Methodist Conference debates Covenant challenges

Today, the annual Methodist Conference has received thesecond report from the Joint Implementation Commission (JIC). TheJIC monitors and promotes the implementation of theAnglican-Methodist Covenant which was signed in November 2003between the Methodist Church and the Church of England.

The report, entitled 'Living God's Covenant', records someencouragements and some disappointments and looks forward bothrealistically and hopefully.

There are many ways in which the Covenant is being lived-out at agrass-roots level, with much sharing in mission and ministry bymembers of both churches. Ten regional workshops that were heldduring 2006 involved around 600 people and offered a useful pictureof attitudes to the Covenant and the capacity of the two churchesto engage in mission.

Revd Peter Sulston, Coordinating Secretary for Unity in Mission forthe Methodist Church and co-convenor of the JIC, says 'This reportis very encouraging and there is clearly a lot of good work goingon, with Anglicans and Methodists sharing in worship and mission,caring for each other and serving their communities. But there isstill much more to be done. The passion for mission and evangelismexpressed by both churches is a powerful driver for covenantliving. We hope the recommendations of this report will strengthenthat commitment and help us to make the most of the gifts andresources of our two churches.'

'Living God's Covenant' also draws attention to areas where morework needs to be done to achieve unity, such as increasing anawareness of the Covenant and encouraging ownership of jointinitiatives in local settings. While much work remains to be doneit encourages both churches to do more to use existingopportunities to share in ministry and in mission and evangelism inevery part of both churches.

The report also suggests that The Methodist Church and the Churchof England should consult together on the shape of a reformed Houseof Lords and consider making a joint submission to theGovernment.

A further report in 2008 will seek to say more about the concreteform that the unity the churches seek might take.