Report of the Covenant Council received by Synod
“The work of the Covenant Council, for the sake of the world, is the pursuit of truth in an atmosphere of love. It is about the necessary theological study that facilitates the shared pursuit of holiness. It is about deepening unity between a pair of Churches too long disjoin’d,” explained Bishop Michael Burrows in proposing the report of the Covenant Council at General Synod on Thursday evening (September 30).
The role of the Covenant Council is to oversee and deepen the special relationship between the Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland. A key component of this is the Interchangeability of Ministry, the theological foundations of which were agreed by Synod and the Methodist Conference some years ago.
Bishop Burrows noted that the agreed understanding that Methodist Presidents and past Presidents had been called to a distinctive and lifelong ministry of personal episcope within the Church was particularly important. That reality was recognised in the manner of their installation and consecration as episcopal ministers, he said. He added that it is a joy each year for Church of Ireland bishops to join in laying hands on the incoming President, particularly so this year as the President is his good friend, the Revd Dr Sahr Yambasu.
The Council continued to oversee shared worship, common witness and endeavour across the land, the bishop said. He said there was still much to be done to build upon interchangeability. He outlined areas still in need of attention which included: movement between the Churches by clergy, particularly in the context of Eucharistic presidency; mutual understanding of situations where one Church may have emergency measures in relation to the provision of sacraments for which there would not be provision in the other; while there is interchangeability of ministry between those ordained within both Churches, there may be outstanding anomalies concerning those ordained in other contexts who have been accepted into ministry in one Church but might not readily be received into ministry in the other.
The report was seconded by Canon Dr Maurice Elliott who said that one of the other aspirations of the Covenant was to cooperate in training for ministry. He spoke warmly of the relationship with Edgehill Theological College.
Speaking to the report, the Revd Stephen Farrell asked the council the extent to which the Churches accepted one another’s ecclesiastical discipline.
The following were elected as Church of Ireland representatives on the Covenant Council for the coming year: The Rt Rev Michael Burrows, Bishop of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory (Co–Chair), Ms Elva Byrne, Very Rev Nigel Dunne, Rev Canon Dr Maurice Elliott, Ven Barry Forde and Rev Claire Kakuru.