Methodist unity 'by end of decade'
ACNS 2851 - ENGLAND - 2 February 2002
[The Three Crowns (Diocesan News from Bristol to Swindon)] The Anglican Bishop of Bristol has been at the forefront of leading the Church of England to the brink of an historic pact with the Methodist Church.
Last month the two Churches published a covenant that could lead to unity within a decade.
They spoke of common ground rediscovered, affirmed the validity of both Churches� doctrines and committed themselves to overcoming obstacles to the "full visible unity of Christ�s Church" for the first time since the Methodists broke away more than 250 years ago.
We now wait to see whether General Synod and the Methodist Conference consent to the covenant this year. If they do, there could be unity by the end of the decade.
The three-year formal conversations were co-chaired by Bishop Barry Rogerson, Bishop of Bristol, and the Revd John Taylor, Chairman of the Liverpool Methodist District. Bishop Rogerson said, "This is a significant step forward and continues a process that could well change the face of English Christianity � which would be in obedience with God�s gift and
Mr Taylor described the covenant as "no big deal" on one level. "We have recognised each other as true Christians at grassroots level for years," he said. "But in terms of our national Churches, the report takes a major and significant step that will make wider things possible. I would love to see the unity of our Churches tomorrow. We can no longer afford the luxury of
Stumbling blocks still to be negotiated include the Anglicans� role as the established Church; the absence of female bishops in the Anglican Church, while the Methodists insist that all appointments must be open to all; and Communion protocol, in which the use of alcoholic wine is just one issue.
The goodwill shown all round at last month�s launch was palpable, but those with long memories of past setbacks know that it is not all over yet.
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