Yorkshire churches enter groundbreaking partnership

A new and groundbreaking regional partnership in Yorkshirebetween the Church of England and Methodist Church will beinaugurated this Saturday.

The agreement between the Leeds Methodist District and the Riponand Leeds Anglican Diocese will be signed at a special celebrationat Trinity Methodist Church in Harrogate on 6 October. It will leadto greater sharing of clergy, more joint services, working togetherto support mission and ministry and greater consultation overfuture deployment of staff and resources throughout theregion.

Under the Covenant Area Partnership - the first of its kind inGreat Britain - there will be greater consultation and co-operationbetween 85 Anglican parishes and their 65 neighbouring Methodistchurches.

"The lives of both Churches have already been greatly enriched byour determination to work, worship and grow together," said theRevd Julian Pursehouse, Acting Chair of the Leeds MethodistDistrict. "The new Covenant Area Partnership is a fantasticopportunity to reaffirm our commitment to one another and to liveout our calling to serve our communities in a more dynamic andcoherent way."

Methodist ministers in this area will be encouraged to apply forpermission to minister in Church of England parishes and Anglicanclergy will be encouraged to apply for 'Associate Presbyter' statuswith the Methodist Church. For example, an Anglican priest would beable to preside at Methodist services of Holy Communion andbaptism, and at funeral services.

The two Churches will also seek to involve one another in theirprocedures of appointing new ministers, clergy and staff throughoutthe Covenant Area.

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, said thepartnership was an important opportunity for the two churches:"This marks an important step for the diocese and the LeedsMethodist District. It will encourage us to strive for closerconnection with other churches, both together as well asseparately. We hope that through our own working more closelytogether, we will also be able to encourage unity between otherchurches."

"Christ calls us to unity with one another, but that doesn't meanuniformity," added the Revd Dr Mark Wakelin, President of theMethodist Conference, who will be present at Saturday's ceremony."It will be a privilege to share in celebrating the gifts andheritage of both Churches, while looking to a more fruitful andexciting future together."

In 2003, a national Covenant between the Methodist Church inBritain and the Church of England was signed by the Archbishops ofCanterbury and York, the Secretary General of the General Synod,the President, Vice-President and Secretary of the MethodistConference in the presence of the Queen.

Find out more about the Anglican Methodist Covenant here.