Ten years since signing of historic Anglican-Methodist Covenant

This November will mark ten years since the historicAnglican-Methodist Covenant was signed by the Methodist Church ofGreat Britain and the Church of England. The Methodist Conferencemeeting in Methodist Central Hall, London, today agreed thetimeline for two reports for assessing the progress achievedover this past decade.

The Joint Implementation Commission (JIC) for the AnglicanMethodist Covenant will publish its report with the working title'The Challenge of the Covenant' electronically in September foranyone to read and respond. A draft of a shorter report will besigned off at the same time for more limited circulation. The shortreport will focus on how far the Covenant journey has come and whatthe next steps will be for the two Churches as they move closertogether in unity and mission. The longer report will present allthe material needed to inform the shorter report. Various bodies,including The House of Bishops, the Church of England Council forChristian Unity, the Methodist Council, the Methodist EcumenicalStakeholders' Forum and a joint meeting of the Faith and Orderbodies of both Churches, will be invited to respond as appropriateto either one or, in some cases, both reports by the end of January2014. In the light of responses, a revised version of the shortreport will be brought to the Conference and the General Synod in2014.

Professor Peter Howdle, Co-Chair of the JIC, said: "BishopChristopher Cocksworth, my Anglican Co- Chair, and I are verypleased to offer the two reports which will be published thisautumn. They are the result of a lot of reflection and discussionby the members of the JIC and provide much thoughtful material forour two churches, and our ecumenical partners, as we seek todiscern the way towards the greater unity of our churches. Thereports will ask some challenging questions of our churches abouthow they need to change and adapt for the unity and mission of theChurch. I look forward to the feedback and debates next year in theConference and the General Synod as our two churches respond andexplore the next steps in our pilgrimage together."  

Three years ago, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr RowanWilliams, told the Methodist Conference that he wanted to see theChurch of England and Methodist communities growing much closertogether (see here).  In 2010, the then President of the MethodistConference, the Revd David Gamble, posed the question of how thetwo Churches could respond to the challenges of the 21st century: asociety of different faiths, cultures and histories. 

"Methodists approach the Covenant with the Church of England inthe spirituality of the Covenant prayer," the Revd David Gamblesaid to the Church of England's General Synod in February 2010. "Sowhen we say to God 'let me have all things let me have nothing', wesay it by extension to our partners in the Church of England aswell. In other words, we are prepared to be changed and even tocease having a separate existence as a Church if that will servethe needs of the Kingdom." (See here for the press release in full.)

As a Pastoral Letter to the Methodist People in March 2010 putit: "We have voted consistently over the years for unity schemesthat are designed to increase the whole Church's effectiveness inmission. This is not a death wish, but a desire to be obedient anda willingness to be transformed. We can countenance ceasing toexist as a separate Church because we know that we will still bethe Methodist people within a wider Church. (This) will require notjust us but other churches to be prepared to move forward togetherand to leave some things behind in the process for the sake of theKingdom. So it is not a question of Methodists being submerged orabsorbed in the Church of England or any of our other partners. Itis not a matter of Methodists returning to the Anglican fold, butof seeing whether together we are prepared to become a 'newfold'." 

Full information about Covenant, including its Affirmations and Commitments, and how it is worked out locallycan be found at www.anglican-methodist.org.uk. Please note this website is nowrather dated and there are plans to create a new website for theAnglican-Methodist Covenant.


Notes: 1. Read the Joint Implementation Commission report to theConference here.