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Church of England and English Methodists try again for a closer relationship

Church of England and English Methodists try again for a closer relationship

Similar to the proposed agreement between the Episcopal church and the United Methodist Church, Anglicans and Methodists in England are looking for ways to share clergy and work more closely together.  The two churches have been working towards common ground for some time, including a merger proposal in 2010 that fell through.

 

From the Church Times

“NEW plans to make the ministries of the Church of England and the Methodist Church interchangeable were revealed on Tuesday. The plans involve challenges for each Church: the adoption of episcopal ordination by the Methodists, and the temporary acceptance of non-episcopally ordained presbyters by the Anglicans.

The co-chairmen of the group that has drafted the new plans, the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, and the Revd Dr Neil Richardson, a former President of the Methodist Conference, argue that accepting their proposals will “enable a new depth of communion between our Church and enhance our common mission”.

The two Churches have been led to the altar in the past, but impediments proved decisive at the final moment. The latest move is a development from the Anglican-Methodist Covenant made in 2003, and the ratification of recommendations for its further implementation made in 2014 by both the General Synod and the Methodist Conference.

The report by the drafting group, Mission and Ministry in Covenant, “proposes that our Churches are now ready to take a new step towards full visible unity in a relationship of communion with one another. . .”

It states that introducing intercommunion between the two Churches “does not mean structural unity, or an end to our distinctive forms of church polity”. Instead, it proposes a formal declaration of a new stage in the Churches’ relationship. After this, they would “undertake two formal, public commitments: (a) to share the ministry of the historic episcopate as a sign of the apostolicity of the Church of God; (b) to welcome all presbyters/priests serving in either Church as eligible to serve in both Churches”.”

Read the rest here

A statement from the Church of England commends the report to serious consideration, saying that if approved, this would heal a breach that should never have occurred in the first place.

The report sets out a way by which the Methodist Church would become one of the churches with which the Church of England is officially in communion, alongside other members of the Anglican Communion and Lutheran churches in the Porvoo Communion.

The Bishop of Coventry, The Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, Chair of the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission, said: “I am grateful to the joint working group for their careful but imaginative work on bringing forward a workable plan for enabling interchangeability of presbyteral ministry in our two churches.

“The solution is built on the centrality of the historic episcopate and the bishop as minister of ordination.

“The scheme as proposed will enable dioceses, districts and local churches to engage in creative pastoral planning for the good of the mission of God in this country.”

The Bishop of Fulham The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Anglican Co-Chair of the joint working group, said: “The separation between Anglicans and Methodists in Great Britain is a tear in the fabric of the Body of Christ.

“The proposals in this Report are offered as a means of helping to repair that tear.

“They maintain the catholic, episcopal ordering of the church while at the same time acknowledging the real and effective ministry exercised by minsters in the Methodist Church.

“I warmly commend them for prayerful reading in the churches.”

 

You can download the report, Mission and Ministry in Covenant, here (pdf)

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