The Church of England and the Methodist Church: updated

On 9 February, the Church of England’s General Synod voted in favour of a motion welcoming the joint report, Mission and Ministry in Covenant, co-written by the two Churches’ faith and order bodies and published last year, setting out proposals on how clergy from each Church could become eligible to serve in the other. This updated post includes the text of the motion as finally agreed.

The motion acknowledged that there was further work to do to clarify a number of areas, including how the proposals would be worked out in practice, and called on the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission to update Synod on this work at its next group of sessions in July. An amendment to the motion expressed the “confident hope” that outstanding issues could be resolved quickly.

Opening the debate, the Bishop of Coventry, The Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, Chair of the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission, said that the proposals would be a step towards “healing a tragic division in the Church of England” when the two Churches separated almost 200 years ago. At the invitation of the Presidents, the Revd Ruth Gee (Chair of the Darlington District and President of Methodist Conference 2013-14) and the Revd Gareth Powell (Secretary of the Methodist Conference) addressed the Synod under Standing Order 120.

Overall, the voting was as follows:

  • House of Bishops: 35 for, two against, no abstentions.
  • House of Clergy: 131 for, 23 against, 13 abstentions.
  • House of Laity: 124 for, 34 against, 11 abstentions.

The motion, as amended, was carried as follows:

“That this Synod:

(a) welcome the report Mission and Ministry in Covenant (GS 2086), produced by the faith and order bodies of the Church of England and the Methodist Church in response to resolutions passed by the General Synod and the Methodist Conference in 2014;

(b) call on the Faith and Order Commission to report back to the Synod at the next group of sessions on work carried out jointly with the Methodist Church to address the areas for further reflection outlined at paragraphs 26-29 of the covering note from the Faith and Order Commission to GS 2086;

(c) invite the Faith and Order Commission, in consultation with the Methodist Church, to explore and elucidate further the relationship between episcopal ordination and eucharistic presidency, as this touches on the full visible unity of our two Churches; and

(d) affirm its confident hope that any outstanding issues between our Churches may be resolved quickly and satisfactorily and look forward to the day when, on the basis of work already completed and accepted, our ministries will be fully reconciled.”

The Church of England and the Methodist Church have each issued Press Releases, here and here.

[With thanks to Stephen Slack.]

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