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Anglican-Methodist union

17 May 2013

THE full interchangeability of ministry between the Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland was now a real possibility, the General Synod was told by the Dean of Cork, the Very Revd Nigel Dunne.

Proposing the report of the Covenant Council, he said that significant progress had been made in the past year, including Local Covenant Partnerships and Projects. The signing of such a covenant at Queen's University, Belfast, had been a high point.

They had now arrived at the point where the Methodist Conference had put in place all necessary changes to bring about the full interchangeability of ministry between the two traditions.

"It is our turn to follow through with the necessary legislation to allow the full implementation of what was presented to General Synod in the Council's Second Interim Statement in 2011," he said.

"The Council believes that bringing about the full interchangeability of ministry is a vital step on the road to full organic unity, the ultimate goal of the Covenant, and will greatly enrich the life and witness of our Churches for the future."

The Revd Ken Lindsay, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, welcomed the growing Covenant relationship that was evolving between the two Churches. He said that they were setting the scene for the wider Church and community to travel the road together and try to prevent schisms growing.

"We have many challenges ahead, and we have to try to bring people with us on all sides. But I believe we have a stronger future together," he said.

The Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Richard Clarke, said that the proposal allowing for the introduction of a special Bill at Synod 2014 might be the most significant thing done at this Synod: "We are blazing a trail for other Churches."

Canon Ian Ellis said that ecumenism had come a long way, to the point at which today they could not conceive of life on their own as a Church. "Any such days are now over for any Church," he said.

The report of the Covenant Council was received by the Synod.

Voting on the motion took place by orders, and was resoundingly passed. The Bill has been given leave to be introduced next year. It has received its first reading.

A related motion - Motion 21 - urging that the General Synod continue to encourage congregations to celebrate the Covenant relationship with neighbouring Methodist congregations on or around 26 September each year, was carried.

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