Thursday, 28 July 2011

Authorisation of Ministers of Other Churches

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Yesterday, I introduced the supplementary ecumenical report, presented to Methodist Conference on 7 July 2011.  Then I focused upon the legislation to amend Standing Orders to enable ecumenical partnerships in extended areas.

The supplementary report also included legislation to enable sharing of ministry with ministers of other traditions.  Resolution 60A/4 reads:
The Conference adopts the recommendations in paragraphs 13-16 of the Supplementary Ecumenical Report and directs the Methodist Council, in consultation with the Faith and Order Committee, to undertake further work to clarify, develop and open up new ways in which people exercising authorised ministry in a Church with which the Methodist Church has a close partnership, where that Church-to-Church partnership is embodied in local partnerships, can be automatically granted recognition and authorisation to serve in and on behalf of the Methodist Church.
The paragraphs alluded to in the resolution, read as follows:
13. The Deed of Union and Standing Orders currently provide for those ordained in other Churches to be recognised and regarded as admitted into full connexion with the Conference, or authorised to serve the Methodist Church as a presbyter or deacon, or granted the status of associate presbyter or deacon.

14. Paragraphs 92-96 of the report Moving Forward in Covenant make suggestions of ways in which those provisions could be further clarified and developed so that where the Conference is in a close partnership with the equivalent authorities of another Church, and that partnership is then embodied in some local expression of it, such as a Covenanted Partnership in an Extended Area or a United Area of the Methodist and United reformed Churches, presbyters and deacons of the other Church should automatically be granted an appropriate status and authorisation without the need for the detailed vetting of individual applications by a number of different bodies.

15. It is also proposed that it be made possible for those granted the status of associate presbyter and deacon to be authorised to serve as Associate Superintendents or Chairs of District. As Associate Superintendents and Associate Chairs they would not have responsibility for or control over Methodist resources or governance bodies, which would remain autonomous. However they would be able to co-discern, co-decide and co-deploy the resources of their own Church and cofulfil their own responsibilities together with the Methodist Superintendent and Chair.

16. The Methodist Council concluded that, if viable, such developments would be of benefit in many ecumenical situations. It has therefore recommended that the Conference commission the necessary explorations of the issues with a view to any resulting proposals being brought to a future Conference.
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