The Methodist Conference in Britain have voted to take a significant step towards a new relationship with the Church of England. Conference representatives meeting in Llandudno voted yesterday by 277 votes to 86 to enter into an Anglican-Methodist Covenant. The Covenant now requires the Church of England General Synod to likewise accept the proposals, when it meets in York the week after next. A joint report of the Methodist Church and Church of England proposed the national covenant between the two Churches. The Covenant would be a mutual affirmation for the first time of the life and ministry of each other's churches. The Methodist Co-chair of the Joint Liaison Group that brought the report to the Conference is the Rev John Walker, who is also Chairman of the Chester & Stoke Methodist District. He said to the Conference: "In one sense, this is a small step that replicates what is already going on at local level in some places. In another sense, it is singularly significant. We will be crossing a threshold into a new place." He said: "This Covenant takes the ecclesial traditions of Anglicans and Methodists seriously. It is realistic about our differences. It is not a takeover, but a proper equal partnership. It takes us to where we can give priority to the obstacles between us." The Anglican Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Rev Ian Cundy, is the Anglican Co-chair of the Joint Liaison Group. He told the Conference: "I hope that we can go forward in faith, that the issues that still divide us will be resolved in the midst of our common life in Christ. We pray that in covenanting together, we can walk a converging path." The Methodist Conference also resolved to encourage Methodist Districts, Circuits and local churches to continue to work with the dioceses, deaneries and parishes of the Church of England for a growing together in worship, prayer, mission and service and increased sharing of resources, planning and decision-making, wherever possible with other partner churches. If the Covenant is accepted by the Church of England, it is anticipated that it will be signed later this year. The President, Vice-President and Secretary of the Methodist Conference would be the Methodist signatories. A joint implementation commission will be set up to monitor and promote the implementation of the Covenant.
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