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British Methodists Say 'Yes' to Closer Relationships with Anglicans

( [email protected] ) Jul 04, 2003 01:24 PM EDT

British Methodists said 'yes' to make closer partnership with Anglicans, UMNS reported on 2 July.

UMNS reported that this partnership will make a better way for both denominations to recognize each other's ministers and liturgical practice as well as share resources, facilities and decision-making structures.

The vote was held on 1 July at the annual British Methodist Conference. It also reflects the results of a churchwide canvas of individual congregations in Wales and England, in which 75% of those responding voiced support for the covenant.

The Church of England officially votes to accept or reject the covenant on July 13 but already 90% in a similar canvas of Anglicans favored closer ties with Methodists.

However, there are some opposed voices about the positive signs of closer relationship between the two. The reason is some different policies that each has, which might bring tension and conflict. For example, British Methodists allows clergywomen to participate in any part of the life and leadership of teh denomination, while the Church of England still bans women to be in significant roles and doesn't recognize women as bishops.

During more than four hours of debate leading up to the vote, one Methodist clergyman, Christian Jones said "once local Anglican collegues told me that they believe my ordination was invalid so that they would not recognize my ministry. This differences are so academic but they affects the practice, structures and the nature of pastoral care."

"This covenant will open up the real possibility of working together in mission and service locally, regionally and nationally," said Rev. John Walker, co-chairman of the Methodist/Anglican Joint Liaison Group.

In fact there are already signs of partnership appearing. Methodists and Anglicans share buildings, clergy and resources as local ecumenical partnerships.

Also a proposal in 1972 found Methodists voting 'yes' to unity with Anglicans but Anglicans, the Church of England, said 'no' at the last minute.

Anglican bishop Ian Cundy emphasized that this covenant is not a takeover scheme but an equal partnership. "So trying to solve all the problems of difference is a mistake."

The Rev. Bruce Robbins, the top staff executive of the United Methodist Church's ecumenical relations agency in New York, welcomed the vote and said he hope more would be accomplished.

"But the disappointment is that the covenant won't move us far enough to enable recognition of ministry or shared Eucharist. Patience has been ecumenical watchword. We have been perpetually challenging the ecumenical movement," he said.