Mission Center: The Episcopal Church: Partnerships

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The 1988 Lambeth Conference, expressing regret that there was no international dialogue with churches of the Methodist tradition, proposed to the World Methodist Council that the omission be put right. The Council agreed, and the Anglican - Methodist International Commission met in 1992 and 1993, and an interim report Sharing in the Apostolic Communion was sent to the churches of both communions with a request for advice. The Standing Commission issued an Episcopal Church response in 1995 (available from the Ecumenical Office). A full report from the International Commission was issued in 1996.

A pioneering regional North Carolina United Methodist - Episcopal Dialogue, begun in 1992, continues to explore relations between the churches and to consider the interim report from the International Commission. In 1994 the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church, responding to General Convention - initiated explorations, voted to "affirm the bilateral conversation to begin between the United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Church, USA, initiated by the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns".

The mandate for a United Methodist-Episcopal dialogue is found in resolution A029 of the 1994 General Convention, which calls for “...the development of relationships between congregations of the Episcopal Church and those of our sister churches in the Consultation on Church Union for the purpose of common worship and study along with joint efforts in behalf of the mission of the Church....”

The 1998 Lambeth Conference, in resolution IV.17, recommends that member Churches of the Anglican Communion engage with their Methodist counterparts in study and the search for unity. Specifically, the Lambeth resolution recommends that a Joint Working Group with the World Methodist Council “prepare, in full accordance with the principles set out in the report of the Anglican-Methodist International Commission, guidelines for moving beyond acknowledgement to the reconciliation of churches and, within that, the reconciliation of ordained ministries and structures for common decision making.”

In 2000, a joint Methodist-Episcopal steering committee established the goals, timetable, personnel, and budget for the dialogue. The ecumenical officers of Province 2 and in North Carolina have offered to provide an arena for local Methodist-Episcopal dialogues. In July 2002 a Steering Committee for a United Methodist-Episcopal bilateral dialogue met to set an agenda for the dialogue. That meeting was held in February 2003.

For information on the Anglican–Methodist and Anglican–Reformed bilateral conversations, see THE AGROS REPORT: A Report of the Ecumenical Advisory Group of the Anglican Communion in preparation for The Lambeth Conference 1998

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