Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Summer Pause for Methodist Ecumenical News

Dragon fruit juiceImage via Wikipedia
It's August and things are quiet, at least ecumenically.  I've decided to pause things until the end of the month as there is little to report and I can see from the stats that readers have dropped off with the holidays.

I hope to start again towards the end of the month.  If anything happens I might post the odd item or place it on Twitter.

I have a gadget that helps me find photos and sometimes it comes up with rather strange suggestions.  Based on the first two paragraphs, how did it find this one?
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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Methodist Church Website Ecumenical Section

It's August and as there are few meetings I usually take some time to review the ecumenical section of the Methodist Church website.  This is an opportunity to add information or even new pages and that is where you come in  ...

Why not have a look at the site and tell me if there is anything you would like to change?  This might be by adding to an existing page, bringing in a new page with a new theme, deleting or correcting information.  I will systematically be checking the links so there's no need to point these out to me.

The idea of the ecumenical section is to:-
  1. Present the basics about ecumenism in an accessible format (suggestions about how to make it more accessible are always welcome).  I aim for about A-level standard, sometimes with links to more challenging material.
  2. To present the whole range of ecumenical activity from the local, to the national, European and International.
So, a quick tour:
  • Start at the home page of the Methodist Church website
  • Click on the word 'Ecumenism' to the right of 'Open to the World' and this will take you to the Ecumenical Section's home page.  Scroll down and you will see I keep a rolling list of posts to Methodist Ecumenical News.  At the top of the page there are a variety of short cuts to parts of the ecumenical section.  What is Ecumenism is a basic introduction to ecumenism.
  • If you click on Ecumenical Information, this will take you to links to the main parts of the ecumenical section.
  • Click on Ecumenical news and views and this will take you to a variety of pages covering aspects of ecumenism.
  • Click on How to get involved for ideas about how to get started in ecumenical work.
  • Back to Ecumenical information and click on Ecumenism in UK and Ireland.  This will take you to information about the four nations.  Ecumenism is very different in each of the four nations. These pages include some general information and also resources for Ecumenical Officers.  The Resources pages may be particularly helpful.  Some of the resources are common to some of the nations and some are not. 
  • Back to Ecumenical Information and you will find there are also pages covering ecumenism in Europe and worldwide.
It is sometimes easy to forget, whilst working with the detailed delights and frustrations of everyday  ecumenism, the wider context of conversations that are happening at all levels.  International meetings may seem to be a long way off but can influence local ecumenism in many different ways.  For example, the Global Christian Forum, has enabled churches in the evangelical and pentecostal traditions to meet with the World Council of Churches and Roman Catholic Church.  This may well open up the possibility of new relationships locally.
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Monday, 8 August 2011

CTE Bodies in Association

MobileImage by only_point_five via Flickr
Churches Together in England has Bodies in Association.  These are Christian organisations who work in particular areas of concern, mission or study. They are naturally ecumenical and exist outside the structures of the churches.  The Bodies in Association meet together twice each year, to share something of their activities. Details of current Bodies in Association and how to register a Christian organisation can be found on the CTE website.

CTE has recently (June 2011) published a report of the activities of some of its Bodies in Association.   The list here is of the organisations in the report and the links are to articles in Methodist Ecumenical News or their websites.

I am currently reviewing the ecumenical section of the Methodist Church website.   The page Ecumenical Collaboration, covers some of these organisations and other similar organisations.  I' m happy to include details of other appropriate organisations on this page.  Drop me a comment if you have a suggestion.
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Friday, 5 August 2011

Racial Justice Sunday

This year Racial Justice Sunday is on Sunday September 11and the plans are to produce resources for based around the theme "Created by God, Treated like Slaves: Tackling Human Trafficking" and "Love your neighbour as yourself, do this and you will live" from Luke 10:27-28.

Unfortunately, the resources have been delayed and so are not yet on Churches' Together in Britain and Ireland's website.  Not to worry.  You can download this fantastic poster for church notice boards and busk it if the resources don't turn up!

CTBI write on their site:

The Churches' Racial Justice Network works for racial justice across Britain and Ireland. We aim to make a real difference in the Christian community and far beyond by raising awareness, encouraging effective working together and facilitating imaginative local initiatives. 

Racial Justice Sunday is an opportunity for all Christians in Britain and Ireland to focus their worship, prayer and action on racial justice by:
  • Celebrating human diversity.
  • Rejoicing in how far God's people have travelled together.
  • Recognising that there is much further to go both in the Church and in the world.
What are the aims? 
  • To raise awareness and deepen understanding of the diversity of culture and experience both in society and in the church.
  • To become more inclusive, outward-looking and welcoming.
  • To encourage all Christians to tackle injustice, not ignore it.
Make sure your church remembers racial justice!
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Thursday, 4 August 2011

Methodist Minister in Charge of a Church of England / Methodist LEP

17th-century pulpit in Church of St Lawrence, ...Image via Wikipedia
This post is a question and its answer.  The question was asked by an ecumenical officer and the answer comes from the Church of England.  Note this applies where the LEP is the only Church in the Parish.  Where there is another church, the incumbent there can carry out those duties the Church of England is legally obliged to provide.  I thought there was a lot of useful information in this exchange.  I have made sure it is anonymous and tidied up some of the grammar.


Is there standard guidance about what a Methodist minister cannot do in terms of Canon law and how those functions are then provided, where a Methodist Minister has sole pastoral charge of a Church of England / Methodist Local Ecumenical Partnership? It would be helpful to know if there are some questions it's best not to ask.  Issues that came to mind when we met were around sacramental matters such as Anglican parishioners not members of the LEP wanting an Anglican wedding, who leads worship if the church wants an occasional Anglican rite such as Book of Common Prayer Communion etc.


A Methodist Minister can be authorised by the bishop under Canon B 44 (4) as follows:

4.  (1) A bishop who has given his agreement to participation in a local ecu­menical project under the foregoing provisions of this Canon may by an instrument in writing made after consultation with the parochial church council of each parish or part of a parish in the area of the project,

(a)  make special provision as to the ministry in that area of clerks in Holy Orders, deaconesses, lay workers and readers beneficed in or licensed to any parish wholly or partly in that area;
(b) exercise in relation to that area his powers under Canon B 14A, Canon B 40 and Canon B 43;
(This means among other things authorise ministers of Churches other than the Church of England to preach, lead worship etc)
(c)  authorise ministers of any other participating Church with the good­will of the persons concerned to baptise in a place of worship of the Church of England in that area in accordance with a rite authorised by any participating Church;
(d) authorise a priest of the Church of England to preside in that area at a service of Holy Communion in accordance with a rite authorised by any other participating Church;
(e)  make provision for the holding in that area of joint services with any other participating  Church, including services of baptism and confir­mation;
(f)   authorise the holding, in a place of worship of the Church of England in that area, of services of Holy Communion presided over by a minis­ter of any other participating Church.

Therefore, a Methodist Minister can preside at the Eucharist, baptise, preach and generally lead worship, and so can exercise a pastoral, teaching and sacramental ministry in the area of the LEP. However, the authorisation does not extend to conducting weddings according to the rites of the Church of England (this is due to legal considerations in the Marriage Act).

The Methodist Minister will be the principal minister of the LEP - and the sole stipendiary minister. However, the rules of the Church of England are such that a Church of England Priest will also need to be licensed to the CofE parish which participates in the LEP. This can be done in a number of ways: a neighbouring incumbent, for example, the Area Dean, or a self supporting minister may be licensed to the parish as the incumbent. The role of such a person would be to offer Church of England Ministry (eg Weddings) to those who request it, and to perform such other functions required by the Canons and Regulations of the Church of England in the parish.

The leaflet, Authorisation, sets out the various arrangements possible for the provision of ministry in an LEP, from the CofE's point of view, and the leaflet, Things you wish they'd told you, gives information for a minister who is appointed to be sole minister in an LEP.  These two papers are a bit out of date but it seems they are being revised and new versions should be available soon.  If you're going to use them, I suggest you contact the Council for Christian Unity and ask for up to date copies.
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Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Harvest and the Environment

Community Mission this month features news of material for the creation time season.  I've covered some of this before but here there is more information about Creation Time and the work of A Rocha.  This is what Community Mission says:

Those looking to celebrate harvest and the environment in a new way this autumn should visit Arocha and Churches Together. Produced by Arocha, Just Food? is a resource pack designed to reclaim a biblical understanding of food and explore ways to bring God’s kingdom values of justice and restored relationships into our lives. The pack cost £11.50 inc p&p and can be purchased online. For more ideas to promote the environment around Creation Time (1 September to mid-October) check out Arocha’s Living Lightly initiative.

There is a wealth of information in these links, here are a couple of highlights:

The Second Ecumenical European Assembly adopted the following resolution: "We recommend that the churches consider and promote the preservation of Creation as part of church life at all levels. One way would be to observe a common creation day, such as the Ecumenical Patriarchate celebrates each year. Rationale: The seriousness of the ecological dilemma for the future of the human race means that churches' consciousness of it must be raised. Commitment to preservation of the creation is not an issue among many others but an essential dimension of all church life.'"  (From the 'Creation Time' site)

The proposal on the 'Creation Time' site is for a period from 1 September through to the second Sunday in October.   This can be an opportunity for environmental concerns to be expressed during the harvest season.  

The Churches Together in Britain and Ireland site offers resources, 'Our Daily Bread - Food in God's Creation'.

'What's the food like?', 'Who is providing the food?', 'Is there enough food to go round?' Our everyday talk constantly makes reference to food, which is no surprise, as food and drink are essentials for life and survival.

When we pray "Give us our daily bread" we are both acknowledging our dependence on God's generosity and our realisation that the answer to that prayer needs to include agriculture, commerce, sharing, trade-justice, animal welfare, diet and a host of other considerations.

Our Creation Time resources, which encourage and assist churches, groups and individuals to observe a Time for Creation each year between 1 September and 4 October for the protection of creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles, focus this year on Food in God's creation. May God make us more aware of his generosity and our responsibilities as we pray for our daily bread.
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Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Christian Faith in Palestine and the Middle East Today

This article is from the July edition of CTE News:

The volatile and precarious situation of Christians in the Middle East was of deep concern to the members of the February 2011 meeting of the World Council of Churches (WCC) central committee, and it was highlighted in a conference on Christians in the Middle East held in Greece. 

With the diminishing presence of Christians in the region, the central committee said in a public statement in February, the “conviviality among peoples from different faiths, cultures, civilizations, which is a sign of God’s love for all humanity, will be endangered.”  The central committee also called for a major conference on this issue for 2012.  One part of this effort was the conference in Volos, Greece, from 20 to 22 June to explore the situation from a theological, ecumenical, cultural and political perspective. 
The reality for the Christian community in the Middle East is quite stark as more and more stories in the public media tell of Christians fleeing the region or feeling increasingly threatened, even in the context of the recent democracy movements. In Iraq alone the Christian population has declined by nearly half during the past decade. In Egypt, there has been heightened violence between Muslims and Christians since the downfall of former president Mubarak.  And in Israel and Palestine, Palestinian Christians in the West Bank and Gaza continue to live under the pressure and humiliation of the Gaza blockade and Israeli occupation. 

Christian churches in the Middle East have shown signs of decline despite their continuous historical presence in different countries in the region where many of them embody a heritage of ancient patriarchal jurisdictions. This has become a growing concern as the churches there struggle to maintain their presence and at the same time contribute to a culture of peace. 
The Volos conference was co-sponsored by the WCC and Volos Academy for Theological Studies, which is a programme of the Holy Metropolis of Demetrias. Titled “Living Christian Faith in Palestine and the Middle East Today: Theological and Political Challenges in Orthodox and Ecumenical Perspectives”, its participants explored the theological, ecumenical and political perspectives of living as a Christian in the Middle East.  
A subsequent visit by the WCC youth body, Echos Commission, to Lebanon to explore how Christian youth are dealing with the realities of the church in the Middle East will take place in October. The WCC central committee has recommended “convening an ecumenical international conference in 2012 to address the new challenges Christians are facing in the Middle East, in collaboration with the churches in the region.”

Monday, 1 August 2011

Europe Day at CTE

Regions of EuropeImage via Wikipedia
Another article from this month's CTE News: 

Europe as a continent contains an enormous range of diversity, from the far northern forests of Finland to sunny Mediterranean shores, from the windy Atlantic Isles to the mountains of Transylvania. This richness of habitat and culture is matched by an equal diversity of faith communities – the Lutheran Nordic region, Catholic Spain and Italy, the Orthodox east to mention but a few. During these troubled times for the European political project, with changes threatened to the Schengen agreement and the Eurozone under pressure, the role of cross-border organisations and relationships in also undergoing scrutiny. What is the role of churches here? Can the post-WWII dream of uniting people around the Christian faith, thus preventing old enmities and divisions from fracturing Europe again, be relevant to our largely post-Christian societies? How are churches maintaining contacts and building bridges today?

On Tuesday 15 November all those with experience of church contacts in Europe, an interest in developing fellowship across borders, or curiosity about what the current state of European Church relations is, are welcome to join us at Churches Together in England for the first Europe Day. We will hear presentations from those actively involved in this sphere of church work – notably Dame Mary Tanner, European President of the World Council of Churches, Revd Canon Harvey Richardson (Community of Protestant Churches in Europe) and Very Revd John Arnold, formerly Dean of Durham and an architect of both the Porvoo and Meissen Agreements. There will also be opportunities to share experiences and to network; it will also give all of us an opportunity to explore what role CTE might have in supporting, encouraging and enabling European contacts. Lunch will be provided.
More information will follow closer to the time.
When? Tuesday 15 November from 11am-4pm   Where? CTE, 27 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9HH
RSVP by 8 November to Jana Jeruma-Grinberga, Secretary for European Church Relations, Churches Together in England, 27 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9HH     
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