Methodist Conference asks church members to vote on Anglican-Methodist Covenant

The Methodist Conference has today asked Methodists acrossBritain to decide whether to accept a proposed Covenant between theChurch of England and the Methodist Church.

First published last December, a report of Formal Conversationsof the Methodist Church and the Church of England proposes theCovenant between the two churches. This report is to be consideredby the Church of England General Synod on Saturday 6 July.

The Methodist Conference, meeting this week in Wolverhampton isnow asking Methodist Districts and Circuits to study the report andvote on whether to approve the Anglican-Methodist Covenant.

Responses will be considered by a joint group of Anglicans andMethodists. Unless there is a clear sense from the responses thatthe two Churches will not accept the Covenant, those responses willhelp to frame proposed resolutions to adopt the Covenant in 2003.The General Synod is to be asked to approve the same process forthe Church of England.

The Covenant, if accepted by both churches, would be a mutualaffirmation for the first time of the life and ministry of eachother's churches. It could then be likened to an engagement to bemarried. During the next stage of the growing relationship, bothchurches would strive to remove the remaining obstacles to fullervisible unity.

In the Methodist Conference debate today, the Rev Dr JohnTaylor, Methodist Co-chair of the Formal Conversations, said thatthe Methodist-Anglican Covenant would be "a small step, aninvitation to a pilgrimage to get to know each other. We will haveto recognise diversity but we will have to grasp the nettle onimportant issues so as not to leave the Church with any kind offudge".

Dr Taylor said that among outstanding issues to be resolved bythe two Churches include women's ministry, episcopacy, laypresidency of the eucharist and establishment.

The Covenant will apply to the two Churches in England only,even though the Methodist Church also covers Scotland andWales.

Introduction to An Anglican-MethodistCovenant