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Covenant for “historical cousins” – the Methodist Church and the Church of England – moves forward

Posted on: July 12, 2019 3:01 PM
Bishop Christopher Cocksworth addresses the Church of England's General Synod
Photo Credit: Church of England

[ACNS by Rachel Farmer] Despite an amendment to slow down the process, the Church of England’s General Synod has agreed a series of motions to take forward its Covenant with the Methodist Church in Britain to allow interchangeability of ministries and intercommunion between the two Churches.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, told the General Synod: “I for one am profoundly committed to moving forward in this matter, for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of the Church and for the sake of the world we are sent to serve.”

The Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth, who led the General Synod debate, told members that they had a “historic opportunity” before them.

He said: “my prayer is that we will make a clear and well-informed decision with full awareness of its implications not only for our relationship with the Methodist Church, our close historical cousin and covenant partner, but also for the credibility of the commitments of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion have made for 100 years to restore the unity of the Body of Christ.”

Synod members voted in favour of starting work on drafting a series of texts including a formal declaration of a new relationship of communion between the two churches. But an amendment from the Archdeacon of Southwark, Jane Steen, removed all references to legislation. Dr Steen told the synod that they needed the right words in the right time.

The House of Bishops has been asked to report back on progress on the texts, after the elections to the new General Synod which are due to take place next year. The texts would include inaugural services to mark this new relationship and practical guidelines on how ministers from each church could serve in the other.

Speaking in the debate, the Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, told the General Synod: “this is all about mission, visible unity, that the world may believe is quite simply a gospel imperative.”

A priest from the Diocese of Leeds, Joyce Jones, said: “our unity is vital for our mission. If people see our two churches separately then they won’t see Christ easily. If they see us loving one another and working together to serve Christ, they are more likely to be drawn to faith.”