Methodists strengthen links with Church of England at annual conference

Methodists strengthen links with Church of England at annual conference

One of the highlights of this year’s Methodist Church Conference in Southport, England, which ends tomorrow, has been a discussion of ways to strengthen cooperation with the Church of England.

“The Anglican-Methodist Covenant of 2003, which aims at enhancing unity between the two churches, was discussed, and on the final day, delegates plan to examine an ecumenical report on the subject of greater co-operation,” said Anna Drew, a Methodist spokesperson. “That will mean the Methodist Church changing various standing orders, similar to the Church of England’s canon laws, in order for it to implement the Covenant.”

On June 16 this year, the Church of England’s communications office released a statement saying the Joint Implementation Commission (JIC) established under the Covenant recommended the two churches share their mission and their ministry more widely.

“There are parts of England where you can see real cooperation between the two churches; Cumbria is a very good example,” said Drew.

Cooperation has also met with success in Kent, the southern English county where forty years ago the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Michael Ramsey, promoted unity.

“Anything that enlivens our ecumenical spirit is good and excellent,” said the Rev. Hugh-Nigel Sheehan, a Methodist minister who works alongside a Church of England rector in Sturry, near Canterbury.

“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,” said JIC chair Professor Peter Howdle.

The Anglican-Methodist Covenant was signed on November 1, 2003, putting the two churches on a path of deeper relationship and mutual trust. The role of the JIC is to monitor and promote the implementation of the Covenant.

By Trevor Grundy, Ecumenical News International

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