News

Covenant Council Report 2015 for General Synod & Methodist Conference

Posted by admin on June 05, 2015  /   Posted in News

The Covenant Council

The Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland

MEMBERSHIP

Church of Ireland

Right Revd Alan Abernethy, Bishop of Connor (Co-Chair)

Ms Elva Byrne

Very Revd Nigel Dunne

Revd Dr Maurice Elliott

Revd Barry Forde (Secretary)

Mr Harold Giboney

Revd Canon Ginnie Kennerley

Revd Dr Peter Thompson

Methodist

Revd Winston Graham (Co-Chair)

Revd Donald Ker

Revd Andrew Dougherty

Revd Janet Unsworth

Revd Louise Donald

Ms Gillian Kingston

Dr Fergus O’Ferrall

Mr Nigel Beattie

Interchangeability of Ministry

2014 will be remembered as a pivotal year in the life of the Covenant between the Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland. Council was delighted with the overwhelming support given to the Bill on Interchangeability by Synod, this being an affirmation of the continued support given by Synod to the Agreed Principles in 2010 and 2011. The presentation given by, and reception afforded to, the Methodist President, Revd Dr Heather Morris, was a moment of joy as the aspirations of the Covenant became ever more realised.

The subsequent participation by the Most Revd Richard Clarke, the Most Revd Michael Jackson, and the Right Revd Harold Miller at the installation and consecration of Revd Peter Murray as President and Episcopal Minister of the Methodist Church in Ireland, was the first step in bringing interchangeability into effect. This was followed by the participation of the current Methodist President, Revd Peter Murray, and former Presidents, Revd Donald Ker and Revd Winston Graham, as Episcopal Ministers in the consecration of Rt Revd Kenneth Kearon as Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe on January 24th 2015. This was the second step required and had the effect of bringing Interchangeability into full effect.

This is a monumental step in the life of our two Churches, and a model of ecumenism that is being both observed and admired in other jurisdictions. Council is keenly aware however that we must not view the passing into law of interchangeability as being the goal or the end of the matter. Rather, it is a mandate to deepen our relationships, mission and ministry. It needs to be acted upon, and not just admired. Covenant Council is pursuing protocols for participation in services of ordination, encouraging greater and more regular communication between our two Churches at episcopal level, and in the realm of theological education, as well as undertaking to develop greater unity in the arena of lay ministry training. Council aspires to host a conference focussed on the mission of our Churches, and will look to progress this in the next year.

Local Covenant Partnerships and Projects

As indicated there is much work that is ongoing and new work enabled by interchangeability. Council was delighted to see the development, under the Covenant of the relationship at Queen’s University, Belfast. At the Methodist Conference in June 2014 the Church of Ireland Chaplain, Revd Barry Forde, was confirmed as the Methodist Chaplain, replacing Revd John Alderdice who took up a new position at Edgehill Theological College. The governance of the chaplaincy at Queen’s continues to evolve to consolidate the unity already achieved. The Church on the Hill in Maghaberry continues to strengthen the bonds of unity, whilst new appointments in Movilla for both the Church of Ireland and Methodist Church offer up renewed hope for working together. Links continue to grow between the Church of Ireland Theological Institute and Edgehill College, and Council is grateful for the student observers from the Institute and the College who attend Council meetings.

The Covenant Council continues to encourage all dioceses and parishes to look for opportunities in which the Covenant might be of assistance for ministry and mission. Further, Council continues to encourage all Churches to consider celebrating the Covenant on or around the date of 24th May, this being Wesley Day in the Church

of England.

AMICUM and IASCUFO

The Covenant Council was delighted to welcome the attendance of, and updates by, the Right Revd Harold Miller and Dr Andrew Pierce. Bishop Miller provided insights into the current work of AMICUM, the Anglican-Methodist International Commission for Unity in Mission, together with its observances on interchangeability. Revd Dr Pierce spoke of the commendation by IASCUFO, the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order, of interchangeability, recognising the importance of local context and welcoming a visible realisation of ecumenical aspirations.

Membership

The Covenant Council was delighted to welcome and is thankful for the role of Revd Tony Davidson as Presbyterian Observer on the Council.

Website

The Covenant Council website, www.covenantcouncil.com has been revised, with a forum page for Covenant Facilitators, and worship resources and Covenant Council booklets available for download.

AGENDA

The Conference receives the report.

The Conference continues to encourage congregations to celebrate the Covenant relationship with neighbouring Methodist congregations on or around Wesley Day, 24th May, each year.

Covenant Council – COI Synod Report & Motions

Posted by admin on April 23, 2014  /   Posted in News

REPORT OF THE COVENANT COUNCIL TO THE CHURCHES 2014 – This report was presented to both COI Synod and Methodist Conference

MEMBERSHIP

Church of Ireland

  • The Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh (Co-Chair)
  • Ms Elva Byrne
  • Very Rev Nigel Dunne
  • Rev Dr Maurice Elliott
  • Rev Barry Forde (Secretary)
  • Rev Canon Ginnie Kennerley
  • Rev Dr Peter Thompson
  • Vacant

Methodist

  • Rev Winston Graham (Co-Chair)
  • Rev Donald Ker
  • Rev Andrew Dougherty
  • Rev Janet Unsworth
  • Rev Louise Donald
  • Ms Gillian Kingston
  • Dr Fergus O’Ferrall
  • Mr Nigel Beattie

Interchangeability of Ministry

The primary focus of the Covenant Council has been on the proposals on Interchangeability of Ministry. The Bill before General Synod in 2014 builds on the Agreed Principles presented to, and received by, the General Synod in 2010 and 2011. It is the considered opinion of the Covenant Council that the Bill is a reflection of the mind of Synod to take a significant step forward in realising the aspirations of the 2002 Covenant between the Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland. If passed, it will open up new doors of ecumenical opportunity for both traditions as we seek to carry out the mission of God in Ireland. It is the hope of the Covenant Council that General Synod continues to affirm the journey we have been on together, and provides for the interchangeability of ordained ministries between our two denominations.

The Covenant Council is aware that, if the Bill on interchangeability is passed, it will help pave the way for further development and consideration of how lay ministries might work together, recognising the potential role that the Covenant may play in the Church of Ireland Commission on Ministry and Pioneer Ministry.

Local Covenant Partnerships and Projects

The Covenant Council is delighted to see links continue to grow between the Church of Ireland Theological Institute and Edgehill College. In the area of Pioneer Ministry there were attendees from both the Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland at conference on Pioneer Ministry hosted by Rev Ric Thorpe, St Mellitus College in London. There are further plans to grow and develop these links. During the week of prayer for Christian Unity a Methodist Communion Service, presided over by the Covenant Council member Rev Andrew Dougherty took place at the Theological Institute, with Rev Barry Forde sharing in the Ministry of the Word. There are a number of partnerships and projects that continue to grow. In January 2014, the Church on the Hill in Maghaberry took a significant step forward in a service of celebration to mark the signing of a Local Covenant Partnership, signed by the Rt Rev Harold Miller, Bishop of Down and Dromore and Rev Kenneth Robinson, District Superintendent for the Portadown District. The Church of the Good Shepherd and Primacy in Bangor continue to further the work of the Covenant, whilst the Covenant at Queen’s University, Belfast continues to be further consolidated. During Holy Week 2013 a team from QUB Chaplaincy participated in a week of outreach by the Church of Ireland parish and the Methodist church in the town of Strabane, and in 2014 a similar week of outreach took place in the Joint Project at Glencraig, in North Belfast. The Covenant Council continues to encourage all dioceses and parishes to look for opportunities in which the Covenant might be of assistance for ministry and mission.

Membership

The Covenant Council is thankful for the role of Rev Denis Campbell who acted as Presbyterian Observer on Council for a number of years and looks forward to his successor being appointed by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland in due course.

Covenant

Council also wishes to propose Mr Harold Giboney as a Church of Ireland successor to the role vacated by Mr Cyril McElhinney.

Website

The Covenant Council website, www.covenantcouncil.com has been revised, with a forum page for Covenant Facilitators and worship resources and Covenant Council booklets available for download.

Covenant Celebration

The Covenant Council is conscious that the month of September is a very busy month in the life of many parishes. Covenant Council has previously encouraged congregations to celebrate the Covenant relationship with neighbouring Methodist congregations on or around September 26 each year. Following deliberation Covenant Council agreed that an alternative date in the year might prove more accessible for many congregations. It was agreed that the 24th May, John Wesley Day in the Church of England, is a suitable date and Covenant Council encourages all churches to consider celebrating the Covenant on or around this date.

Motions to propose at General Synod

The Covenant Council also proposes the following motions for the consideration of the General Synod this year:

“That the following be elected as Church of Ireland representatives on the Covenant Council for the coming year:

  • The Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh (Co-Chair)
  • Ms Elva Byrne
  • Very Rev Nigel Dunne
  • Rev Dr Maurice Elliott
  • Rev Barry Forde
  • Mr Harold Giboney
  • Rev Canon Ginnie Kennerley
  • Rev Dr Peter Thompson”

‘That General Synod continues to encourage congregations to celebrate the Covenant relationship with neighbouring Methodist congregations on or around John Wesley Day, 24th May each year.’

‘Where we are now’ – 2014 Update

Posted by admin on April 04, 2014  /   Posted in News

Below is an Update which was published in the Church of Ireland Gazette on 4th April 2014 Prepared by Archbishop Richard Clarke The Revd Winston Graham Co-Chairs of the Covenant Council

In 2002, a Covenant between the Church of Ireland and the Methodist Church in Ireland was formally approved and accepted by the General Synod in May and the Methodist Conference in June. On 26th September, it was signed by the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland and the Church of Ireland Primate of All Ireland, acting on behalf of both churches.

The basis of the Covenant was an acknowledgement that each Church belongs to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, and participates fully in the apostolic mission of the whole people of God.

Consequently, the Covenant states – “We believe that God is calling our two Churches to a fuller relationship in which we commit ourselves:

1. To share a common life and mission;

2. To grow together so that unity may be visibly realised.”

One of the most significant steps towards these goals has been the Council’s work on interchangeability of ministries. Key to the progression has been the recognition of an expression of the historic episcopate within each tradition.

Interim proposals relating to this were endorsed by the governing bodies of both Churches in 2010. More developed proposals were presented and received by Synod and Conference in 2011. In 2012, final approval was given by the Methodist Conference to the scheme of interchangeability. In 2013, the necessary legislation to enable the same scheme passed its first stage at General Synod. The second and final stage comes before General Synod in 2014.

The rationale and outworkings of this are that:

1. The Church of Ireland recognizes that the office of President of the Methodist Church in Ireland gives specific and personal expression to the historic episcopate as gifted to the whole Church of God.

2. The title ‘episcopal minister’, embraced by the Methodist Church in Ireland, expresses the role of serving and former Presidents in a manner consonant with, and parallel to, that in which the Church of Ireland describes the role of personal oversight exercised by a bishop.

3. The President of the Methodist Church in Ireland and at least two former presidents in the first instance (and at least two episcopal ministers thereafter) participate fully in the ordination/consecration of Church of Ireland bishops to symbolise and effect the consonance between the two traditions’ understanding of personal and collegial episcope.

4. At least three Church of Ireland bishops in the first instance (and at least two thereafter) participate fully in the installation and consecration of the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland to symbolise and effect the consonance between the two traditions’ understanding of personal and collegial episcope.

5. After both 3 and 4 above have taken place, presidents of the Methodist Church in Ireland and Church of Ireland bishops should participate fully – as often as is practicable – in the ordination of priests or presbyters of the other tradition.

6. Both Churches will continue to explore the full meaning, role and function of the diaconal order/ministry. The Church of Ireland accepts that the diaconal ministry may be understood in a variety of forms, including that of probationers in the Methodist Church in Ireland.

7. Under the scheme of interchangeability, individual clergy/ministers will come under the polity and discipline of the Church in which they serve.

The working out of the above will lead to a full mutual recognition of the other Church’s ministries and thus to their interchangeability. The Covenant Council gives thanks for the variety of shared ministries and projects that have emerged throughout Ireland over the past decade.

We look forward to exploring other areas in which work may be undertaken in pursuit of the goals of the Covenant.

We believe that this work is part of a significant process that continues as we endeavour to work out together the goals of the Covenant. In trust we commit this to God for His greater glory and the apostolic mission of the whole people of God.

Archbishop Richard Clarke The Revd Winston Graham Co-Chairs of the Covenant Council

^ Back to Top