The Church of England and the Methodist Church moving closer to unity

  • Download the JIC report here

The Joint Implementation Commission (JIC) of the Church ofEngland and Methodist Church in Britain has called for "Churchleaders and decision-making bodies to make the Covenant a priorityin order to bring our Churches closer together in mission andholiness."

In a major report published this week the JIC calls onboth Churches to consider the impact that the 10-year-old AnglicanMethodist Covenant has made on their relationship; to rejoice inthe progress that has been made and to face together the challengesof mission.   

The report, entitled:  "The Challenge of theCovenant: Uniting in Mission and Holiness", provides numerousexamples of where the Churches have worked well together over thepast 10 years, including areas of education, ethical investment,mission, theological education, safeguarding and Fresh Expressions.There are now 533 local ecumenical partnerships between Anglicansand Methodists across the country. However, the report alsoidentifies a number of continuing challenges, such as the need forfurther collaboration, consultation and decision making at bothnational and local levels. 

In setting out new ways of future working, a Quick Guideto the Report urges: "Church leaders and decision-making bodies tomake the Covenant a priority in order to bring our churches closertogether". It also expresses the need for "local Anglicans andMethodists to worship and work together more closely to make theCovenant 'real'." It states that: "We are called to holiness and tobe sent on mission in the world. Our unity is an essential part ofthat. When we are not one ..... our faith and mission are seriouslycompromised".

Jointly launching the report today, Professor PeterHowdle, the Methodist Co-Chair of the JIC, said: "We are pleased topresent this Report. The JIC sees many signs that the Covenantbetween our two Churches has strengthened during this period.However, there is still a long way to go before our two churchesare acting, and are seen as acting, together in visible unity forthe mission of the church.

"I believe both churches will need to act ever moregraciously towards each other as they seek to overcome theobstacles which prevent a deepening of our Covenant relationship.Our Report challenges our churches to greater efforts in theirsearch for this visible unity. "

The Church of England Co-Chair, the Bishop of Coventry,the Rt Revd. Christopher Cocksworth said: "John Wesley'spassion and project to 'reform the nation...and to spreadscriptural holiness over the land' is in urgent need of renewal.This important Report challenges the Church of England and theMethodist Church to work wherever possible in common purpose and totake definite steps towards a common life in Christ, and in hisministry and mission. "

The report notes the outstanding questions preventing evencloser working and highlights the JIC's hopes that progress towardsvisible unity in mission and holiness will not involve one Churchbeing absorbed by the other. "We have common roots and sharedhistory," states the Quick Guide. "Yet we are very differentculturally and structurally. We do not match each other in the wayswe are organised. These difficulties are sometimes the source ofmisunderstanding and frustration, but they can also be the sourceof much enrichment and rejoicing." 

The JIC is inviting feedback on the findings of thereport. Over the next few months, the various national andconnexional bodies of the two Churches will be reflecting on theReport in order to discern how to move forward into the next phaseof the Covenant journey. Comments and submissions are being invitedby 31 January 2014.  The JIC will then bring proposals for thenext phase of implementation of the Covenant to the General Synodand the Methodist Conference in July 2014.  

The JIC report: "The Challenge of the Covenant: Uniting inMission and Holiness" , the Quick Guide and a Draft Report to theMethodist Conference and the General Synod in 2014 is available fordownload here.