The continuing work of the Episcopal Church-United Methodist Dialogue Committee. The Committee met in Washington, DC, earlier this month, and have released a communique on their progress towards Full Communion.
… Reports related to current events in both denominations were shared by members of the group. All members expressed their continued prayers for The United Methodist Council of Bishops’ Commission on a Way Forward.
The principal tasks of the dialogue group for this meeting were to review responses from members of both churches to the January 2017 document A Gift to the World: Co-Laborers for the Healing of Brokenness: A Proposal for Full Communion and to plan for the future consideration of this proposal by each church’s legislative body. The committee is working to design a series of regional conversations between United Methodists and Episcopalians related to this proposal. They will also seek to develop a series of communications celebrating the close relationship between our denominations, highlighting the practical and missional opportunities that a full communion agreement would foster.
The group also reviewed and revised a document of Frequently Asked Questions about the full communion proposal. This material will be available online in the short term.
Finally, the dialogue committee was dismayed that once again our meeting took place in the wake of yet another mass shooting. Events of mass violence in our world are so frequent that it almost feels inevitable that each time we meet there will be another atrocity to mourn, more victims to commend to God’s eternal care, additional communities in need of prayers for healing, reconciliation, and peace. …
Since 2002, The Episcopal Church and The United Methodist Church have been engaged in bilateral dialogue, setting full communion as the goal. We understand the relationship we seek as follows:
Full communion is understood as a relationship between two distinct ecclesiastical bodies in which each maintains its own autonomy while recognizing the catholicity and apostolicity of the other, and believing the other to hold the essentials of the Christian faith. In such a relationship, communicant members of each would be able freely to communicate at the altar of the other, and ordained ministers may officiate sacramentally in either church. Specifically, this includes transferability of members, mutual recognition and interchangeability of ministries, mutual enrichment by one another’s traditions of hymnody and patterns of liturgy, freedom to participate in each other’s ordinations and installations of clergy, including bishops, and structures for consultation to express, strengthen, and enable our common life, witness, and service, to the glory of God and the salvation of the world.
We seek to draw closer in mission and ministry, grounded in sufficient agreement in the essentials of Christian faith and order and assisted by interchangeability of ordained ministries. We are not seeking a merger of our churches, nor a relationship that would imply such a goal in future, being convinced that we are already united in the catholic church of Christ Jesus in which we are uniquely formed to share in the mission of God in the world. We are blessed in that neither of our churches, or their predecessor bodies, have officially condemned one another, nor have they formally called into question the faith, the ministerial orders, or the sacraments of the other church.
The Dialogue continues next April, in Chicago.
Featured image: from the Committee’s Communique; Communiqué prepared by Mr. Richard J. Mammana and the Rev. Dr. Kyle Tau; group photography by Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga, Director of Communications for The United Methodist Council of Bishops.