Friday, 30 July 2010

Oikocredit presents Social Performance Report 2009

Community-based savings bank in CambodiaImage via Wikipedia
The following article appears in the last issue of CTE NewsOikocredit is one of the ecumenical organisations featured on the Methodist Church website.

Oikocredit has released its first Social Performance report, detailing its commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of the poor through access to financial services. The report shows the progression and results of Oikocredit’s many years evaluating social performance. The first printed copies were presented to representatives of Oikocredit’s Project Partners and Support Associations at their Annual General Meeting in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil.

For the past 35 years, Oikocredit's primary goal has been to provide credit to organisations which may otherwise not have access to finance. This often means supporting less established, more rural organisations, which have an outstanding social focus. Many are small organisations which support women, target rural communities and are environmentally aware. ”We can’t assume that reaching the poor and initiating positive change are automatically achieved through access to finance,” said Oikocredit managing director Tor G. Gull. “To achieve those social goals, the intent must be clearly defined and measured like financial performance is defined and measured. A combined social and financial perspective is vital for effective management in this sector.” Oikocredit monitors information on partners' outreach, products and services, as well as attention given to gender, the community and the environment. These social indicators provide a comprehensive overview, which reflects Oikocredit’s commitment to supporting grassroots economies. "Oikocredit's target groups, mission and goals are all weighted towards social impact," said Oikocredit director Social Performance and Financial Analysis Ben Simmes. "So it is essential for our clients, investors and staff that we measure how financial support translates into real life. We hope reporting in this detailed way contributes to industry-wide improvements in transparency, accountability and to products and services for the poor.”

Oikocredit manages over €425 million in development financing to almost 800 project partners, in 70 countries. Of these partners, over 500 are microfinance institutions, reaching more than 17 million clients, of whom 85% are women and 53% live in rural areas. It is paramount all partners share Oikocredit's outlook on poverty reduction and fair financing. Oikocredit is implementing an ESG (environmental, social, governance) scorecard that analyses an organisation’s operations and looks at transparency of costs, client satisfaction and evaluation of a client’s ability to repay the loan. Oikocredit was also among the first signatories of the Client Protection Principles – a Smart Campaign initiative protecting microfinance clients against unfair lending practices.

Oikocredit is a worldwide financial institution that promotes global justice by empowering disadvantaged people with credit. Since 1975 Oikocredit has offered loans, guarantees and investment capital to microfinance institutions, cooperatives, fair trade and other businesses. Today, Oikocredit operates in more than 70 countries.
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Thursday, 29 July 2010

New President of Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

ROME - JANUARY 17:  Pope Benedict XVI, flanked...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
I thought the following article from CTE News might be of interest.  From time to time I will post items from CTE News.  If you wish to subscribe to CTE News, and see the items I don't post, you need to visit this page on the CTE website.

The pope has appointed Basel Bishop Kurt Koch as a top Vatican ecumenical advisor, heading the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He replaces German Cardinal Walter Kasper (illustrated, with the Pope), who is retiring after serving as president of the council since 1999.

The Council for Promoting Christian Unity is one of the most important of the 11 pontifical councils. The council’s aim is to develop dialogue and collaboration with the other Churches and world communions. It is usually presided over by a cardinal. Koch has served on the council since 2002. He is the author of around 70 ecumenical articles and discussion papers. Among the subjects covered are Aids, the future of the Church and priests’ celibacy.

Born in 1950 in Emmenbrücke in Lucerne, Koch studied Catholic theology in Lucerne and Munich and was ordained as a priest in 1982. A doctor in theology, Koch was dean of the faculty of theology at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts before being appointed bishop for Basel in 1995 by Pope Jean-Paul II. He also served as vice-president of the Swiss Bishops Conference for nine years before becoming its president from 2007-2009. He will continue as bishop of Basel until a successor is named.
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Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Quakers and the Ecumenical Agenda

Quakers and the Ecumenical Agenda is a new report from the Society of Friends about their witness to ecumenism.  The booklet looks at how local churches may experience the Holy Spirit in different ways and how they can come to recognise the gifts of the Spirit in other churches. Locally this needs a level of trust and development of personal relationships as the process changes, grows and develops over time.

The booklet has been prepared for and issued by the Quaker Committee for Christian and Interfaith Relations (QCCIR) as part of the committee’s remit to support and encourage Friends in ecumenical work. It reflects some of the thinking of the committee in trying to introduce and pursue a new ecumenical agenda.
Some Methodists may wonder why Quakers are involved in ecumenical conversations.  After all they are unlikely to share the Methodist understanding of visible unity.  It would appear some Friends ask themselves a similar question.  Some Friends may wonder why Quakers should be involved in these discussions with other churches if so many of the topics are not relevant to us.
The booklet considers exchange of gifts and refers to the new movement to practice receptive ecumenism.  It explores the gifts Quakers might make to and receive from other traditions.
The booklet also considers the experience of the Holy Spirit and the nature of authority, most notably the authority of Scripture.
Overall it is a thoughtful contribution and should be of interest to anyone working ecumenically with Quakers,  The booklet concludes:
When people from all the churches meet in depth, in love and in truth, we can engage with each other in a truly relational ecumenism.
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Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Second Ecumenical Kirchentag 2

The following article is the second I have found about May's Ecumenical Kirchentag.  It is from the latest edition of the Church of England's European Bulletin.  If you would like to know more about European Ecumenism, you can subscribe to the Bulletin from this page on the Methodist Church website.

Perhaps Hope Together will be the equivalent of the Kirchentag in Britain?

This second ecumenical Kirchentag, which took place in Munich from Wednesday 12 to Sunday 16 May, brought to light a strong participation from the UK and the continuing interest of its people in the Kirchentag. In all there were over 250 participants from the UK including bishops from the Church of England. The theme for the gathering was ‘That you may have hope’. It was an ecumenical feast making visible the diversity of Churches and Christian fellowship. Munich was transformed into a city in which the old and young met in order to pray and worship together and to engage with current political and theological issues. At the inaugural service the President of Germany spoke of the importance of ecumenical unity at a time of challenge – noting particularly the abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church. One of the key theological issues under discussion was the Eucharist and why Protestants and Roman Catholics cannot share together in it. There were several appeals to begin practising common Eucharist wherever possible in order to then put in place the appropriate theory (first praxis then theory).

The Meissen Service was hosted by the Anglican/Episcopal Church of the Ascension and the Evangelisch-Lutherische Emmauskirche and held on Thursday May 13. The Munich Concert Choir added to the festive atmosphere in a church filled to capacity. 7 Anglican and 7 Lutheran bishops were present. The Church of England Co-Chair of the Meissen Commission and Bishop of Croydon, The Rt Revd Nick Baines was the celebrant and the EKD Co-Chair, Bishop Friedrich Weber preached.

At what is called the ‘Marketplace’ the partnership and links were on display. There was a specific Meissen-Stall with displays highlighting a number of the links and partnerships between the Church of England and the EKD. In addition to this the EKD-Stall provided constant information on Meissen.

On the whole this was a Kirchentag which made visible the fruits of almost 20 years of Meissen Commission work.
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Monday, 26 July 2010

Second Ecumenical Kirchentag 1

Here is the first of two reports I have found about May's Ecumenical Kirchentag.  This first one is from the last edition of Churches Together in England News.

Looking out of the window for inspiration, several England flags wave at me from upstairs windows and a man with an England tee-shirt walks past. Dare I confess to a total indifference to football?! Does it date from when my brother, a besotted eight-year old, whiled away the tedium of car journeys with loud and enthusiastic commentaries on imagined or remembered games?

But I recently passed Manchester City's stadium before a game was due to start and had a strong sense of the spectacle and excitement of the game. Even from the car I felt the theatre of it all, the exhilaration of being part of a huge crowd. I'm not normally a crowd person myself but suddenly I understood the drama and – almost! – wanted to share it.

Football crowds? Ideal Home exhibition? Greenbelt? Spring Harvest? All those comparisons jostle for attention as I struggle to convey the experience of the second ecumenical Kirchentag. It was my first Kirchentag, although I have wanted to go for some time. I knew it would be big – but this big? If you are a numbers person, then some people said 130,000 people, some 230,000 people. I don't do numbers, but we took Munich over – local people offered hospitality and all the hotels were full. Everyone seemed to be wearing the distinctive Kirchentag travel pass or boasting the orange Kirchentag scarf. They stopped the traffic for us as we walked away from the exhilarating opening service, following the bands (a clever way of lessening the log-jam as they took different routes) and enthusiastically waving at bemused residents of upstairs flats as we went.

What shall I write about? The opening service with all those people, big screens ensuring we had a sense of what was happening? The various morning bible studies? The vast market-place, filling huge exhibition halls and showcasing every aspect of church life – mainstream and marginal, well-known and whacky? The various seminars all over the city, some in small rooms, some in exhibition halls? We managed to get to the one which included Angela Merkel speaking about social inclusion and were very impressed at the way people spoke affectionately of her – she has been a constant participant for years. We listened to Hans Küng – was I really in the same (vast) room as him? All styles of worship were available. I remember particularly the open-air Orthodox service, a thousand tables set on a dual carriageway, each set for ten, with a cloth, earthenware tumblers and jug of water, a bowl of oil, apples and a large cloth-covered loaf of bread. Half-way through the service, we turned our chairs to face each other round the tables, shared apples, bread and oil and, afterwards, shared scripture together too.

I've come home with scarves and bags, leaflets and badges. There's the Coventry cross I made from nails and the wooden angel which will grace my Christmas tree next year. I've come home with a myriad of memories and ideas. There's the thought, for example, that although the Kirchentag is aimed at Christians, with its mixture of worship, education and entertainment, nevertheless it was a powerful witness, demonstrating the vitality of the Church, young and old alike. It was good to be part of that.

But what has gone deep for me came from a seminar on inter-communion. Obviously the issue has been aired fairly regularly in my ten years as Field Officer. I've heard the arguments and counter-arguments, the explanations and the anger. Each time I participate in the celebration of Eucharist and am unable to receive bread and wine, my commitment to work for unity is strengthened. Each time I receive communion at Mass while my friends and colleagues receive a blessing, it hurts, and I know with every fibre of my being that our disunity is not what God wants. But I came away from the Kirchentag ashamed. I listened to a Jesuit from Oxford talking about his various friends who are in Inter-Church marriages. Philip spoke simply of their deep and constant pain, united in marriage – which surely supersedes ecclesial disunity – yet unable to receive communion together. In ecumenical circles we don't like not being able to receive communion together. It's uncomfortable and contradicts the fellowship we experience. For some of us, it's an affront, for a common table is a grace on the way to unity. For others, a common table is the fruit of full ecclesial unity, so it's a sharp reminder that despite the genuine fellowship and friendship, ecclesial disunity is real. But our discomfort is as nothing compared to the pain of those who 'live in [their] marriage the hopes and difficulties of the path to Christian unity' (Pope John Paul II at York, 1982). And, in the midst of the complaints and misunderstandings, I forget that. So I am ashamed. Yes, I want to be able to receive communion with my friends, but that is as nothing compared with the deep desire of inter-Church families. I can do so little, but I can remember them, remind other people of them, and keep them in my prayer. For me, that is the abiding fruit of the ecumenical Kirchentag.
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Friday, 23 July 2010

Archbishop of Canterbury at Methodist Conference 3

Dr Rowan Williams PC, DPhil, DD, FBA the 104th...Image via Wikipedia
In addition to two previous posts about the Archbishop's address to Methodist Conference 2010 (one below and follow the links to the other), it is possible to read the Methodist President's address to General Synod (February 2010) and the Pastoral Letter that followed it on the Methodist Church website.  For those who can't get enough ecumenism, this will equip you with the full texts of the formal public exchanges this year.

Here is another account of the Archbishop's address to Methodist Conference from CTE News:

Dr Williams' challenge at Methodist Conference

Addressing the annual Methodist Conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said he wanted to see the Church of England and Methodist communities growing much closer together. In a 40-minute address to the Conference in Portsmouth’s Guildhall, the Archbishop contrasted the roles of the apostles Peter and Paul in the Church, and what the contemporary Church could learn from them.

In a further 40-minute session, the Archbishop took a wide range of questions. Dr Williams was asked what risks the Church of England was taking in relation to the Covenant with the Methodist Church. “The answer is not a lot,” Dr Williams replied. “We are being invited, in the short to middle term, to work out flexibility on models of ‘dual nationality’; that is, how two communities with two different histories can develop some genuine overlapping life.”

Dr Williams also answered a question as to whether a Covenant relationship between Anglicans and Methodists was exclusive. “A covenant ought to be a friendship written down,” he said. “It doesn’t mean there are no other friendships. If it becomes us against them; a little friendship against the world, well, God help us really. Any act of reconciliation has to be mutual; Anglican clergy at every level accepting the ministry of those they are being reconciled with.”

The Methodist Church and the Church of England are in a covenant relationship. On 1 November 2003, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the General Secretary of the General Synod, together with the President, Vice President and Secretary of the Methodist Conference signed the Covenant at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen. The Covenant puts the two Churches on a path of ever-deepening relationships, mutual trust and co-operation on the road to a richer unity.
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Thursday, 22 July 2010

Together in Christ

The Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has published some Parish Audit leaflets: Together in Christ.  They have been produced by the Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Christian Unity, chaired by Bishop Michael Evans of East Anglia.

The resource is provided to help parishes take stock of their ecumenical commitment and to encourage them to go further, promotion of Christian unity and cooperation at parish level.


Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Ministerial Oversight with Other Denominations

The reply below, to the following Memorial (M2), was accepted by Methodist Conference 2010.

Working with other denominations to provide ministerial oversight.

The Barnet and Queensbury (35/35) Circuit Meeting (Present: 25. Voting: unanimous) notes the difficulty in finding presbyters to fill appointments in the Methodist stationing process and the concurrent problems in other denominations, particularly in the United Reformed Church.

The Circuit urges the Conference to look at ways and means to collaborate with other denominational authorities in providing a cohesive strategy to provide ministerial oversight for Methodist churches and local churches of other denominations.


The Conference thanks the Barnet and Queensbury Circuit for its memorial. In the 2009–10 connexional year there was a shortfall of 34 presbyters for available stations, which was a decrease from the previous year and the same number as 2007–08. Work is currently being undertaken to address the concerns regarding the number of candidates through the organisation of successful ‘Vocations Days’ around the Connexion as well as through the production of engaging publications and through ensuring that the website is as accessible as possible. Significant improvements have also been made to the processes which support candidates as they produce a portfolio for the selection committees.

Ecumenical conversations about the provision and deployment of ministerial resources are a crucial part of the work of the Ministries and Learning Team within the Connexional Team, and the Team continues to engage with a number of partners to discern innovative and productive ways to share such resources. The development of policy in this area will be enhanced by the development of a Ministries Committee, as reported elsewhere in the Agenda. A joint meeting during the 2010–11 connexional year of the Methodist Council and the Mission Council of the United Reformed Church will provide another forum to discuss initiatives and strategies with partner denominations.

The Conference therefore accepts this memorial and welcomes the further work which is to be undertaken in this area by the Methodist Council and the Shadow Ministries Committee.
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Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The Nature and Mission of the Church

Along with other member churches of the World Council of Churches, the British Methodist Church has written a response to The Nature and Mission of the Church - A Stage on the Way to a Common Statement. (Follow this link for the full text of Nature and Mission.)  Drawing on the consensus reached in Baptism Eucharist and Ministry this document seeks to express common convictions about the church, its nature and mission, and to identify the ecclesiological issues which continue to divide the churches today. 

The Methodist Church response was presented to Methodist Conference in 2009.  I have updated the entry on the Methodist Church website and if you go there you will find a link to the churches' response.  This document is too long to reproduce in this post but it's worth a look!
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Monday, 19 July 2010

EMU Statement of Partnership for Scotland

Scottish Episcopal ChurchImage via Wikipedia
Methodist Conference 2010 received the following report and endorsed the signing by the Synod of the Scotland District of the Statement of Partnership.

Statement of Partnership between the Methodist Church in Scotland, the United Reformed Church National Synod of Scotland, and the Scottish Episcopal Church.

2.1 The talks in Scotland between the Episcopal Church, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church (known as the “EMU” talks), which began on the 2005, arose out of a desire by the three EMU denominations to continue their engagement following the rejection by the Church of Scotland of the final report of the Scottish Churches Initiative for Union (SCIFU) process at their 2003 General Assembly. Informal discussions among the three other denominations following the demise of the SCIFU process established the following aims and objectives:

Aim: Finding and expressing our unity in Christ, locally and nationally, across Scotland.

  • To overcome obstacles which we allow to prevent us from sharing Christ’s ministry both locally and nationally.
  • To work positively together
  • To encourage our churches to learn, worship, plan and act together, both formally and informally, so that we discover our unity in Christ
  • To understand and name any hindrances (e.g. historical, ecclesiological and sociological)
  • To find ways of sharing and deploying resources (e.g. personnel, property and finance)
  • To engage together in the life and issues of Scotland.
  • To model effective ways of deepening our relationship
  • To engage with and learn from existing ecumenical relationships and experience 
2.2 The main EMU group including the SEC Primus, Chair of the Methodist Church in Scotland and Moderator of the United Reformed Church (URC) National Synod of Scotland met twice a year. Already there was co-operation in training, education, mission and church planting. The EMU talks explored how to expand on these, developing mechanisms to enable this to happen. Much common ground was established through the SCIFU process and this was not revisited by the EMU Talks (e.g. diaconal ministry and baptism).

2.3 A consequence of closer working between the three denominations in the area of theological training for both lay and ordained people is leading to an Education Federation being created. The EMU Talks have also identified a desire for closer co-operation on Church and Society issues and the Scottish Episcopal Church’s (SEC) Millennium Goal initiative has been taken up by the other two denominations along with exploring new ways of working more closely together.

2.4 Another significant development relating to the EMU Talks has been the inclusion of the Scottish Episcopal Church and Church in Wales as participants in the “Joint Implementation Commission 2 (JIC2)” of the “Anglican Methodist Covenant”.  Previously, this Church of England/ Methodist Church in Britain initiative had not engaged fully with Scotland and Wales, and the EMU Talks acted as a catalyst for an invitation to the SEC to participate in JIC2. As the URC are also participants in JIC2 the EMU Talks provide an avenue for both inputting a Scottish perspective to JIC2 but also potentially taking forward any initiatives which might emerge from it.

2.5 The three denominations continue to work together with other denominations through their involvement in the networks and associated bodies and agencies of Action of Churches Together in Scotland (ACTS) and other ecumenical groupings. The three “EMU” denominations continue to be fully committed to this wider ecumenism and will continue to work together with others whenever this is possible as well as specifically through EMU, when other ecumenical avenues are not available.

2.6 The EMU Talks reached a stage where it was felt that a more formal expression of the aims and objectives was required. A Statement of Partnership was proposed as follows. 

We, the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Synod of the Scotland District of the Methodist Church and the National Synod of Scotland of the United Reformed Church, in recognition of our developing relationships, instigate this statement of partnership. We solemnly declare that we will work for ever closer co-operation in serving Christ. We are glad of the partnerships that have already been established between us and commit ourselves to strengthening these relationships and building new ones. By regular meetings between our various officers, and encouragement to our congregations, we shall work to identify, explore and develop opportunities to share in mission and ministry by continuing to forge stronger ties between us.  Specifically we shall explore together ways of:

Being Church and serving God together;

Increasing the confidence of our members to speak of God and faith in ways that make sense to others;

Cooperating in teaching and learning about Jesus Christ, and our mission together;

Cooperating on Church and Society issues, supporting community development and taking action together for justice, especially among the most deprived and poor in Scotland;

Sharing in the provision and deployment of both lay and ordained ministries of all the people of God;

Sharing our resources across Scotland to fulfil our shared Christian mission to spread the Gospel.

We shall seek to widen our Ecumenical engagement within this Partnership and with other denominations, wherever possible, so that our working together may be as wide as possible and our diversity not hindered by ongoing dis-union and rivalry. Progress in this partnership will be formally reviewed on a 5 yearly basis from the date of signature.

In signing this statement we affirm our commitment to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and trust in God’s power for the implementation of this partnership.

2.7 The Statement of Partnership is meant to be permissive and should energise and encourage relationships throughout and between the denominations at all levels. It is not a scheme for organic union rather an enabling tool for developing ecumenical cooperation.

2.8 The Statement of Partnership was endorsed by the relevant synods.  In Methodist terms, covenant and other partnership agreements with a Church (in the sense of a whole denomination) are signed with the approval and on behalf of the Conference. Local and regional covenants and other partnership agreements are signed on behalf a Church Council, Circuit Meeting or District Synod and are not approved by or reported to the Conference.  The EMU Partnership is much close to the latter than the former. It was a therefore approved by and signed on behalf of the Synod of the Scotland District of the Methodist Church. A formal signing of the EMU Partnership Statement then took place on 23 January 2010 in Perth Cathedral.
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Friday, 16 July 2010

Ecumenical Courses at Sarum College

I have added details of Sarum College's MA Degrees to the Methodist Church website. 

In addition to their MA in Christian Spirituality, they now offer:
  • MA in Christian Liturgy (autumn 2010 intake)
  • MA in Theology, Imagination and Culture (beginning January 2011)
  • MA in Faith-based Leadership (beginning January 2011)
They claim these are the UK's only ecumenical masters degrees in these subjects.
The programme for Christian Spirituality, for example, offers a unique interdisciplinary exploration: students examine the different ways Christians seek to relate to God, the underlying theology and the particular practices or lifestyles the differences express.

The course is delivered through intensive modules in the beautiful setting of Salisbury's Cathedral Close, the course is accessible to those who live outside Salisbury and overseas. Modules are supplemented by tutorial support for home-based study.

 Programme Content

* Two core modules
* Four optional modules
* Written dissertation

 Optional modules are offered in a range of topics, including:

* Art, Belief and Spirituality
* Medieval Spirituality
* Celtic Spirituality
* Green Faith
* Pastoral Ministry and Christian Spiritual Direction
* Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Christian Spirituality

 Optional modules can also be taken individually by non-MA students.

 The Methodist Church does not recommend courses but there is a list of courses about ecumenism we have been able to find on the website.  If you are aware of a course that is not on this list, please provide details in a comment.
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Thursday, 15 July 2010

Women Bishops and the Methodist Church

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 10:  Members of the...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Ken Howcroft, Ecumenical Officer to the Methodist Church, has written this exclusive response to the Church of England General Synod's recent decision about women bishops. 

I have been reflecting about the further steps taken in the General Synod this week towards the ordination of women bishops. The Methodist Church has long seen it as important that the leadership and oversight of the Church is enriched by the ministry of women as well as that of men in all parts of the Church’s life and therefore in all forms and aspects of ministry, lay or ordained. The ministry of women is part of Christ’s gift to the Church and, through the Church, to the world. The controlling scripture is “in Christ there is no male or female” [Galatians 3:28]. Even those British Methodists who do not like the idea of having bishops are likely to think that a Church which does have them should allow women to exercise the role as well as men. So Methodists are likely to rejoice at the progress being made.

At the same time it is agonising to watch and stand alongside Anglican sisters and brothers as they struggle to find ways of remaining together in unity when matters of deep conviction divide them. We are in covenant with all parties to this debate, even those with whom we profoundly disagree or who profoundly disagree with us. The matter raises important questions of how Christians can live together with contradictory convictions and continue to worship and participate in mission with each other. That really tests our praying for Christian unity. It is, of course, also a phenomenon we have to face within our own Church as well as between Churches.

We can understand the concern which appears to be reflected in the Synod’s votes on various proposals and amendments that if women are appointed as bishops, their authority should not be undermined by alternative arrangements being put in place. But at the same time that very emphasis re-enforces the idea that the diocese is the primary manifestation of the local church. This is increasingly said to us by Anglicans. The weight of Anglican understanding about the Church is on the diocese and the local parish. For Methodists it is the local church for worship and fellowship, but it is the connexion and the circuit in so far as the provision of ministry and resources for mission are concerned. Moreover as a gathered church we do not have the same relationship to territorial jurisdiction. So although we do not approve of the reasons why some alternative patterns of oversight were being canvassed in the Church of England, those actual models might provide a way in which Methodist can mesh more fully with traditional Anglican structures.

Finally, now that the Church of England is on the move about women bishops, there may be pressure on Methodists to consider accepting the historic episcopate. These were not “tit for tat” demands on each other in the lead up to the Covenant, but people have often acted and talked as if they were. But that is another story!
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Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Archbishop of Canterbury at Methodist Conference 2

Here is some additional information, for those who want to know more!

The original post is here.

Praxis, a sister blog to this one, has a more detailed account of his speech, Compromise or Confrontation.

Or, you can listen to a video recording on this page.  Scroll down to find it.  I can't guarantee this will be on the Methodist church website forever.

Joint Implementation Commission Update

Methodist Conference 2010 received the following report from the Joint Implementation Commission of the Anglican Methodist Covenant. 

Joint Implementation Commission – Update on Work in Progress, June 2010

 The Joint Implementation Commission was set up by the Methodist Conference and the General Synod when they approved the Covenant in July 2003. The remit of the JIC is to monitor and promote the implementation of the Covenant. The first phase of the JIC came to an end in July 2008, and a refreshed Commission was appointed with Professor Peter Howdle and Bishop Christopher Cocksworth as co-chairs and the Revd Ken Howcroft and the Revd Canon Dr Paul Avis as co-conveners. The JIC meets three times a year.

 The JIC is encouraging our two churches to work together as one in all the ways that are already possible, while it continues to address more long-term issues. The following areas will be included in the substantial interim report that the JIC intends to bring to Conference and Synod in 2011:
  • The interchangeability of ordained ministries, and the role of the historic episcopate in this, continues to be a priority for the JIC. The JIC is being informed by the Faith and Order bodies of both Churches.
  • The JIC is also doing innovative work on shared local unity in mission in order to maximise what is already possible under the rules of our churches.
  • An important and constructive consultation on the ministry of deacons in our two churches was held at the Methodist Diaconal Order’s Centre in April 2010.
  • The JIC has been collating responses from dioceses and from the Methodist Connexion on its 2008 report Embracing the Covenant.
  • Scottish and Welsh Methodism each have a voice on the current JIC, and the Church in Wales and the Scottish Episcopal Church are represented.
  • Fresh Expressions remains a major joint initiative under the Covenant; the United Reformed Church has recently become a partner in the organisation.
  • Under the Covenant, a joint working party is looking at the ecclesiological implications of emerging expressions of Church; this group has direct links with Fresh Expressions.
  • The United Reformed Church has a representative on the JIC; both our churches are developing their relationship with the URC.
  • Elizabeth Hall has been appointed as Safeguarding Officer for both churches, succeeding the Revd Pearl Luxon.
  • The JIC is researching current joint training of Local Preachers and Readers in order to promote this further.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Methodist URC Joint Resolution Report to Conference

United Reformed ChurchImage via Wikipedia
The following report was received by Methodist Conference 2010. For more information about relationships between the Methodist and United Reformed Churches, visit this page on the Methodist Church website.

Progress in response to the Joint Resolution of the Methodist Conference and the United Reformed Church Assembly in 2008.

1.1 Background to the Joint Resolution

In 2008, the URC Assembly and Methodist Conference approved a joint resolution which had been proposed by the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District of the Methodist Church and the West Midlands Synod of the United Reformed Church. Full details of the resolution can be found on the Methodist Church website [2008 Resolution 62/2] (or by following the above link). Its main points are as follows:
  • to explore further joint working for the sake of shared mission;
  • a structure that minimises ecumenical meetings but facilitates diversity;
  • exploration of joint structures at synod/district level;
  • effective use of resources.
1.2 Strategic Oversight Group

A group has been formed to bring further proposals to the Governance bodies of both Churches. The membership of this Strategic Oversight Group is currently: from the United Reformed Church, the General Secretary, the Deputy General Secretary and the Treasurer; and from the Methodist Church, the General Secretary, the Secretary for Team Operations and the Secretary for External Relationships [n.b. the offi ces of Treasurer of the United Reformed Church and Secretary for Team Operations in the Methodist Church are currently held by the same person].

1.3 Observers at Methodist Council and URC Mission Council

The Methodist Council, responding to Resolution 62/2 of the 2008 Conference, has invited a representative of the United Reformed Church to be a regular observer at its meetings and appointed a Methodist observer to attend the Mission Council of the United Reformed Church.

1.4 Joint Councils Meeting

The Methodist Council and the Mission Council have agreed to hold a joint meeting from 13–15 October 2010.

1.5 Closer Working Consultation

The Closer Working Consultation was a local response to the 2008 Joint Resolution for those engaged in ecumenical work in the Methodist and United Reformed Churches. It was a consultation, held at the end of April 2010, for members of URC Methodist Local Ecumenical Partnerships, United Areas and other local collaborations.

1.6 United Areas Model Constitution

The new charities legislation means United Areas will have to register as charities and so the Methodist and United Reformed Churches have collaborated in the writing of a model constitution for United Areas. This is the fi rst time United Areas have had a standard format for their constitutions and it means the approval process for United Areas will be much simpler.

1.7 How to Make it Work

‘How to Make it Work’ documents most of the details of the relationships between Methodist and United Reformed Churches. This site includes a service for the induction and welcome of ministers, a checklist for church stewards and elders, orientation for incoming ministers to Methodist and URC Local Ecumenical Partnerships, a model declaration of intent for a Single Congregation partnership and a paper about Baptists in Local Ecumenical Partnerships with the Methodist and United Reformed Churches. It is available through both websites.
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Monday, 12 July 2010

Mission Shaped and Ecumenical

The following, by Roger Paul, is taken with permission from a recent edition of the Church of England Council for Christian Unity's (CCU) Bulletin:

Back in March, CCU in collaboration with Churches Together in England, held a consultation at Aylesford Priory entitled ‘Mission Shaped and Ecumenical’. Twenty people from the mission and from the ecumenical networks were invited to take part. We were helped in our reflections by the Right Revd Graham Cray, leader of the Fresh Expressions team, and the Revd Canon Professor Loveday Alexander, Professor Emeritus of New Testament Studies at Sheffield University. The aim of the consultation was to begin a conversation between these two groups, in the conviction that Unity and Mission are inextricable linked. A discussion document will be ready in time for the autumn – and I hope to provide a link to it from this blog.

Here is a flavour of some the themes discussed:

The call for light touch ecumenism arises out of the tension between informal and flexible local collaboration and formal ecumenical structures and agreements. There is undoubtedly a widespread frustration with formal ecumenical structures and the perception that Local Ecumenical Partnerships kill off mission. Despite this, there has been an increasing level of informal ecumenical collaboration in establishing fresh expressions. There is a real need to listen to these frustrations.

Ecumenical mission brings together different perspectives of mission which demands deep listening. How far do different confessions and communions share a common mission? How can different charisms in mission collaborate rather than compete? Can different mission strategies complement each other?’

(from my opening remarks).

‘The aim of the consultation was to select people from different perspectives, in the conviction that mission and unity are inseparable, and that there is need for reconciliation between the two perspectives. The unity of the trinity is at the heart of the Gospel and Christian disciples are drawn into that unity in the life of the Trinity. To refuse to acknowledge one another is to ignore what God has already done in calling us to discipleship.

God is a missionary God, always going ahead of us. Calvin wrote of the world as the theatre of God’s glory, and there is a sense in which the intent of God is to draw all that is into his blessing. The Church is a foretaste of that, so unity and mission are complementary activities rooted in the actions of our missionary God.’

(from David Cornick's (General Secretary of CTE) opening remarks.)

Friday, 9 July 2010

Edinburgh 1910 - 2010: Towards Unity in Mission

Follow this link for details of Towards Unity in Mission, a conference to follow up on the Edinburgh 2010 conference

This conference is being organised by Churches Together in England with representatives from the Methodist Church, Baptist Church, Church of England, Roman Catholic Church and United Reformed Church.  Ecumenical Officers from these 5 churches will stay on for a further 24 hours to reflect further on the conference theme.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Irish School of Ecumenics

The Irish School of Ecumenics has recently announced their new postgraduate programme at Trinity College Dublin.  If you are interested in a postgraduate degree or a sabbatical programme, it might be worth looking at their Intercultural Theology and Inter-religious Study programme.

The Methodist Church does not recommend courses but here is a list of courses about ecumenism we have been able to find.  If you are aware of a course that is not on this list, please provide details in a comment.
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Wednesday, 7 July 2010

New Housing Areas

This article, by Roger Paul, is reproduced, with permission from a recent Council for Christian Unity Bulletin:

 Despite the recession, there are some areas where building continues, and where the churches are working hard together to respond to challenge. The new coalition government has already made some sweeping changes in policy and funding and more are in the pipeline. Significant announcements have been made in the following areas:
  1. Funding cuts
Included in the cuts already announced are the following which will have a direct impact on local developments:
    2.    Regional Development Agencies (RDAs)

 The Government has announced it intends to abolish these bodies and replace them by Local Enterprise Partnerships (yes, LEPs). The thinking here is part of the ‘big society’ strategy, to put decision making about development, planning and regeneration into the hands of local partners.

    3.     Regional Spatial Strategies

 Along with the RDAs, these will be scrapped. Strategic planning will become the responsibility of local authorities, who, working with partners, will identify housing needs as well the land on which to build new housing.

 A document on the Government's 'Big Society' plans, published by the Cabinet Office, says that the new administration will "radically reform the planning system to give neighbourhoods far more ability to determine the shape of the places in which their inhabitants live".

 The implications of this are far reaching, and could open up possibilities for the churches to help form local strategy. It makes it even more important to work ecumenically at this level, so the churches can speak with one voice.

    4     Garden Grabbing

 Gardens are no longer brown field sites! Now they come under different rules for planning consent, which will make it more difficult in some places for people to build houses on their gardens.

    5     Benefit reforms

 Housing benefit is in the sights of Iain Duncan-Smith. The implication could be that Housing Association rents will be forced down, with a knock on effect on their ability to invest in housing stock.

Some local churches are collaborating in local areas in helping to shape the Church’s response to housing developments. It seems that the goal posts are moving, but the needs for decent housing are still there. Some of the new government’s proposals will make this work more protracted, as more schemes are put on hold, but other opportunities are opening up. For advice and information go to the Church in New Areas website.
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Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Safeguarding and Ecumenical Partnerships

This article, by Roger Paul, is reproduced with permission from the latest CCU Bulletin:

There is now a very useful checklist on the Churches Together in England website of all that an Local Ecumenical Partnership (LEP) needs to do in establishing a safeguarding policy: Checklist for Safeguarding in Single Congregation Local Ecumenical Partnerships and local ecumenical projects.

It is for use by those who have responsibility for any aspect of safeguarding children and/or vulnerable adults in Local Ecumenical Partnerships and in local projects run ecumenically. The Methodist and Anglican National Safeguarding Officer has worked on this document in collaboration with colleagues in the Christian Safeguarding Forum, the Churches' Group for Local Unity, Action for Churches Together in Scotland and CYTÛN (Churches Together in Wales). The Group for Local Unity has fully endorsed the document. The document will be revised as new legislation and guidelines on safeguarding come into force.

The checklist itself is not meant to take the place of a safeguarding policy, but to serve as an aid to ensure that nothing is passed over in this very important and sensitive area. The basic advice, contained in the check list, is for a single congregation LEP to decide to adopt the policy of one of its participating Churches, and to carry that through consistently without alteration. LEPs should not mix and match from different policies, worst of all write their own, and once they have adopted a particular policy should follow it through in practice with the procedures of the participating church whose policy has been adopted, such as obtaining CRB checks, and acting on any disclosures or suspicions of abuse. What the checklist emphasises is that all parties need to be kept informed about what has been decided; reiterated throughout is the phrase: "Has everyone who needs to know been informed?"

For your information, Pearl Luxon, the Methodist and Church of England Safeguarding Officer will shortly be leaving us. Her successor is Elizabeth Hall. Any comments about the checklist can be made at the end of this post and will be passed on.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Hope Together

Remember this?  Hope so.  Hope 08 was a brilliant example of what local churches can do together.  They expected 800 participating projects across the country and triggered 2000!  It's due to be re-launched on Friday 23 July 2010.  Soon after that there will be more details on their website. 

They are planning to tour the country with a series of road shows in the autumn, so watch their website for dates, when they become available.  They are also keen to encourage corporate area wide prayer meetings on a regular basis and will be working hard to launch them in strategic areas later in the year.

If you follow the link and scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can register your interest.  Please let me know if you would like to write about Hope Together activities for this blog.

Methodist Conference 2010 adopted Notice of Motion 205, to this effect:

The Conference celebrates the success of HOPE 08 and the integration of the whole church in a year of mission. The Conference is encouraged by reports of local Methodist church involvement in many HOPE initiatives.

On the basis of the evaluation that was done, for which the Epworth Fund paid, the Leadership team of HOPE realises that in order for it to move forward it needs to be totally ecumenical, including the participation of black majority and ethnic churches.  The HOPE team now includes: Bishop Wayne Malcolm, Christian Life City, and Pastor Yemi Adedeji, Church of the Redeemed. The HOPE Together team also have clear endorsements from Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union, Churches Together in England, Archbishop Rowan Williams, Bishop Graham Cray, as the Missional Advisor to the Archbishop, encouraging the team to go forward on Word and Deed mission towards 2014.

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Friday, 2 July 2010

Edinburgh 2010

Between 2 and 6 June 2010, a centenary conference took place in Edinburgh for a conference that took place in the same hall as this year's closing ceremony.  The 1910 World Missionary Conference brought together primarily northern churches to facilitate greater unity amongst the various strands of Christian witness.  There is plenty of information on the Edinburgh 2010 website.  This includes details of the wider study process and ways in which it is still possible to be involved in associated events around the world.

The following is a helpful account of the conference reproduced with permission from CTE News

Archbishop John Sentamu issued a reminder at the closing worship service of “Edinburgh 2010”. Jesus told his followers, “You are my witnesses.” The Anglican Archbishop of York appealed on behalf of “the crucial importance of Christian witness.” Alluding to the gospel account of Peter’s denial of Christ, he added: “Jesus today is on trial in the court of the world by our lips and lives. Jesus and his gospel are being judged.”

Encouragement to exercise loving hospitality towards others and humility in Christian outreach formed the refrains of Edinburgh 2010’s closing celebration and of the meeting’s Common Call in which delegates expressed “full awareness that God resists the proud, Christ welcomes and empowers the poor and afflicted, and the power of the Holy Spirit is manifested in our vulnerability.” As Archbishop Sentamu put it in his sermon, “Human activity only begets human activity. The prophetic Word and the Spirit make us live.” His voice echoed with an evangelising passion that recalled preachers of the past who spoke in the same space.

In June 1910, a groundbreaking World Missionary Conference drew delegates from churches and mission societies throughout the earth to the Assembly Hall of the Church of Scotland, set on The Mound near Edinburgh Castle and St Giles Cathedral. One hundred years later, on the afternoon of Sunday 6 June, more than a thousand worshippers gathered in the Assembly Hall to mark the end of the Edinburgh 2010 conference surveying world Christianity and the potential for common witness to Jesus Christ in the 21st century. Among participants in this closing celebration were the nearly 300 delegates from some 60 nations and a broad range of Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Evangelical, Pentecostal, independent and uniting churches. A “Common Call” to renewed commitment, affirmed by this year’s conference, was addressed to the Christians of this era and affirmed at the climax of the closing celebration. Diversity was clearly on display in the ecclesiastical vestments and national dress worn by worshippers in the Assembly Hall. Prayers were led in several of the world’s languages, and hymns were sung from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Oceania as well as disparate cultures of Europe. Indian dancers from Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham and an African choir were among the many forms and voices that animated the proceedings.

Historians imagined what a delegate from 1910 would make of this year’s deliberations. Among other things, they noted, it would have come as a shock that the current celebration was being video-streamed live throughout the world. On the other hand, how would a delegate from 2010 transported to an earlier time survive without the capacity to e-mail? The presence of two direct descendants of 1910 delegates from Asia was acknowledged: the granddaughter of Yun Ch’iho from Korea and the grandson of John Rangiah who had represented the Indian community in South Africa. Bishop Devamani of Dornakal, Church of South India, read excerpts of the speech given in 1910 by a young V.S. Azariah, later the first bishop of Dornakal. Further presentations stressed the need for mutuality in mission: westerners have much to learn from Christians of the east, and northerners must discover how to show greater humility and a willingness to learn from the global south.

Archbishop John Sentamu’s sermon followed a reading of Ezekiel’s prophecy that brought new life to a valley of dry bones. “As leaders in mission,” said the archbishop, “we must help our churches by acting prophetically, speaking out for freedom against injustice. Our forebears have done so in the past against slavery and more recently against apartheid, world debt and poverty. We must continue to speak out against injustice shown to asylum seekers and all in need.” He continued, “As we do this, we must remember that speaking prophetically is not the same as condemning other people’s failures, but rather helping us all towards the acceptance of common goals which uplift the heart. To help lift up the heart of a nation is an exciting challenge, and it is one which we can do together, because it is what God has called us to as part of our mission and discipleship.”

The previous evening, a final discussion session at the conference reviewed the study processes leading to 2010 and the deliberations undertaken in small groups and plenary conclaves on the Pollock Halls campus of Edinburgh University. “This is probably the most comprehensive mission gathering since 1910,” remarked Vinoth Ramachandra, a Sri Lankan leader of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students. Like other speakers, Ramachandra recognised many promising developments in the 2010 gathering yet expressed disquiet at the high percentage of religious and academic professionals compared to the many lay workers present a century earlier. He called this a “blind spot” in contemporary church gatherings, a failure to realize that “the primary work of mission takes place in the daily lives of ordinary Christian men and women”. The next such world-wide event, he said, will profit from an attempt to include more members of the laity, women, youth and representatives from the southern hemisphere. Existing boundaries need to be “deconstructed, though not destroyed”. In particular, “the artificial boundary between clergy and laity needs to be deconstructed”. The essential thing in these times, Ramachandra said, is that “boundaries of all kinds must be eroded.”

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Archbishop of Canterbury at Methodist Conference

The following is the official press release for Rowan Williams' session with the Methodist Conference.  More from Conference to follow next week.  See also the Praxis blog post, Compromise or Confrontation.

29 June 2010

Archbishop of Canterbury says Church of England could take more risks in its Covenant relationship with the Methodist Church

[Illustration: Dr Rowan Williams addresses the Methodist Conference in Portsmouth. Photo credit:... All rights reserved.]
Addressing the annual Methodist Conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said he wanted to see the Church of England and Methodist communities growing much closer together.

In a 40-minute address to the Conference in Portsmouth’s Guildhall, the Archbishop contrasted the roles of the apostles Peter and Paul in the Church, and what the contemporary Church could learn from them.

In a further 40-minute session, the Archbishop took a wide range of questions. Dr Williams was asked what risks the Church of England was taking in relation to the Covenant with the Methodist Church.

“The answer is not a lot,” Dr Williams replied. “We are being invited, in the short to middle term, to work out flexibility on models of ‘dual nationality’; that is, how two communities with two different histories can develop some genuine overlapping life.”

Dr Williams also answered a question as to whether a Covenant relationship between Anglicans and Methodists was exclusive. “A covenant ought to be a friendship written down,” he said. “It doesn’t mean there are no other friendships. If it becomes us against them; a little friendship against the world, well, God help us really.”

“Any act of reconciliation has to be mutual; Anglican clergy at every level accepting the ministry of those they are being reconciled with.”

The Methodist Church and the Church of England are in a covenant relationship. On 1 November 2003, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the General Secretary of the General Synod, together with the President, Vice President and Secretary of the Methodist Conference signed the Covenant at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen. The Covenant puts the two Churches on a path of ever-deepening relationships, mutual trust and co-operation on the road to a richer unity.

Audio and video footage of the Archbishop’s address will be available online soon on The Methodist Conference website.
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