Anglicans and Methodists see “significant work” ahead

Anglicans and Methodists see “significant work” ahead

Anglicans and Methodists must do “significant work” on issues of the interchangeability of ordained ministries and the ministry of oversight if they are to reach the goal of fuller communion, according to a communiqué issued following a meeting of representatives of the two churches.

Members of the Anglican-Methodist International Commission for Unity in Mission (AMICUM), who met from February 11 to 17 in Cape Town, South Africa, wrote in the communiqué that at this third meeting of the commission that there was an obvious need to “identify and begin to tackle some of the issues that are at the heart of our present denominational divisions.”

Those divisions and their root causes are not always being named in the churches worldwide, the communiqué added.

The Cape Town conference was the latest step in Anglican-Methodist relations, which were borne out of the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops in 1988. At that time, the World Methodist Council accepted an invitation from the Anglican bishops to begin formal conversations. That invitation was followed by the publication of the report of the Anglican-Methodist International Commission, Sharing in Apostolic Communion, which was received by the Seventeenth World Methodist Conference in 1996 and the Lambeth Conference in 1998.

In addition to the international commission’s work, the meeting heard updates about bilateral conversations between the two churches in the United States, England, Ireland, and New Zealand; in Canada and Australia, the discussions take place between Anglicans and the United or Uniting churches.

The commission also listened to the experience of two United Churches: the Church of South India and the Church of North India.

In their communiqué, commission members noted that a visit to South Africa’s infamous Robben Island (which was used as a prison for political prisoners and anti-apartheid activists, including Nelson Mandela) helped them reflect on “the courage, conviction and determination” of those who had fought against apartheid and had then set about a process of truth and reconciliation.

“The Commission was left in no doubt of the need to be honest with each other if the painful divisions that deny the Gospel call to unity are to be overcome,” said the communiqué.

The Commission, whose members come from Australia, Ghana, the U.S., Malaysia, England, Ireland, Brazil, Jamaica, South Africa and India, will next meet in February 2012 in the United States.

Leanne Larmondin, ENI

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