|Resources explore United Methodist-Episcopal ties|
By Linda Bloom*
May 17, 2007 | NEW YORK (UMNS)
United Methodists and Episcopalians have a new way to get to know each other.
Building upon the interim agreement of shared eucharist approved by
the United Methodist Council of Bishops in 2005 and the Episcopal
General Convention in 2006, the two denominations have released
resources to promote study of the agreement at all levels.
"Make Us One With Christ" is a report based on the sessions between
the Episcopal and United Methodist dialogue teams from 2002-2006. A
second resource is a study guide version of the report that includes
discussion points, questions for reflection and worship tips.
United Methodist Bishop William Oden, who was co-chairperson of the
dialogue with Episcopal Bishop Frank Brookhart, said the interim sharing
agreement is "at the point of asking the churches to be partners in
From local congregations to annual conferences and dioceses, all
levels of the two bodies are encouraged to use the resources as they
The Council of Bishops is leading the process of dialogue for The
United Methodist Church in coordination with the denomination's
Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns.
“Each church retains its own identity and
its own polity but … sees each other as full members of the one holy,
catholic and apostolic church.”–Bishop William Oden
Oden said the process between United Methodists and Episcopalians "is
open-ended" but that both denominations hope the final result will be a
formal relationship in full communion - a sharing of faith, sacraments,
ministry and mission.
In such a relationship, "each church retains its own identity and its
own polity but … sees each other as full members of the one holy,
catholic and apostolic church," he said.
The report of the dialogue covers points of shared theology,
information about the shared heritage of the two churches, explanations
of the character and ethos of each body and a discussion of what it
means to be in full communion.
"Our drawing closer together in full communion will allow for a more
faithful witness as we engage more fully and effectively in God's
mission to the world," says the introduction to the report's section on
In some regions, interactions between United Methodists and
Episcopalians already are occurring, Oden reported. For example, Seattle
area United Methodists, led by Bishop Edward Paup, are conducting
special services with the Episcopal Church. In Des Moines, Iowa, Bishop
Gregory Palmer and the Episcopal diocese "are in joint conversations at
Dialogue between the two denominations began after the 1948 Methodist
General Conference and the Episcopal General Convention voted to form
joint commissions on union. Those talks were set aside in the mid-1960s
when the Consultation on Church Union was formed. "The nine
denominations of COCU agreed they would not enter bi-lateral
conversations as long as COCU was in process," Oden said.
In the 1980s, "when it became evident that COCU would not go forward,
bilateral dialogues began to resume," he said. The most recent round of
dialogues began in 2002.
Bishop William Oden
A resolution to ratify the action of the Council of Bishops approving
the interim agreement will be presented next spring to the 2008 United
Methodist General Conference.
The report and study guide for "Make Us One With Christ" are
available for $2.95 each. For ordering information, contact the
Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (212) 749-3553.
Both the report and the dialogue sessions were funded through The United
Methodist Church's Interdenominational Cooperation Fund and The General
Convention of the Episcopal Church as part of the Office of the
Presiding Bishop. More information about the Interdenominational
Cooperation Fund can be found at www.umcgiving.org.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.
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