - we had no authority to go further than the remit given to us by the Methodist Conference and the General Synod of the Church of England - and we believe that our Conversations have come to a satisfactory conclusion. What will happen through the Recommendations of our Report is something that has never happened before. It will provide a solid basis on which future steps in the process of our growth together can take place.

"Never before have we officially mutually affirmed the life and ministry of the other. For years those working in Local Ecumenical Partnerships have been urging the Churches at the national level to get their act together so that many of the things people locally want to do can happen with the sanction of the wider Church Body.

"As has often been the case at grass-roots level Christians in their local communities have led the way wondering what all the fuss is about. Why can't they just get on and do so many of the things they feel no problem about doing? For years they have recognized each other as true Christians. It is therefore no big deal that the Church

of England and the Methodist Church should at last be able to recognize each other officially. Yet in terms of our national Churches this report takes a major and significant step that will make wider things possible.

"Often in past Conversations reports have tried to produce statements which were sufficiently nuanced - not to say, ambiguous - to be susceptible to different interpretations. This report makes no attempt to conceal our differences. There are still significant areas of disagreement between us.

"There are many unresolved issues. This report does not try to gloss over them. It rather resolves that the vast list of things that still separate us should be the ongoing agenda for continuing, open and frank discussion. The compilers of this report do not want to fudge issues but face them together - as we believe - for our mutual enrichment.

"Because the Methodist Church began its life as a movement within the Church of England, it can, we believe, be a bridge-denomination between the Catholic and the Reformed traditions. We have valued the participation of the URC, the Baptists and the Moravians in our conversations. Once the Methodist Conference and the General Synod have endorsed the proposed process of growing together between our two Churches it is our profound hope that other Church traditions may be able to join us on the way which this Report makes possible."

Rev Dr John B Taylor

Note: Rev Dr John Taylor has been Chairman of the Liverpool Methodist District since 1995. He was President of the Methodist Conference in Britain in 1997/8.

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