The General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa NZ has approved a proposed covenant between the Methodist and Anglican Churches.
The covenant commits the two churches to work toward closer relations within the search for the visible unity of the church. The covenant will now be considered by Methodist Conference 2008.
Methodist Church of NZ Faith and Order Committee convenor Rev Dr Terry Wall and President Rev Brian Turner were on hand when the covenant was approved at the Anglican Church’s bi-annual General Synod, which was held in Wellington last month.
Terry says the Methodist and Anglican churches first entered negotiations in the 1970s. Since then the two churches have been on similar journeys. Both have taken the Treaty of Waitangi seriously and created bi-cultural structures, both have embraced the greater diversity of our society and our churches, and both have grappled with issues of sexuality.
"A covenant relationship between the two churches is a theological notion. It is a relationship both partners enter into freely and willingly. It is a deep commitment that allows for robust and vigorous exchange of views but at the same time expresses a willingness to stay together," Terry says.
The covenant commits the two churches to develop a safe ecumenical space where they can explore uncomfortable questions. It also establishes an ongoing dialogue that seeks to realise their common life and mission and to share the distinctive contributions of their traditions.
Under the covenant they will provide opportunities welcome each other’s baptised members to participate in the fellowship, worship and mission of their churches. They will also celebrate together annually their common faith through a focus on the offerings to the church of John and Charles Wesley who owned both the Anglican tradition and the Methodism.
One area the covenant will develop is the unification of the two churches’ ministries. Whereas the Methodist Church fully recognises the ordination of Anglican ministers and they can work within the Methodist system, this full recognition is not mutual. The Anglican Church recognises the ordination of Methodist presbyters for ministry within the Methodist Church and Uniting Congregations but they must be re-ordained to work within the Anglican system.