Commission shows how Methodists and Anglicans can work together more

15 June 2011

by Ed Thornton

THE Joint Implementation Commis­sion (JIC) for the Anglican-Metho­dist Covenant has proposed the establishment of “Covenant Partner­ships in Extended Areas” (CPEA) to provide “a greatly en­hanced form of shared ministry” between the two Churches.

Its interim report Moving Forward in Covenant, published this week, says that “full and further implementation of the Covenant” has been delayed by both Churches’ being “preoccupied in recent years with ostensibly internal issues”.

It says that “while the Church of England’s process regarding female bishops continues and while there is no clear outcome within the Methodist Church with regard to episcopacy, there is inevitably a sense of hiatus in the structural imple­mentation of the Covenant.”

Given these “concerns and un­resolved issues”, it proposes that “a deeper implementation of the Covenant” can be achieved through the establishment of CPEAs.

A CPEA is a form of “shared ministry” in which “ministers of either church can support the wor­ship and outreach of the other”. A CPEA “falls short of” and “is not the same as” interchangeability of minis­tries. “CPEAs apply what is permitted under the rules of both Churches to an area wider than the Anglican parish or Methodist local church, extending the provisions to Circuits and deaneries, even in principle to a whole diocese or district, as long as the clergy and people in each place are willing to participate.”

The report says that a CPEA would be “made by the bishop of the diocese and the appropriate authority of the Methodist Church establishing a local ecumenical partnership within the whole, or part of the area of the dio­cese and the appropriate Methodist circuits”.

It considers that, “without the interchangeability of ordained minis­tries, the provisions of Canons B 43 and B 44 represent the furthest the Church of England can go in sharing sacramental ministry with the Metho­dist Church. But the mutual affirmations of the Anglican-Methodist Covenant have changed the context in which the Ecumenical Canons can be applied.”

They enable, it says, extended possibilities “without compromising the integrity of either party”.

In a CPEA, “the provisions of Canon B 44 enable all Methodist presbyters to be authorised to baptise according to the use of the Church of England (subject to the agreement of the parties concerned), and to preside at services of Holy Communion in Church of England places of worship as part of the normal schedule of worship throughout the area.”

The provisions of Canon B 43 en­able Methodist presbyters “to exercise a ministry of the word and to conduct funerals . . . in Church of England places of worship” but not “to conduct weddings according to the rites of Church of England, because of the legal positions of the two churches in these matters”, the report says.

Professor Peter Howdle, who co-chairs the JIC, said that the report was “a result of innovative thinking using the current regulations of both our Churches”.

The full text of the report is available below.

Full text of report (PDF)

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