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 ofCanterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said he wanted to see the Church ofEngland and Methodist communities growing much closertogether. 

In a 40-minute address to the Conference in Portsmouth'sGuildhall, the Archbishop contrasted the roles of the apostlesPeter and Paul in the Church, and what the contemporary Churchcould learn from them.

In a further 40-minute session, the Archbishop took a wide rangeof questions. Dr Williams was asked what risks the Church ofEngland was taking in relation to the Covenant with the MethodistChurch.

"The answer is not a lot," Dr Williams replied. "We are beinginvited, in the short to middle term, to work out flexibility onmodels of 'dual nationality'; that is, how two communities with twodifferent histories can develop some genuine overlappinglife."

Dr Williams also answered a question as to whether a Covenantrelationship between Anglicans and Methodists was exclusive. "Acovenant ought to be a friendship written down," he said. "Itdoesn't mean there are no other friendships. If it becomes usagainst them; a little friendship against the world, well, God helpus really."

"Any act of reconciliation has to be mutual; Anglican clergy atevery level accepting the ministry of those they are beingreconciled with."

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