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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Moving Forward in Covenant

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Yesterday I posted about the main proposals in the Joint Implementation Commission 2 (JIC2) report, Moving Forward in Covenant.  In this post I will review the remaining material in the report, to be debated at Methodist Conference 2011

Part 1 of the report reviews the history of the covenant and then, in paragraphs 17 - 30, summarises some of the developments over the first couple of years of JIC2.  One of the major developments has been  the inclusion of Welsh and Scottish Methodists, as well as representatives from the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church in Wales, on JIC2.  This section also covers the development of relations between all these churches and the United Reformed Church (para 21).

These paragraphs go on to mention other examples of collaboration, for example:
A major development has been joint work on the diaconate. This included a major consultation from 21 - 23 April 2010. There is a full report from the consultation available for those who are interested.

The remainder of the report is devoted to what JIC2 describes as 'causes for concern'.  These include 'patchy' implementation and the reasons for this are elaborated in paragraph 34.  The reasons relate to oversight (episcope), episcopacy, as well as restructuring and budgetary retrenchment in both churches.  Also, as mission has become the overall priority, 'the necessary link between unity and mission ... needs to be grasped afresh'.

The report reviews progress with the move towards women bishops in the Church of England and towards the historic episcopate in the Methodist Church.  Both moves are essential for interchangeability of ministry and have been slower than originally anticipated.  The report reviews progress with both these and concludes, in paragraph 52, that 'while the Church of England's process regarding female bishops continues and while there is no clear outcome within the Methodist Church with regard to episcopacy, there is inevitably a sense of hiatus in the structural implementation of the covenant.'
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