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Day 3

Covenant Council Highlights Progress with the Methodist Church of Ireland

The report of the Covenant Council was presented to General Synod this morning. The Very Revd Nigel Dunne proposed the report and outlined the work of the council over the last year.

He said work over the last year had brought out issues that have arisen in facilitating the operation of the interchangeability of ministry between the Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church. The issues have raised questions as to the extent ministries are interchangeable outside of direct ‘transfers’ of clergy from one polity to the other, Dean Dunne said.

Among the issues were the use of the Book of Common Prayer rite, the need for episcopal permissions, the involvement of Methodist Presidents in ordinations and vice versa and the question of stationing.

“Because these matters have come to light, the joint working party of six people referred to in the report has been constituted to work alongside the already existing group of church leaders from both traditions, the latter of which only meets once or twice a year.  Because these issues have arisen as the reality of the historic decision of this Synod and the Methodist Conference in 2014 to allow for interchangeability ‘beds in’ there is significant and careful work by all involved to be done in the coming year,” he said.

He said that the Church of Ireland had failed to formally ratify the guidelines and protocols for partnerships and projects. He urged the Church of Ireland to move forward with urgency in drawing up a full set of ecumenical canons and other legislation to assist in building and strengthening existing and new ecumenical relationships.

Seconding the report the Revd Barry Forde said that the issues were the scaffolding but they were not the building. He said that the purpose was mission to make the kingdom of Christ known to those around us. He highlighted the many initiatives in which the Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church work together. He urged everyone to recognized the opportunity to work and grow together.

Speaking to the report, Gillian Kingston of the Methodist Church said she was emboldened by the word ‘mission’. She said there were a number of Methodists involved in Church of Ireland committees but noted the absence of a Methodist on the Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue. She highlighted other issues in the Covenant which needed to be picked up. She said religious chaplaincy at third level was under threat.

The Revd Peter Thompson (Armagh) said huge progress had been made on the Covenant Council but nothing had happened since the agreement on interchangeability of ministry. He said the many potential issues should not stop us moving forward in love.

The report was accepted. The motion on membership of the Covenant Council was approved and the motion encouraging congregations to celebrate John Wesley Day on May 24 .