Image via WikipediaHere is the final extract from this year's ecumenical report to Methodist Conference about ecumenical activities in Scotland.
The Partnership between the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Methodist Church in Scotland, and the United Reformed Church National Synod of Scotland (the EMU Partnership)
Steady progress between the three denominations continues to be made. At a meeting on 14 March 2011 a work-plan, remits and terms of reference were developed. From 2012 it is proposed to operate the partnership with an “Oversight Group” and a “Contact and Implementation Group”. Standing “Work Groups” and timelimited “Task Groups” were also considered: the Work Groups being likely to include one on “Ministries” and one on “Learning/Training”.
Significant developments within the three denominations include the Methodist Church District Development Team Review; the Scottish Episcopal Church’s “Whole Church Mission and Ministries Policy Process; and the United Reformed Church’s “Advertising a Welcome” programme. The potential impact of these and other developments were discussed in the Partnership.
Perhaps the most significant progress is being made in areas of training of both ministers and laity. An example of cooperation with EMU partners is a series of three events under the banner “Shaping the Journey” at Dunblane Cathedral.
The Church of Scotland Third Article Declaratory
The Church of Scotland Third Article Declaratory sets out their undertaking to provide ministry across the whole of Scotland, which is one of the bases for their being a national Church. Their General Assembly last year reaffirmed this article. However, in practical terms with shortages in ministers it is proving nearly impossible to enact. A Commission to explore how they can fulfil the Third Article declaratory is in progress and reports to next year’s General Assembly. Along with several other Churches, Methodists have been invited to contribute to the work of the Commission. There may be ways of exploring how ministries may meaningfully be shared in a number of areas, building on the fact that Methodists are already assisting in the delivery of ministry in a number of Church of Scotland charges.
Building upon an ecumenical forum held last year, another was due to be held in May 2011. This would draw together Methodists and those from partner churches in Scotland who are interested in further developments of ecumenical relationships. The forum was to explore where the Methodist Church in Scotland is against objectives set out in the Swanwick Declaration in 1987; explore how its local ecumenical relationships are developing; consider from an ecumenical perspective the District Development Team Review of the Scotland District; and develop ideas on how it might continue to “journey together” with partner Churches.
Action of Churches Together in Scotland (ACTS): Ecumenical Reviews
There are two aspects of ecumenical life in Scotland currently under review. Firstly, the National Sponsors Body is seeking to explore denominational perspectives of how effective local ecumenical partnerships are in a changing environment of decreasing resources and under the impact of new legislation (most notably charity law). The second is a broader review asking the Churches to reflect on and respond to the Swanwick Declaration to assess where we now are on our ecumenical journey together. Each denomination will be asked to speak to this at the ACTS residential meeting of members in October 2011.