Thursday, 16 June 2011

Moving Forward in Covenant

The latest report from the Joint Implementation Commission under the Covenant between the Methodist Church of Great Britain and The Church of England has been released.

The two churches have issued a joint press release (here and here), which is copied below the fold.

The report is due to be debated at the Methodist Conference and the Church of England General Synod next month.

The Methodist Church has made the full report available for download: Moving Forward in Covenant.

Moving Forward in Covenant

The Methodist Church and the Church of England should work more closely together in their local communities, according to a new report from representatives of both Churches.

The Joint Implementation Commission, set up under the Anglican-Methodist Covenant of 2003, is recommending that the two Churches should share their mission and ministry more widely. Its new interim report Moving Forward in Covenant, due to be considered by both the Methodist Conference and the General Synod in July, urges Methodists and Anglicans to join forces on the ground in a more far-reaching way than ever before.

Professor Peter Howdle, Co-Chair of the Joint Implementation Commission, said: “Moving Forward in Covenant contains some significant material. First, it summarises where both our Churches currently are regarding their 2003 Covenant and states where further progress needs to be made in order to move towards closer communion. Secondly, it includes an important development by proposing the establishing of ‘Covenant Partnerships in Extended Areas’.

“This is a result of innovative thinking using the current regulations of both our Churches. It will allow an increase in shared ministry in many places where both Churches should and could be acting together which can only enhance the missionary imperative of the covenant relationship. I am encouraged by the positive comments we have received about ‘Covenant Partnerships in Extended Areas’ as we have developed this idea and I think it is an exciting way forward. I hope both Churches will receive it in this light as we seek to move closer together.”

“Looking back to 2003 there is no doubt in my mind that the relationship between The Church of England and The Methodist Church of Great Britain is closer and that our Covenant has been a positive influence on ecumenism in the UK.

The report suggests that Anglican parish churches and Methodist local churches should work together closely through Covenanted Partnerships over wider areas. Covenanted Partnerships already exist in many places. The suggestion now is that greater numbers of Methodist local churches or circuits and Church of England parishes enter Partnerships that encompass wider geographical areas. Where the bishop, parish authorities and the appropriate Methodist Circuit and District authorities give permission, larger areas could benefit from shared ministry, so enabling a strategic approach to the deployment of Anglican clergy and Methodist ministers across all communities.

The report explains how Covenanted Partnerships in Extended Areas would relate to the existing law and rules of both Churches and gives guidance on good practice in implementing them. It recognises that they may not be appropriate in every area and that not all parts of the Church will move at the same speed.

The proposals are being referred to the relevant bodies in both Churches as part of a consultation process.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 12:00pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Perhaps I'm just a rancid old stuck-in-the-mud Anglo-Catholic, but the hype doesn't seem to match the reality on the ground here a few miles from the birthplace of Methodism. We've had 30 years of a 'pioneering scheme' for Anglican-Methodist ecumenism which completely failed to engage the enthusiasm of more than a few die-hards, delivered next to nothing and diverted attention from engaging with RCs and with other denominations because all felt we were 'doing ecumenism'.

Advertising a service as 'Joint Anglican/Methodist' seems to have the effect of reducing attendance. Our joint deanery/circuit meetings seem to be about having an hour of anodyne 'Polyfilla' input so as not to upset anyone. Maybe this is just Typical Apathetic Lincolnshire - but are there any genuine positive stories out there? Other than the artfully spun ones?

Posted by: david rowett on Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 1:00pm BST

The key to this is the ministry aspect mentioned: spreading around and reorganising ministers across many (often very many) churches. In the end the need for rationalisation, as Methodist numbers fall very rapidly, will simply cause the Methodists to merge back into the Church of England, if the Church of England can arrange a few Methodist-like services on a Sunday morning for a time period.

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 3:23pm BST

It's good to hear that things are continuing to progress at the formal/institutional level. However, it's important to remember that the best work is done when churches work together to address needs in their communities, rather than 'doing ecumenism' as David Rowett puts it. Joint services had an important role when we were breaking down barriers of hostility and prejudice, but as my wife puts it we need fewer services and more service. Street Pastors, projects addressing homelessness and poverty are but two great examples of where we are "better together". If we get stuck thinking about joint worship, then anodyne polyfilla may well be our fate.

Posted by: Mike Peatman on Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 3:57pm BST

"England and America are two countries separated by a common language." - George Bernard Shaw

Here I am, across the Pond, in the middle of the continent, and I read "polyfilla". It sounds vaguely Latin or Greek, vaguely religious, and I know that "poly" means "many", and "filla" looks like it could mean "sons or daughters", so I got this warm fuzzy feeling that there are many sons and daughters in the Body of Christ. Quite ecumenical.
Except it didn't seem to fit the context. So I looked it up in Google -- and laughed at myself.
Anodyne polyfilla can be found in many places, indeed!
Thank you, Messrs Rowett and Peatman

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 6:59pm BST

I think this is good example of practical ecumenism, and the unity of these two great liberal Protestant communions is a good idea.

It further dilutes the attempt by Anglo catholics to pretend the Church of England stands in the Catholic tradition.

Like the inception of the Church of South India, it could make us a few more converts.

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 11:24pm BST

'it could make us a few more converts'

Sorry, RIW - I know you're bound by Apostolicæ Curæ, but we aren't (and the repeated moving of goalposts since AC by your hierarchs suggests that they don't really believe in its formulations either). Consequently, the sacraments are validly celebrated within the Anglican set-up, consequently there is no need to 'convert' on your hypothesis until the Anglican communion worldwide not only 'does a Jensen' but manages to kill off everyone like me.... Don't wait up!

Naturally you don't believe that, but since this isn't Vatican Radio, there's probably no great need for you to go into an explanation of why we're all wrong in the first place. I'm afraid I just don't accept your a prioris: if I did I'd have converted already.

Posted by: david rowett on Friday, 17 June 2011 at 10:52am BST

"Like the inception of the Church of South India, it could make us a few more converts."

Who's/whose "us"?

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 17 June 2011 at 7:30pm BST

Now that's an example of David Rowett infallibility.Thanks for your clarity.

Posted by: Robert ian williams on Saturday, 18 June 2011 at 11:00pm BST

It could make us a few more converts"

Yes few is the word....despite the huffing and puffing the number that went over because of the South India scheme was miniscule ( see Michael Yelton's recent book published by the Anglo-Catholic History Society)..and a mixed bunch they were. You have netted a few more with the Ordinariate Robert...but again "few" is the word..and I suspect some of the laity will drift back ,as they did after 1993.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Sunday, 19 June 2011 at 8:56am BST

"I suspect some of the laity will drift back ,as they did after 1993."

It wasn't only laity who drifted back after 1993......

Posted by: david rowett on Wednesday, 22 June 2011 at 11:36am BST

During my youth in the 1960's in South Africa, a lot of work was done by young lay people at a local /parish level for worship and Fellowship between Methodists and Anglicans. Many Anglican clergy in my neighbourhood, did everything to stop any activities with the local Methodists,one even threatening me with ex-communication, resulting in many Anglicans leaving to join the Methodists.
With disillusioned Anglo catholics in the Cof E and other parts of the Communion leaving to 'cross the Tiber' into the Ordinariate, many will say that current efforts to bring the C of E and Methodists together is an effort to "save" the C of E. Not so.
The Wesley brothers were Anglican priests until their dying day.It was their followers who separated themselves from the C of E.
Take a look at any hymnal (even those used in Roman and Anglo catholic circles) and you'll see the contribution made to Christianity as a whole by these two individuals.
The Church worldwide is all the better for it.
In my own country, many Methodists worked towards the abolition of Apartheid together with Anglican, Roman catholic and other Christians.
Moving forward in a covenant which will hopefully bring Anglicans and Methodists together can only be welcomed.
After all, "The Church's One Foundation is Jesus Christ Her Lord"
Surely bringing God's people together is "Good News" in action, demonstarting that there is "On Lord, One faith , One Baptism, One God and Father of all..."
With the current demise within the Anglican Communion today, surely this development is something positive and should not be spurned by the cynics?
(Incidently, I'm from an Anglo catholic background, but Eccumenical at heart!)
God Bless you.
Fr Michael (Philippines)

Posted by: Father Michael on Saturday, 9 July 2011 at 7:40am BST
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