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Day 2

Synod Marks 21st Anniversary of Church of Ireland and Methodist Covenant

Synod Marks 21st Anniversary of Church of Ireland and Methodist Covenant

The Covenant between the Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland is soon to celebrate its 21st birthday, members of Synod heard today. Proposing the report of the Covenant Council, Canon Dr Maurice Elliott said that Covenant continued to celebrate a shared understanding in many aspects of faith, worship, heritage, ministry and governance.

The text of the Covenant mapped out ten different areas in which the two Churches were keen to explore further common life and mission, he said.  Amongst others, these included prayer for each other, mutual welcome of sacramental ministry, shared resources, joint programmes in training, participation in governance and fuller sharing of ministries. 

Dr Elliott said that over the years much work had been invested into trying to put substance on to this framework, and one prospective task now identified by the Council is that it may be timely to re–work the original document, not by altering the heads of agreement, but with a common declaration of newly identified priorities for ongoing convergence. He hoped that could be drafted in time for next year’s Synod.

He highlighted the Bill on occasional interchangeability of ministry which was agreed by Synod yesterday.

Looking ahead, he said that future aspects of the Council’s work would involve deeper exploration of liturgical rites, the need for updated regulations under charities legislation for Local Covenant Partnerships (it is hoped that these can go to the Standing Committee with a view to bringing another Bill next year), and revision of the booklet, Guidelines for the Journey, first published in 2008.

“In an overall sense, one of the principles which urgently needs to become more firmly established is that, by virtue of the Covenant, the relationship between our two Churches begins to move beyond simple ecumenism. The Council is determined to see the Covenant go forward with renewed vitality. We would respectfully suggest that, twenty–one years in, it ought to be becoming second–nature for us to think ‘covenant’ at every opportunity, and that we should be much more intentional about finding ways of substantiating the shared approach which we have come to enjoy,” Dr Elliott stated.

Speaking to the report, the Revd David Nixon, President of the Methodist Church, said that that that while we should be thinking Covenant we should also think mission, think brother and sister. He said that there were many aspects of mission which could be done better together as brothers and sisters.

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