Episcopalians, Methodists propose full-communion agreement

Proposal needs approval of denominations’ governing bodies

The Episcopal Church-United Methodist Dialogue Committee met in April in Charlotte, North Carolina.

[Episcopal News Service] A group of Episcopalians and Methodists has released its proposal for full communion between the two denominations.

Full implementation of the proposal will take at least three years. The Episcopal Church General Convention and the United Methodist Church General Conference must approve the agreement, which culminates 15 years of exploration and more than 50 years of formal dialogue between the two churches. General Convention next meets in July 2018 in Austin, Texas. The General Conference’s next meeting is in 2020.

The 10-page proposal, titled “A Gift to the World, Co-Laborers for the Healing of Brokenness,” says it “is an effort to bring our churches into closer partnership in the mission and witness to the love of God and thus labor together for the healing of divisions among Christians and for the well-being of all.”

Montana Bishop Frank Brookhart, Episcopal co-chair of the dialogue, and Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, United Methodist co-chair, wrote in a recent letter that “the relationship formed over these years of dialogue, and the recognition that there are no theological impediments to unity, pave the way for this current draft proposal.”

In the coming months, there will be opportunities for feedback, regional gatherings and discussions on the proposal, according to a May 17 press release.

“We encourage you to reach across denominational lines to establish new relationships and deepen existing relationships by shared study of these materials and mutual prayer for the unity our churches,” Brookhart and Palmer wrote. “We believe that this proposal represents a significant witness of unity and reconciliation in an increasingly divided world and pray that you will join us in carrying this work.”

Additional related information, including historical documents, is available here.

The Episcopal Church defines “full communion” to mean “a relation between distinct churches in which each recognizes the other as a catholic and apostolic church holding the essentials of the Christian faith.” The churches “become interdependent while remaining autonomous,” the church has said.

The Episcopal Church-United Methodist Dialogue Committee, which developed the proposed agreement, says the two denominations are not seeking a merger but that they are “grounded in sufficient agreement in the essentials of Christian faith and order” to allow for the interchangeability of ordained ministries, among other aspects of the proposed agreement.

“We are blessed in that neither of our churches, or their predecessor bodies, have officially condemned one another, nor have they formally called into question the faith, the ministerial orders, or the sacraments of the other church,” the group said.

The Episcopal-Methodist proposal also benefited from the fact that Anglicans across the Communion and Methodists elsewhere in the world have an on-going dialogue, the group said. The dialogue launched a report in 2015, “Into All the World: Being and Becoming Apostolic Churches”, describing its progress. The launch highlighted a then-new new relationship of full communion between Irish Anglican and Methodists churches, and the historic concrete steps towards an inter-changeable ministry.

The Episcopal-United Methodist full-communion proposal acknowledges that the United Methodist Church “is one of several expressions of Methodism” and notes that both denominations have been in dialogue with the historically African American Methodist churches for nearly 40 years. They have also worked with African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), African Methodist Episcopal Church Zion, (AME Zion) and Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME) in various ecumenical groups.

The Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church have taken some interim steps toward full communion in recent years. In 2006, they entered into Interim Eucharistic Sharing, a step that allowed for clergy of the two churches to share in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper under certain guidelines.  In 2010, the dialogue group issued a summary of its theological work called “A Theological Foundation for Full Communion between The Episcopal Church and The United Methodist Church”.

The proposal for full communion outlines agreements on the understanding of each order of ministry. The ministries of lay people, deacons Episcopal priests and United Methodist elders or presbyters (elder is the English translation of presbyter) would all be seen as interchangeable yet governed by the “standards and polity of each church.”

Both churches have somewhat similar understandings of bishops, according to the proposal.

“We affirm the ministry of bishops in The United Methodist Church and The Episcopal Church to be adaptations of the historic episcopate to the needs and concerns of the post-[American] Revolutionary missional context,” the dialogue says in the proposal. “We recognize the ministries of our bishops as fully valid and authentic.”

The Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church would pledge that future consecrations of bishops would include participation and laying on of hands by at least three bishops drawn from each other’s church and from the full-communion partners they hold in common, the Moravian Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The Episcopal Church currently is in full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, India; Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht; the Philippine Independent Church; the Church of Sweden and the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church. It is also engaged in formal bilateral talks with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Roman Catholic Church via the U.S. Conference of Bishops.

More information about the Episcopal Church’s dialogue with the United Methodist Church is here.

The work of the Episcopal-United Methodist Dialogue is enabled by two General Convention resolutions: 2015-A107 and 2006-A055.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is senior editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

 

Comments

  1. Father Charlie Grover says:

    This is great and welcome news!

  2. PJCabbiness says:

    I strongly oppose this union. What purpose is served by continuing to liturgically and theologically dilute our denomination? We are all free to choose our place and type of worship. This is an unnecessary and to many, an unwanted step in the wrong direction.

    • Jon Spangler says:

      Are we not called to be “one body in Christ” as the church universal?
      Why, indeed, should we NOT pursue union at God’s Table? Jesus invited His friends to eat with Him
      at one table, after all…

    • Kim Triplett says:

      Dilute? Please expkain. What do you mean by using this word?

    • Richard Pate says:

      As a retired member of the military I had found it difficult to always find an episcopal church. With this type of agreement I’m would still been able to take communion.

    • Michael Smyser IV says:

      Right on. Liturgically different for a reason
      That’s what makes us all unique in our identity process yet one with Christ
      Methodists should don’t get it. Unfortunately they never had and as their group dwindles without any real purpose to hold on to they attempt to attach to another group in hopes to save their social status skin.

    • Steve West says:

      Dilute? That is an inappropriate word for what appears to me a matter of seeking common ground, mutual affirmation of each other, and mutual recognition of ministries. Jesus prayed that we may be one, even as he and the Father are one. There is absolutely no plan to disturb either church’s theology, liturgy, or polity. To call this dilution sounds like you are calling others “mudbloods.”

  3. Canon Flagler says:

    Glad to see this on some levels and that the bishop’s will agree to all lay hands on each other for future right order, but what about the homophobic actions of the Methodist Church against its clergy and people?

  4. Doug Ousley says:

    I left the Methodist Church for the Episcopal Church because the Methodists have a different understanding of sacraments and no apostolic succession. This is a truly bad idea.

    • Steve West says:

      Why is it a bad idea because they are different? They do have a somewhat but not dramatically different sacramental theology (Methodist sacramental theology is rooted in Nonjuror Anglicanism by the way, one of our historical voices), and they do practice apostolic succession through ordination by bishops, though it has one breach in it that was done for practical missionary purposes.

  5. Rev. Charlie Kendall says:

    This is great. I am retired United Methodist minister who attends The Church of the Ascension Episcopal Church in Montgomery, Al. My son attends Holy Cross Episcopal School where I morning pray chapel services, however, I am unable to serve on Wednesday because we celebrate the Eucharist . I am even volunteering at St. John’s VBS. John Wesley never wanted to divide the church nor start a new denomination. John Wesley died an ordained Anglican priest not a Methodist preacher.

    • Chris Johnson says:

      I also left the Methodist Church for the Episcopal Church. John Wesley was an Anglican Priest. I agree on full communion only. Not a merger. As an Episcopalian I do not want the awesome liturgy changed or affected. I appreciate aspects of my Methodist background but am happily Episcopalian.

  6. NO, no no no no. Just no. I do not believe the Anglican tradition is served by being diluted with what a colleague once called “Brand X Christianity” … and as a former Methodist, I just don’t want to be a Methodist in any way, shape, or form. Sorry. So, no.

  7. Bill Rice says:

    The Methodist ministers are not ordained in succession. The Episcopal Church still has priestly succession.

    • Patricia L. Farnell says:

      The problem with exchanging pulpits is that Methodists think the sermon is the most important thing going on Sundays. Episcopalians want a sermon of no more than 20 minutes, not 45 minutes to an hour. If you can’t say it in 20 minutes, you don’t understand what you are trying to say.

  8. Dave Buckley says:

    I agree with other responders–the Methodist denomination has not yet resolved the issue of the ordination gays to any of their offices. i don’t see it working.
    secondly, i am really tired of the “watering down” of the liturgy. I used to attend the cathedral in my home town after having been away for awhile and was disappointed with the entire service beginning before the service began. people were shouting back and forth across the pews and in the sanctuary area before the service, hardly anyone acknowledged the altar. and to top it off the Sunday i attended one of the associate priests decided to have an open Pepsi seated next to the celebrant seated behind the communion table. and drank from it during the service. finally, i was handed a program for the service when every pew had the BOC. i wondered why i was handed the entire order of service when the BOC was there until i opened a couple of them only to find scribbling by children throughout and pages torn out or partially torn.
    what has happened to dignity and reverence due the service . poor formation in my opinion and an effort to please the nones and occasional churchgoers. well, it didn’t please me and i have never been back.

    • John Norton says:

      This has been my experience also at my previous Southern Baptist Church. I was bothered in my personal desire to preworship in the sanctuary before the service started. There was much commotion, loud conversation, and children running about as if it were a playhouse. Quiet meditation and prayer was impossible. I have found this to be the case in many churches where I have worshiped before coming to my present church and the Episcopal faith.

      I love our liturgy and entire form of worship to include a Eucharist that now has more meaning than ever before because of the way we do it that is different than any other faith outside of the Anglican convention. I have attended many other faiths and participated in their form of worship.
      and none have been nearly as satisfying in drawing me closer to the Holy Spirit as we worship together in a loving community with each other.

      The call for unity is misguided without the elements of true worship being present. Yes, perhaps our numbers in many areas are down but the knee-jerk reaction of simply adopting the demands of the current culture is surely not the answer. Unless we can minister to the needs of peoples hearts and lives we are not building on the firm foundation of the apostolic, catholic church. Those are the issues in which we must find unity, not in adopting in adopting the current popular fads of the culture.

  9. Jim Jordan says:

    From a pragmatic POV this is an intriguing idea. I’m part of a thriving Episcopal/Lutheran Mission in an isolated (50 miles to the nearest stoplight, 70 to the nearest fast food, two hours to the nearest hospital), rural (10K people along 60 miles of coastline) community. There is a struggling 100 year old UMC church not far from us. Full communion would encourage expanding shared outreach efforts and sharing assets, including supply clergy. Understand that larger Episcopal, Lutheran, and UMC churches prefer not to dilute their traditions, and like Called to Common Mission, an Episcopal/UMC agreement should not force any dilution; that is, any cooperation should develop organically, as has cooperation with the ELCA.

  10. Joel Watson says:

    I spent an hour writing something here but then thought against it. Just to say it was my Methodist minister that almost 60 years ago told me to join the Episcopal Church, since “you will never see another Methodist Church like”Main Street.” And now, “Qu’est-ce que cela fait? Tout est grâce.”

  11. Doug Desper says:

    I do not believe that John Wesley would recognize the modern Methodist movement’s worship, much more its organization. In many places the worship is loose and unconcerned about elements like Confession, the Lord’s Prayer or Nicene Creed (this despite the “official” looking Services as found in their Hymnal). Methodist worship often takes the form of the opinions and tastes of the pastor with key elements looked on as optional. Altars or Communion Tables are sometimes just places to make displays, leave offering plates, or create Martha Stewart-like adornments instead of our (and Wesley’s) hope for frequent Communion.

    As this is pursued we had better have eyes wide open on the “average” Methodist Church and not just on the hopeful desires of its leading legislative voices – which often do not have the same pace as the pews. We should insist on never giving an inch for using the Book of Common Prayer. John Wesley’s insistence on that standard has escaped the attention and concern of his spiritual descendants but it should never escape ours.

    • Nelda Mohr says:

      I welcome this communion, but I agree that the Episcopal Church needs to be wary of the casual worship of some United Methodist churches. My family left the UMC for the Episcopal Church because our local church was sent a pastor who will not preach from the lectionary nor follow the liturgy. My late father served as a Methodist pastor for 70 years. He would be appalled by the casual attitude toward worship by many pastors and congregations. But this isn’t an exclusive UMC problem. Every denomination seems to have clergy who are completely casual about the importance of ritual. Today I lunched with a friend who is recovering from a serious heart attack. She was very near death, and a priest came to administer last rites. His phone rang during the anointing. The priest stopped and answered the phone. My friend is recovering and looking for a new parish church.

  12. Have you all ever heard “that they all may be one?” Sound familiar?

    • Doug Desper says:

      ….but “one what” Christopher? Artificial unity is symbolism without substance. If one has to negotiate away the worship life of the Church we will then be Unitarians.

      • Fr. John H. Cawthorne+ says:

        My first parish had as it’s rector Bishop Claggett-who left MD took a dangerous journey to Scotland where he was Ordained & Consecrated a Bishop by 3 Bishops “In Apostolic Succession”.
        I’m not a bishop myself, but I believe there is a single huge impediment to receiving the Blessed Sacrament from the hands of a Methodist Pastor-who simply is unable to Celebrate The Eucharist. I cherish our Apostolic roots, that is why I became an Episcopal Priest as opposed to being a Methodist Pastor like my grandfather. Secondly the Methodist’s have a 19th century view of homosexuality. A Pastor may be “defrocked” for being homosexual. I know some who have been forced to live shadow lives as members f a committed couple. It is evil and a sin to take this stand against Pastors who are trying to live in “the nature” which God almighty created them. I believe The United Methodist Church needs to get it’s ecclesiastical house in order before the idea of joint Communion is agreed to be a fact.

        • The Rev. Dr. Steven A. Scarcia says:

          I agree 110% with with Father Cawthorne. Our understanding of Apostolic Succession; Real Presence; the Methodist use of lay presidency for a memorial service; interchanging clergy; understanding of the Church’s Sacraments plus many more questions do not add up to Intercommunion for both of our Churches. Yes I believe the Scripture that “they all may be one,” but do we really know what that means. We may be one with faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, however, we are not one with how the Church understands what it means to achieve this “Oneness.” I pray for the day of Christian Unity, but not at the expense of watering down “the faith once delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3). I for one have a problem with this…sorry to rain on the unity parade…

  13. Erick Arellano says:

    While I am generally supportive of the Christian imperative for church unity, especially through proper ecumenical channels, this particular move towads “full communion” seems premature at best and theologically dubious at worst.

    As some commentators have already noted, it seems odd that we would enter into a union with a denomination whose trajectory is increasingly at odds with our own, especially as it concerns inclusivity.

    But perhaps more importantly, entering into a sacramental sharing relationship with a faith community that lacks the clear catholicity that our other intercommunion partners posses is theologically untenable. So from day to night all UMC pastors will effectively become consecrated priests? This is beyond screwy – especially since, nothing will be required of these pastors as the proposal states.

    It is no surprise that many will and should opppse this move – even the proposal itself mentions the longstanding Episcopal objections to Methodist polity that prevent full communion.

    The status quo with limited sacramental sharing should remain until such a time as the UMC evolves its catholic identity to something more recognizable as apostolic Christianity.

    This top down ecumenism is disappointing to say the least.

  14. Tom Ferguson says:

    The Episcopal Church was in full communion with the ELCA from 2001-2009 when they did not permit the service of openly gay clergy. Now, as we did then, we witness to our own policies and stand in solidarity with those within our dialogue partner churches who are standing up for full inclusion of all of God’s beloved.

  15. The Rev. Canon E. T. Malone, Jr. says:

    “Top down” everything seems to be the way of the Episcopal Church these days. In my rural community in Eastern North Carolina, we are friends with the Methodists and participate in Thanksgiving, Lenten, and Easter Sunrise services together. But there is no grassroots interest whatsoever in anything more than that. Our music, liturgy, and Eucharistic practices are quite different. We are attracting Roman Catholics who tell me our liturgy reminds them of what they used to have before Vatican II. God bless the Methodists, but this is not a good idea. If it comes up in our diocesan convention, I will oppose it.

    • Daniel Anderson Toler says:

      I agree, an Episcopalian in Wilmington, NC.

    • Father Mike Waverly-Shank says:

      When I hear people say that we worship like pre Vatican 2 RC’s, I wonder how old they are. Vatican 2 was 1962 I think. I am 76 and have heard less than a half dozen Latin Masses. That’s what pre Vatican 2 Masses were,

  16. I am a self identified progressive Anglo-Catholic who is currently in the process of crossing over from the Presbyterian Church (USA). I would say that my views on apostolic succession are firm but not rigid. I believe in it strongly enough that I am willing to uproot my life and risk my career as a pastor over it. I would say that apostolic succession is part of the ‘plene esse’ or full essence of the Church Catholic, but my understanding of God’s grace is also brought enough that I am unwilling to say that my Presbyterian wife, who is currently serving a UCC congregation, is not a true presbyter, called to serve Christ’s church in the ministry of Word and Sacrament.

    I applaud the Episcopal Church’s full communion agreement with the ELCA and the potential for a new one with the UMC under similar terms. It bears the mark of restoring the historic episcopate to its proper place and meaning, but does so gradually and graciously. I would even like to see a similar process take place among Presbyterians, but I don’t think it would ever happen. There just isn’t enough interest in even asking the question about bishops in succession to merit the hard work of making the transition to full catholicity. This fact breaks my heart and is ultimately the reason why I am seeking to make my home in the Episcopal Church, even though it requires an extended hiatus from ministry for the time being.

  17. Tom Whitaker, Jr., JD, FCEP says:

    “…for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
    As a recovering Methodist and a former acolyte, sacristan, and lay reader in All Saints while an undergrad at The University of the South, my initial reaction is that this is a lot of angst over nothing of any spiritual substance. The leadership of the Episcopal church in America successfully led their denomination into apostasy, and the United Methodist church has been spared a similar fate mainly due to the faithfulness of the African delegates to recent General Conferences to the clear teachings of God’s Word and providing the necessary votes to prevent the requisite majority to make such radical changes in core denominational doctrine. All the while both denominations are declining in membership and are on a trajectory towards what has been tagged the Evangelical Recession by 2027 ( see https://www.amazon.com/Great-Evangelical-Recession-Factors-American/dp/0801014832 ). I am thankful for my decades in the UMC and my years in the Episcopal church on many levels. God has truly used all my experiences for my good in His ongoing process of conforming me to His Son Jesus ( as He has promised to do for all those Who are His. Romans 8:28-29). I firmly believe that rather than arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic(s), the members of the Body of Christ aka The Holy Catholic Church wherever they may be in fellowhip need to be about Our Father’s business of engaging nonbelievers in the reality of Jesus’ open invitation to the restoration of a personal, experiential, intimate, and eternal relationship with God, as well as engaging believers in the reality of their new identity in Christ and supporting their awakening process to their new life of experiencing Jesus living through them, starting with being able to clearly recognize God’s voice when He speaks to them. As Henry Blackaby cautioned all of us in the room in Tampa 5 years ago, if you cannot clearly recognize God’s voice when He speaks to you, then “there is something seriously wrong at the core of your relationship with God. Find someone who can, and let them help you until you can too.” Wouldn’t the higher priority be to be a part of a community of Christ followers who experience intimacy with God personally and then bring that focus into corporate worship, ministry, and their daily lives? Look at the Window https://www.facebook.com/sewaneekingjesus/ .

    • Daniel Jay says:

      Amen! Well stated! Episcopalians and Methodists first need to root out apostasy and commit their lives to the Jesus of the New Testament rather than a re-imagined “Jesus” (idolatry) who approves of their devotion to persist in perversion.

  18. The Reverend Calvin Sanborn says:

    I am quite optimistic about this possibilty. I grew up in the Methodist Church and became an Episcopalian in my early adult life. I have been an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church for nearly 15 years. I am the rector of a church in Maine. Our building is currently undergoing a massive renovation, and our local Methodist Church has graciously welcomed us to live with them for nearly six months, while this project is completed. We hold one Episcopal service at 8 am and share a service at 10:30 am. There have been some liturgical challenges, but we have managed quite nicely to work them out. The relationship has been life giving for both our churches. I am encouraged by the proposal to explore the possibility of full communion.

  19. (The Rev'd) Richard H. Lutz says:

    Of what standing is the “Preface to the Ordination Rites” found in the “Book of Common Prayer” of the Episcopal Church in the current discussions with the Methodist Church leading to the interchangeability of ordained ministries? “Duly qualified to confer Holy Orders” by which persons “are allowed to exercise the offices of bishops, priests, and deacons in this (Episcopal) Church” must have some meaning of substance. What is meant by the words “duly qualified” and who makes such a determination of meaning?

  20. Sister Patrice Hilda OBrien, LSSC says:

    I am greatly encouraged by any acts of unity in this increasingly
    divisive climate we live in. I was raised in the Methodist church,
    married a Catholic and we are now members of the Episcopal church.
    We love the rich liturgies, all the “smells and bells”, the inclusivity, and
    the emphasis on deep spiritual and intellectual reflection. I hope
    during this process, people will continue to reach out with loving hearts
    and nondualistic minds that we all might be united in Christ.

  21. Terry Banfield Barnes says:

    I saw Catholic and apolistic. How does Catholic church figure into this

  22. Daniel Anderson Toler says:

    I converted to The Episcopal Church for a reason, I will never take communion from anyone but an ordained priest. Priest being key. If I wanted to be a Methodist there are at least 15 churches here in town. But I have 8 Episcopal parishes so my needs are met. I say no to all of this.

    • Sean McRoberts says:

      I respect your commitment to The Episcopal Church and would like to better understand. What was the reason you converted? Was it related to the priesthood?
      I ask this as a United Methodist Elder. I know why it matters to me who presides at communion, but I expect that your reason is different.

      • Daniel Anderson Toler says:

        The reason I joined The Episcopal Church is because Rome would not accept me being gay. Apostolic secession, real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, two holy sacraments of the gospel, and 5 sacraments of the church. Three orders of ministry, bishops, priests , and decons. All of which Methodists don’t teach or believe. Our worship is more identical to the Romans Catholic church. I could keep going and going. I don’t like it that we are in bed with the Lutherans at all. There are many in TEC that feel the way I do but our leadership ignores us.

    • Father Mike Waverly-Shank says:

      Only a priest? What about a deacon or a lay Eucharistic minister??? And remember priest – elder and presbyter are the same in the Bible.

  23. Brian R Alms says:

    I would advise caution on the matter of ‘full communion’ between the UMC and the ECUSA. The is no reason not to continue the friendly, amicable relationships between the two churches. We collaborate on social justice issues, charitable events, times of national or local crisis, etc. This arrangement has worked very well. We Episcopalians are noted for our formal, liturgical worship using our beloved Book of Common Prayer. Our church is recognized and lauded for this. Conversely, I have attended ‘contemporary’ services in ECUSA, and they are lackluster at best. The use of video screens, praise bands, and clergy clad in jeans and t-shirts is not for us. The UMC is moving toward more of this style of ‘contemporary’ worship no doubt about that. Also, I do not buy into the idea that our understanding of bishops is similar to the UMC understanding. Additionally, the issue of inclusiveness has not been resolved by the UMC. And, with the recent addition of conservative churches from the Third World to the UMC, it appears Methodists ae moving further away from including LGBT people as first class members of the church. At this time, I believe ‘full communion’ between the two churches is ill advised. Let’s slow this train down and reflect on what we are doing.

  24. Dr. William A. Flint, MDiv, PhD says:

    I often wonder if rural area churches and parishes are consulted before making such moves to unite. It starts innocently enough then moves to full and inclusive merger talks. Of course, as many of my United Methodists friends tell me, this might be the only way both denominations will ever experience growth in today’s society. The greater issue will be what to do with “Apostolic Succession” should the two want to marry. Wesley may have been Anglican (Church of England), but the American Methodists went in a diverse direction early on separating itself from all appearance of Anglicanism.

  25. Laura Provonche says:

    I do not totally agree with this. I do not believe we should interchange clergy, nor would i want to take communion from a Methodist minister. They do not believe that it becomes the Body and Blood of our Lord. My best friends are Methodist and they do not believe in worship and theology that we do. there is nothing wrong with doing somethings together, i.e. morning prayer, but Communion is quite another subject. I also would like to see us do ecumenical things with them as we do with our Lutheran brothers and sisters. i was born an Anglican/Episcopalian, but tried other denominations briefly, i came back because i didn’t care for their form of worship. We are all Christians, but we have different views of the Bible and worship. I also do not like their outlook on homosexuality, Jesus said “love one another”. This is everyone, and the Methodist church does not follow this. It appears this is not being discussed by this group. I am not judging, just stating fact, not just from my friends, but also a Methodist minister close to our family who was raised Methodist then converted to the Anglican church while in England because he said our church reached his spirit with our worship and understanding of Christ. This needs more consideration and understanding, and i hope the Convention does not agree to this as written. We believe the Word very differently.

    • Dr. William A. Flint, MDiv, PhD says:

      I think both Episcopalians and United Methodists have the same view of Communion, the difference comes between Episcopalians who identify as Anglo Catholic and those who identify as Protestants. I would agree Episcopal Anglo Catholics would have issues with a United Methodist administration of Communion. However, the Liturgies are the same.

    • Bill Staffen says:

      I think this is an interesting opinion. Last I checked the Episcopalian church not only split over their outlook on homosexuality, but they were suspended from full communion with the Anglican communion. The matter of joining in full communion with the UMC should probably not be decided based on views on homosexuality, considering that the UMC is much closed to the Episcopalian church in that regard than the Church of England or any other church actually part of the Anglican Communion.

      The matter of the communion bread actually transubstantiating into the body of Christ might be a more compelling difference… if the Episcopalian church believed that. From their library entry on the real presence: “Belief in the real presence does not imply a claim to know how Christ is present in the eucharistic elements. Belief in the real presence does not imply belief that the consecrated eucharistic elements cease to be bread and wine. See Transubstantiation; see Receptionism.”

      • Mary Frances Schjonberg says:

        Please note that the Episcopal Church has never been “suspended from full communion with the Anglican Communion,” as the commenter writes. A majority of the leaders of the communion’s 38 provinces – known as primates – during their January 2016 gathering called for three years of “consequences” for the Episcopal Church in response to the 78th General Convention’s decision to change canonical language that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman (Resolution A036) and authorize two new marriage rites with language allowing them to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples (Resolution A054). The primates said that they were “requiring” that for those three years the Episcopal Church not serve on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee, and “that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision-making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby did, as part of the consequences, remove the two Episcopalians who had been serving on two ecumenical bodies. In April 2016, the Anglican Consultative Council, as noted in a statement here http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2016/05/06/acc-neither-endorsed-nor-affirmed-primates-action-six-outgoing-members-say/, neither endorsed or affirmed the consequences.

        • Doug Desper says:

          Speaking of “consequences”, my sense is that in “officialdom” there will always be these kinds of tug-of-wars over who gets to steer and speak, and they amount to little. In the meeting rooms of the National Church and in endowed parishes all seems well. The constant flow of money gives that illusion. However, our 2015 statistics are showing that we can muster less than 1/3 of our rolls to show up on a Sunday – about 614,000. In truth, and since we don’t “purge” membership rolls, it is entirely likely that our active membership is not about 1,917,000 but instead about 850,000, and shrinking by the year. The lack of growth, and lack of participation (dare I say it) can by now be viewed as God’s pronouncement on the priorities of our Church these days. Since Pentecost is near perhaps The Jesus Movement should revisit the message of Christ and Him crucified which added to the Church day by day. Meanwhile, who gets to make the decisions and who thrusts them out as priorities hardly matters because God is adding to the Church — without us. Our loss of about 1/2 of a diocese each year has been ongoing with no sign of slowing. So, yes, let’s push it and swing for the fences: revise the Prayer Book, endorse whatever society calls a marriage, hear the Muslim call to prayer in the National Cathedral, and rush to add banners and flowing vestments to whatever rent-a-mob march is being cooked up next. That should work about as well as it has been so far.

  26. Gary Cox says:

    I am an Episcopal priest serving an Episcopal Latino congregation and a nearby ELCA congregation, both part-time. We’ve had a joint youth group event and a few shared services for Thanksgiving and Holy Week. Neither congregation can afford a full-time clergy person; the full communion enables me to serve both congregations. Members are aware there are differences in liturgy, history, and theology, but they don’t impede my serving both groups nor our working together. I don’t modify the Book of Common Prayer to fit Lutheranism when I serve the Episcopal church, nor do I try to make the Lutheran liturgy more Anglican. Though Episcopalian, I took courses in Lutheran history and liturgy thanks to the joint Episcopal/Lutheran seminary sharing at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin in the early 2000s. I have made mistakes in the ELCA congregation because sometimes my Anglican/Episcopal habits take over, but they have been few. When the leadership understands and respects both traditions, the concerns expressed so far in this forum don’t occur in a significant way.

  27. E. Mpanga says:

    “Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:21-22

    Therefore, good move!

  28. I think this is marvelous. Yes, there are differences in the two denominations, but full communion does not mean any kind of dilution of either church’s polity, theology, or sacramental practice. On the contrary, it is meant as partnership in ministry, not as obliteration of the unique gifts of either church in the body of Christ. I agree with an above post’s reminder that there is diversity within the Episcopal Church between Anglo-Catholics and Protestants over the theology of the table, and I admire you for being able to keep with each other in creative tension. Likewise, as a Methodist I can tell you we have diversity between more sacramental Methodists (like myself) and more evangelical Methodists. I realize from the posts above that many are simply unaware of this because they have not experienced the breadth of Methodist practice. My church has a contemporary service, which serves not only to reach new people but also to keep the other two more Liturgical services thriving … this is a reflection of our both sacramental and evangelical roots. Our sacramental practice is profoundly faithful to our own tradition and almost indistinguishable from “low church” Anglicans. We believe something indeed happens at the table and pray that the elements would become for us the body and blood of Christ, that we might become for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood. We are faithful to the entire liturgy. I am a United Methodist elder working on my DMin at Sewanee, and was recently honored with the invitation to preside at the table at the seminary chapel due to this move toward full communion. I was assisted by an Anglo-Catholic priest who helped me with my page numbers and stood by me, as is the appropriate requirement. I faithfully observed the beautiful Episcopal liturgy. This is a good thing, folks. Regarding our internal divisions over social issues, they are not unlike yours though the timing and details are different, so that need not sway us from steps toward full communion. The Methodist Churches believe ourselves to ordain through apostolic succession. Let us explore this together and see where the Spirit leads us.

  29. Larry Brooks says:

    As a sacramental Methodist lay person, I was surprised to learn that the Episcopal Church believes in transubstantiation, and the grace I thought I was receiving, is not valid. And I mistakenly thought the current Eucharist Liturgy was, if not exactly the same, very similar. And I was surprised to learn that Methodist don’t believe in the Real Presence either. I’m learning a lot here.

    It’s true that Asbury dropped the liturgy that Wesley wanted. Why? What good was a prayer book for laity who couldn’t read. It’s true that Communion was only held quarterly. Why? Because that was when the ordained Presiding Elder visited the congregations. The lay Circuit Riders didn’t preside at Communion. But least we forget, the Anglican Church in the 18th Century only served Communion at Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, and they had “real priests” to boot, apparently ordained by St. Peter himself.

    And where were the Episcopalians when the Methodist lay circuit riders were converting America? Sitting back patiently waiting for the hordes of unchurched people to come to them?

    It appears from the comments here that they prefer to continue waiting.

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