Category : Ecumenical Relations

(Cath News NZ) Anglican-Methodist reunion likely

Two matters are of particular concern in relation to reuniting the two churches.

One is whether Methodist presbyters would have to be re-ordained to provide a unified and public catholic witness. The synod report proposes the Anglican Church recognise Methodist ministers’ holy orders.

The other issue is about how churches should be led.

Anglican churches operate under an episcopal model with bishops seen as following on from the apostles, as the Church’s leaders. As bishops consecrate more bishops and ordain new clergy, the “apostolic succession” continues.

Methodists do not accept the idea of “apostolic succession” in the Anglican sense.

If the churches were to reunite, an Anglican bishop would take part in ordaining new Methodist ministers, enabling them to enter the “apostolic succession”.

The Methodist Conference says it is willing to receive the episcopate as long as partner churches acknowledge that the Methodist Church “has been and is part of the one holy catholic and apostolic church”, Ruth Gee, former president of the Methodist conference says.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist

Church of England General Synod welcomes move towards communion with Methodist Church

The General Synod has given its welcome to a report containing proposals which could bring the Church of England and the Methodist Church in Great Britain into communion with each other.
Members backed a motion welcoming a joint report published last year, which sets out proposals on how clergy from each church could become eligible to serve in the other.

The report, Mission and Ministry in Covenant, which was co-written by the two churches’ faith and order bodies, also sets out how the Methodist Church could come to have bishops in the historic episcopate.

The motion acknowledges that there is further work to do to clarify a number of areas, including how the proposals would be worked out in practice.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist

(Christian Today) Diarmaid MacCulloch: ‘Why Anglicans who object to reconciliation with Methodists should read more history’

The point of worry seems to be a break in a succession of hands in ordination from the apostles who were the first followers of Christ. That strikes me as a professional historian of the Church (and also in Anglican orders) to be a very unrealistic view of Christian history.

First, ‘the historic episcopate’ throughout the Christian world is a pragmatic, gradual creation of the second century CE, which links with the first apostles, but does not do so exclusively. There was no single bishop of Rome, for instance, until the 2nd century, and earlier lines of single succession there are benevolent fictions.

Second, the Church of England is a Church of the Reformation which just happened to keep bishops. It is actually a ‘Reformed’ Protestant Church, that is not Lutheran, but part of a family of European Churches, some of which kept bishops in their government, some not. So national Reformed Churches in England, Ireland, Hungary, Romania and Poland have bishops. Up to 1662, clergy from other Reformed Churches served regardless in the CofE when they came here: often they were placed in English cathedrals or universities, not to quarantine them in some way but simply because they didn’t speak much English, and there they could exercise a ministry in the learned language of Latin.

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist

(Church Times) Proposals on Methodism compromise the C of E’s faith and identity, says Andrew Davison

I grew up in an Anglican-Methodist family, and went to a Methodist Sunday school. I rejoice at the prospect of a closer relationship with the Methodist Church. The report before the General Synod, Ministry and Mission in Covenant, pursues that noble aim, which makes its failings all the more agonising. With a few adaptations, it could be a triumph; as it stands, it compromises the faith and identity of the Church of England.

Our Church upholds ancient Catholic order: bishops in the his­­toric episcopate are the ministers of ordination; the eucharist is celeb­rated by them, and by the priests they ordain. This is central to what makes the Church of England Cath­o­­lic as well as reformed: not vest­­ments, nor genuflection, but order.

The intolerable departure from that order, proposed in this report, would be to invite ministers who have not been ordained by bishops to serve in the place of Anglican priests. This would last beyond the lifetimes of those reading this article. Imple­mented as the report stands, Meth­od­ist presbyters who have not re­­ceived episcopal ordination will preside at the eucharist in parish churches, chaplaincies, and fresh ex­­­pres­­sions for decades to come. That would not be as ecumenical guests, but as the celebrants of C of E ser­vices.

For the C of E to accept that would be to say at least one of the following: (1) that nothing sig­­nificant distin­guishes ordination by a bishop from ordination with­out; (2) that nothing about the eucharist (or anointing or absolu­tion) is significant for the jour­ney of salva­­tion; (3) that orders are ir­­relevant in these cases, since means of grace depend only on the inner dis­position of each individual. Each of those arguments sells short the faith and practice of the C of E.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Theology

Forward in Faith’s statement on the proposed Methodist-Anglican reunion

Found there:

Anglo-Catholics are among those who are most committed to the full visible unity of Christ’s Church. We are therefore grateful to those who have worked to produce the present proposals for a development in Anglican-Methodist relations, which the Forward in Faith Executive Committee considered at its meeting on 31 January. It is a matter of regret that we must oppose them in their current form.

As the report Mission and Ministry in Covenant (GS 2086) makes clear, significant questions and concerns have been raised, not least in the House of Bishops. Will these proposals bring us closer to unity, or might they, by creating two related but distinct episcopates within England, merely serve to entrench separation? Given the Methodist Church’s model of corporate oversight, can the office of ‘President-bishop’, to be held for one year only, be recognized as a ‘local adaptation’ of the historic episcopate upheld in the Catholic Church in East and West through the ages? We note that further work is to be done on these questions, but are concerned at the suggestion that work on such substantial issues could be completed by July.

Of even greater concern are the consequences of these proposals for catholic order in the Church of England. To permit those who have not been ordained by a bishop to minister as Church of England priests, even for a ‘temporary’ period (which might last for sixty or seventy years) is for us not a ‘bearable anomaly’ but a fundamental breach of catholic order. We deeply regret that the report rules out further consideration of this issue. As loyal Anglicans, we uphold the doctrine and discipline regarding Holy Orders that is enshrined in the historic formularies of the Church of England, and in the 1662 Ordinal in particular. We shall oppose any proposals that would effectively set that doctrine and discipline aside. We note that it is to the inheritance of faith embodied in these formularies that all who minister in the Church of England must affirm their loyalty by making the Declaration of Assent.

We remain fully committed to the search for the full visible unity of Christ’s Church, but we do not believe that it can be advanced by sacrificing catholic order and Anglican integrity

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Theology

(C of E) Bishop John Inge–Healing the wounds between Anglicans+Methodists

The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, explains why he will be supporting new proposals for communion between the Church of England and the Methodist Church in Great Britain.
It is a terrible indictment of the Church of England that Methodists found they had to separate from us in the first place. So much good has been borne of Methodism, though. Having attended a Methodist school I owe it a great debt of gratitude for my Christian formation.

Michael Ramsey described the failure of his plan for reunion with the Methodist Church to garner the necessary two thirds majority in General Synod as the ‘saddest day of my life.’ I was confirmed by him in Canterbury Cathedral shortly afterwards in what I believe to have been the first Anglican-Methodist confirmation service. It was a small sign of hope in a depressing situation.

More than forty years later, we have another opportunity to heal this gaping wound in the Body of Christ. It will involve sacrifices by both communions but they are a small price to pay. I hope with all my heart that we shall be prepared to make them.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Theology

(Telegraph) Church of England braced for ‘controversial’ vote on using Methodist ministers

Church of England leaders are braced for a “controversial” vote on whether it should share ministers with the Methodists as part of plans set to boost struggling rural churches.

The proposals will be debated at the Church’s governing body, the General Synod next month – but senior figures warned that some will see the proposals as “very problematic”.

The plans would allow priest from each church to preach at the other, and would help areas where there are “serious challenges in sustaining a Christian presence”, church leaders suggest.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Parish Ministry

(CEN) Irish Church leaders unite in support of families

Irish Church leaders issued a rare joint New Year’s message in support of the family, as Pope Francis prepares to take part in the Roman Catholic Church’s World Meeting of Families in the summer.

The Pope is taking part in the three-yearly meeting as part of his state visit to Ireland, and it prompted calls from Church leaders for new efforts to protect vulnerable families from hardship.

The joint message was signed by the Anglican Primate of Ireland, Archbishop Richard Clarke. He was joined by the Roman Catholic Primate of Ireland and Presbyterian, Methodist and Irish Council of Churches leaders.

They expressed their concern at the rising level of homelessness in Ireland, which they describe as “one of the most tragic and glaring symptoms of a broken system that is leaving too many people without adequate support.”

They said that in the Republic of Ireland one in three of those living in emergency accommodation is a child. And in Northern Ireland, families with more than two children are among those most at risk from the combination of welfare changes, cuts to services, and cuts to charities providing vital support to children and young people.

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Posted in --Ireland, Anthropology, Church of Ireland, Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Other Churches, Other Denominations, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Ecumenical Christmas Letter 2017

The gospel story, the saving story of Jesus Christ is good news indeed. The Gospel according to St Luke tells us the story of the good news announced to the Shepherds. On the hillsides above Bethlehem the Angel of the Lord appeared and brought good news. The good news was none other than the birth in Bethlehem of a Saviour, the Christ, the Lord.

This year we have learned a new phrase in various parts of the world. This phrase is ‘fake news’. Fake news is dishonest; it is deliberate misinformation published in order to deceive, to confuse and disrupt. Fake news is used as a weapon to achieve dishonest advantage and to subvert honest debate and discussion. It is the antithesis of the good news. Fake news is but lying and does not come from God.

But we like the Angels proclaim good news and, like the Shepherds, we receive good news. The good news is good news for all people, whatever their situation in life. It is good news for politicians and leaders but is also good news for the refugees and displaced persons who continue to flee from danger and seek safety and sanctuary. As St Gregory Nazianzen writes:

He who gives riches becomes poor, for he assumes the poverty of my flesh, that I may assume the richness of his Godhead. He that is full empties himself, for he empties himself of his glory for a short while, that I may have a share in his fullness. (Oration 38. 13)

This is truth and this is good news.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Christmas, Ecumenical Relations

(AJ) Saskatchewan Anglicans share church with Roman Catholics

In the early afternoon of Christmas Eve, 2016, Chad Geis, chair of the pastoral council at the Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Qu’Appelle, Sask., arrived at the church he had known since his childhood to get things ready for the Christmas morning mass.

From the moment he stepped in, it was clear something was amiss. It was oddly cold inside. The thermometer read -5° C. Christmas services ended up being cancelled at the church while Geis tried to find out what was wrong with the boiler.

Two and a half blocks away, at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, there were no Christmas services planned either. Its congregation of eight to 10 active members receives sacramental ministry once a month from a retired priest who also ministers to other churches, and they wanted to offer the priest the option of putting on a service at a larger church with more children, says warden Jean Kurbis. So Kurbis and some other parishioners had made plans to attend the Christmas service at the Roman Catholic church instead. When they arrived on Christmas Day, they were surprised to see a sign bearing the words “Closed until further notice” on the door.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Ecumenical Relations, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(1st Things) The Christian Way: A Statement By Evangelicals And Catholics Together

Christians freely obey Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. “Come,” he beckons, “follow me.” Being a Christian requires more than intellectual or moral agreement with Christian teachings. Christ asks for our love and loyalty. Following him requires conversion, which leads to membership in the Church, the Body of Christ. To be a Christian means being a citizen of a city that has a rich inheritance and glorious future. As the Psalmist says, “Walk about Zion, go round about her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels; that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will be our guide for ever” (Ps. 48:12–14). Christianity is a community of faith shaped by the Holy Spirit, by worship and proclamation, by prayer and spiritual discipline, by ancient rites and teachings that are received from those who have gone before. Within this community of faith, we come to know and enjoy the presence of God.

Christianity is not a religion, if by that we mean one among many expressions of the natural human impulse to encounter the divine. The Christian way of life is rooted in the people of Israel. Christians share with Jews a common heritage reaching back to a time well before the age in which Jesus of Nazareth lived and preached. It begins with God’s gracious promise to Abraham: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves” (Gen. 12:1–3).

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Ecumenical Relations, Evangelicals, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AJ) Freedom from slavery theme of 2018 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

The 2018 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will focus on freedom from slavery, with prayer topics that are of special importance to the Caribbean. These topics include the plight of Haitian refugees, human trafficking, violence, the debt crisis and credit union movement, strengthening families and colonial reconciliation.

Developed by an ecumenical team in the Caribbean, the theme for the week, “Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power” (Exodus 15:6), represents the abolition of enslavement in its many forms, according to background material included in the Week of Prayer resource booklet.

Exodus 15:1–21, the song of Moses and Miriam, was chosen as a motif because of its themes of triumph over oppression, it adds.

The choice of theme reflects the Caribbean’s colonized past, from the islands’ Indigenous inhabitants who were enslaved and, in some cases, exterminated, to the African slave trade and the “indentureship” of people from India and China. “The contemporary Caribbean is deeply marked by the dehumanizing project of colonial exploitation. In their aggressive pursuit of mercantile gains, the colonizers codified brutal systems which traded human beings and their forced labour,” says the Week of Prayer resource booklet for 2018.

Read it all.

Posted in Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Politics in General, Sexuality, Spirituality/Prayer, Violence

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s sermon at Reformation 500th anniversary service

Through the Reformation we learned that we are saved entirely, confidently and unfailingly by grace alone, through faith, and not by our own works. From the poorest to the richest all will come at the end to stand before God, only with the words of the hymn, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to your cross I cling.”

Through the Reformation the church found itself again confronted with its need to be weak and powerless; to come with nothing to the Cross and to admit that, in the words of the Collect in the Book of Common Prayer for the 19th Sunday after Trinity, “without thee we are not able to please thee”.

Through the Reformation the church found again a love for the scriptures, and seizing the opportunity of printing, gave them afresh to the world – telling every person that they themselves should read them and seek the wisdom of God to understand them. In doing so the church released not only reformation but revolution, as confidence grew amongst the poor and oppressed that they too were the recipients of the promise of God of freedom and hope.

Through the Reformation the vast mass of people across Europe and then around the world were drawn to receive the fruits of a missionary movement that did not indefinitely suffer tyranny, and that would not unquestioningly bow the knee to authorities and hierarchies.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Ecumenical Relations, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

(TGC) Fred Sanders–Why the Reformation Should Make You More catholic

Celebrating the Reformation, as a 500th anniversary invites us to do, isn’t necessarily a straightforward affair. Even those of us who have robust confidence in the rightness of Protestant doctrine, who feel profound gratitude to the reformers, and whose entire Christian lives have been lived within the good heritage of Reformation churches, can nevertheless worry that somewhere around the third “hip, hip, hooray,” we might be in danger of giving the wrong impression.

The wrong impression would be the sectarian, clannish, hooray-for-our-team impression. It would be bad enough if our Reformation celebration looked like an excuse to mark the boundary between the Protestant us and the Roman Catholic them. But even worse would be a Reformation celebration that looked like an excuse to mark the boundary between 1517 and all that went before it. There is such a thing as chronological clannishness that divides Christian history into fourths and then celebrates the final quarter alone.

Protestants ought to say that this kind of centuries-segregating sectarianism is uncatholic: It fails to be universal in its intent, and it ignores the completeness of the entire Christian tradition. Universal, complete, and entire are of course the proper meanings of the word catholic. So although it may sound odd to our conventional connotations, it’s actually not contradictory at all to say that the Reformation ought to make us catholic.

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Posted in Church History, Ecumenical Relations

(Atlantic) Emma Green–Why Can’t Christians Get Along, 500 Years After the Reformation?

While relations among Christians are far more peaceful today than they were 500 years ago, the tension between theological particularity and yearning for universal fellowship is still just as complicated. As global Christianity evolves, the tension is likely to increase.

Especially over the last century or so, Christian groups have made significant attempts to repair the conflicts among them. In the mid-19th century, the Evangelical Alliance sought to unite Protestant groups to oppose child labor and poor factory working conditions, a unity they described as “a new thing in church history.” In 1910, a missionary conference in Edinburgh laid the groundwork for what later became the World Council of Churches, which united many Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and mainline Protestant churches for the first time.

But until recently, the rifts of the Reformation were insurmountable. “The idea that Catholics and Protestants would get together to cooperate on anything is just almost unimaginable before the 1960s,” said Mark Noll, a historian at Notre Dame University. “In my lifetime, there has been a sea change in Protestant-Catholic relations, opening up an unimaginable array of cooperation.”

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Posted in Church History, Ecumenical Relations, Theology