Monday, 20 June 2011

A Major Development in Shared Ministry

Perhaps the most significant ecumenical initiative at this year's Methodist Conference is to be found in part 2 of the JIC2 report Moving Forward in Covenant.  In this post I will outline the proposals.  If this interests you I strongly recommend you read the report to get the full picture.

The resolution 60/03 Conference will be asked to consider is as follows:
The Conference receives the Interim Report of the Joint Implementation Commission entitled “Moving Forward in Covenant”.

This means the necessary legislation, mentioned in the report, will take place at a future Conference, presumably after members of the Methodist Church have had time to reflect on the proposals.

There are two main proposals in the report at paragraphs 61 and 65.  They read as follows:

A Covenant Partnership in an Extended Area would be made by the bishop of the diocese and the appropriate authority of the Methodist Church, establishing a local ecumenical partnership within the whole, or part of the area of the diocese and the appropriate Methodist circuits (and the district(s) of which they are part). This would enable the bishop to authorise shared ministry within the provisions of Canon B 44.4. In Methodist terms, it would also allow for shared ministry, by identifying the places where Anglican priests and deacons can be appointed by the Conference to serve the Methodist Church as associate presbyters or deacons under Standing Order 733A.

Approval has also been given to standardised procedures and proformas for Church of England parishes and Methodist churches to establish local covenant partnerships within the provisions of Canon B 44. The bishop can take the initiative and approve the use of these standardised procedures in his diocese, and encourage parishes to take up the initiative locally.

The section on covenanted partnerships in extended areas describes how the provisions of Canon B44 can be extended to cover whole dioceses or parts of dioceses.  This is coupled with the Methodist Church extending its provisions for associate ministers to allow appropriately qualified people to become associate Superintendents or Chairs of Districts.

Whilst this would not result in interchangeability of ministry, it would significantly simplify the co-ordination of shared ministry across a large area.  There would be no need, for example, for every Anglican priest assigned to work with Methodists to apply for associate minister status.  The extended area arrangement would be an agreement between churches and so the role of ministers assigned by either denomination to the extended area would automatically be recognised.

In this post I've tried to summarise the main points in the proposal.  I will follow this proposal over the current months, highlighting developments as they happen.  This will be a highly significant development and comments with your thoughts would be welcome and helpful.  There are likely to be questions and issues specific to certain areas and I would be happy to respond to them.
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  1. Angela Shier-Jones replied on Twitter this morning: "significant, yes but perhaps not for the right reasons. Great for the Anglicans ie we become more Anglican: but for Methodists?"

  2. Angela Shier-Jones has blogged about the JIC2 proposals here: