Moving Forward in Covenant

The Methodist Church and the Church of England should work moreclosely together in their local communities, according to a newreport from representatives of both Churches.

The Joint Implementation Commission, set up under theAnglican-Methodist Covenant of 2003, is recommending that the twoChurches should share their mission and ministry more widely. Itsnew interim report Moving Forward in Covenant, due to be consideredby both the Methodist Conference and the General Synod in July,urges Methodists and Anglicans to join forces on the ground in amore far-reaching way than ever before.

Professor Peter Howdle, Co-Chair of the Joint ImplementationCommission, said: "Moving Forward in Covenant contains somesignificant material. First, it summarises where both our Churchescurrently are regarding their 2003 Covenant and states wherefurther progress needs to be made in order to move towards closercommunion. Secondly, it includes an important development byproposing the establishing of 'Covenant Partnerships in ExtendedAreas'.

"This is a result of innovative thinking using the currentregulations of both our Churches. It will allow an increase inshared ministry in many places where both Churches should and couldbe acting together which can only enhance the missionary imperativeof the covenant relationship. I am encouraged by the positivecomments we have received about 'Covenant Partnerships in ExtendedAreas' as we have developed this idea and I think it is an excitingway forward. I hope both Churches will receive it in this light aswe seek to move closer together."

"Looking back to 2003 there is no doubt in my mind that therelationship between The Church of England and The Methodist Churchof Great Britain is closer and that our Covenant has been apositive influence on ecumenism in the UK."

The report suggests that Anglican parish churches and Methodistlocal churches should work together closely through CovenantedPartnerships over wider areas. Covenanted Partnerships alreadyexist in many places. The suggestion now is that greater numbers ofMethodist local churches or circuits and Church of England parishesenter Partnerships that encompass wider geographical areas. Wherethe bishop, parish authorities and the appropriate MethodistCircuit and District authorities give permission, larger areascould benefit from shared ministry, so enabling a strategicapproach to the deployment of Anglican clergy and Methodistministers across all communities.

The report explains how Covenanted Partnerships in Extended Areaswould relate to the existing law and rules of both Churches andgives guidance on good practice in implementing them. It recognisesthat they may not be appropriate in every area and that not allparts of the Church will move at the same speed.

The proposals are being referred to the relevant bodies in bothChurches as part of a consultation process

The full report is available online here: www.methodistconference.org.uk/media/48508/moving%20forward%20in%20covenant%202011.pdf