Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations

The ecumenical movement is The Episcopal Church's response to Jesus' prayer for his disciples in John 17:21 "that they may all be one." The Office for Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations offers prayers for unity and participates in formal dialogues to nurture a spirit of understanding and respect, while collaborating actively in mission and ministry opportunities. 

Episcopalians and United Methodists met in Chicago, Illinois for the fourth session of their Dialogue on Full Communion (26-28 October 2016). Committee members and staff from each church shared in conversation, meals, and prayer. 

In personal updates and sharing, committee members spoke of the deep polarization in our nation and of the poisonous political rhetoric in this election season. These divisions are not new and our churches are not exempt. We acknowledge that United Methodists and Episcopalians also participate in the divisiveness raging in our society.

Our current passion to draw closer together reflects our need for repentance in perpetuating such division and our commitment to live into the unity for which Christ prayed. 

Work at the meeting included completion of an informational document (FAQs). The dialogue committee brought a statement for full communion called “A Gift to the World: Co Laborers for the Healing of Brokenness,” nearer to completion. We noted numerous examples places where United Methodists and Episcopalians are already working in mission together, most recently in our ecumenical solidarity at the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation. 

Our efforts of working toward full communion have progressed over many years. We are convinced the time is now to move forward toward legislation and church wide engagement. “Why Now?” is the final question of our informational document. We quote it here as a mandate for our future work and our commitment to engage the wider church:

To a world torn by division, mistrust and fear, our witness of Full Communion is a beautiful sign of life and hope. After all, Jesus prayed for his disciples to be one as he and the Father are one, so that the world may know (John 17); Paul also reminds us that we are one Body (1 Corinthians 12). 

We are richly blessed by a sharing of resources, as we join forces in crucial mission endeavors and tackle ministry challenges together. We have been in conversations about communion for fifty years. The examples of shared ministry and Christian friendship over many more years are innumerable. In many places, interchangeability and flexibility in ministry are essential. There is in our culture an increasing cynicism about divisions among churches, and a lack of passion for and identity with denominational entities. When we labor for unity, our own identities are clarified and redeemed.

Naming our oneness in Christ will be the fulcrum that will energize new and creative ministries in our communities, and joint activism for the dawning of God’s justice in the world. In passionate outreach to the world, “two are better than one,” for they lift each other up—and with Christ at the heart of this communion we will discover “a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12). 

Participants:
Bishop Frank Brookhart (Episcopal Co-chair)
Bishop Gregory Palmer (United Methodist Co-chair)
The Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey (United Methodist)
The Rev. Jordan Haynie Ware (Episcopal)
Dr. Deirdre Good (Episcopal)
The Rev. Dr. Robert J. Williams (United Methodist)
The Rev. Patricia Farris (United Methodist)
The Rev. Dr. Tom Ferguson (Episcopal)
Bishop Mary Ann Swenson (United Methodist)
The Rev. Dr. James Howell (United Methodist)
Bishop David Rice (Episcopal) 

Staff: Dr. Glen Alton Messer (United Methodist), Ms. Jeanette Nunez (United Methodist), the Rev. Margaret Rose (Episcopal) 

 
Episcopalians and United Methodists met in Chicago, Illinois for the fourth session of their Dialogue on Full Communion (26-28 October 2016). Committee members and staff from each church shared in conversation, meals, and prayer.  In personal...

Reports by Ellen K. Wondra

Commission on Faith and Order, June 17-24, 2015, Monastery of Caraiman, Busteni, Romania

Following the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in 2013, the Commission on Faith and Order was reconstituted and had its first meeting at the Monastery of Caraiman near Busteni, Romania. The Commission comprises 49 members from 5 continents, supplemented by 5 WCC staff members, 3 consultants, and 1 guest. In addition to TEC, two other churches of the Anglican Communion are formally represented: the Church of England and the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

This was the first meeting for about two-thirds of the Commissioners. Much of the meeting entailed orienting new members and reviewing the purposes and procedures of Faith and Order. The Commission’s primary purpose is “to serve the churches as they call one another to visible unity in one faith and in one Eucharistic fellowship, expressed in worship and common life in Christ, through witness and service to the world, and advance towards that unity in order that the world may believe.” Over the next eight years, this work will be carried out within the framework of the WCC’s Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace.

Considerable time was given to building a consensus about major task areas for Faith and Order for the next few years. Three general areas of study were discerned, along with initial areas of focus:

  • The Church on a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace in Today’s World
    • Theological and ecclesiological foundations of pilgrimage, justice and peace;
    • Proclaiming and confessing Jesus Christ with one voice in a multireligious, multicultural world;
    • Church facing the issues of justice, peace and creation; issues of migration, racism, economic justice
  • Pilgrimage Towards a Common Vision of the Church (with attention given to specific themes of authority and anthropology):
    • Promote the reception and response to the ecclesiological study The Church: Towards a Common Vision and analyze official responses;
      • give further attention to bilateral dialogues engaging the theme of the church;
      • indicate further work to be done;
    • use The Church as a means for dialoguing with “newer” or “emerging” churches on their understanding of the church;
    • convene a consultation exploring the progress made from Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry to The Church: Towards a Common Vision;
    • study ecclesiology in relation to pneumatology (i.e. the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church);
    • reflect on newer ecclesial movements and expressions
  • The Church on a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace Engaged in Moral Discernment:
    • Proceed with the moral discernment project on the basis of what has already been accomplished;
      • prepare study materials for its use and discussion locally;
      • organize a consultation in which points of agreement, methods, and differences are clarified;
      • explore what processes are at work when a community decides to change its moral position on a particular issue.
    • Two small working groups, one on authority, both in relation to moral discernment and in relation to ecclesiology; and another one on anthropology.

For the remainder of the meeting the study groups met and organized their work for the coming two years. All Study Groups are expected to meet at least once before the next Commission plenary in Summer 2017.

Participation in the Commission on Faith and Order offers TEC an opportunity to participate in the shaping of the worldwide ecumenical agenda—a possibility not presently offered by the Anglican Communion—and to learn from other churches in regard to important issues such as justice and peace, and moral discernment in relation to ecumenical ecclesiology. These are both important themes within TEC as well as between TEC and its dialogue partners. TEC’s representative is a member of Study Group 2, working on responses to The Church and on fostering relations with “newer” and “emerging” churches, including evangelical and Pentecostal churches.

 

Meeting of Study Group 2, Pilgrimage Towards a Common Vision of the Church, June 16-20, Klasztor Ojców Dominikanów, Krakow, Poland

At this meeting, Study Group 2 divided into two subgroups: Subgroup 1 to discuss WCC engagement with “newer” and “emerging” churches (including Pentecostal, evangelical, and charismatic churches); and Subgroup 2 to assess responses to the WCC convergence document The Church.

Subgroup 1 has identified seven categories of ecclesiology with which a Faith and Order dialogue can be engaged. A 3000 paper for each ecclesiology will be completed by January 2017. is planned to provide by January 2017. The objective of these papers is to ask: “How do these ecclesiologies respond to TCTCV?”. Connections with the leaders of mentioned churches will be also planned. The members of the Sub-group 1 have considered that there is no need to meet again before the Commission 2017. The work can be done by videoconferences. A first contact after Krakow’s meeting will take place in September 2016, organized by the F&O’s Secretariat.

Subgroup 2 discussed 19 of the 20 responses to The Church received thus far. Nineteen of these responses are from Europe, Australia and North America; one is from India. The group discussed how to elicit more responses from the Global South and non-Anglophone churches; and how to discern the significance of the low number of responses from these areas. The responses are largely welcoming and positive towards The Church, with various points of critique, mention of issues that are still contested, and many comments on themes that need further elaboration. The group identified a number of common themes that group members will investigate more carefully in the responses:

  • Apostolic faith in relation to the historic episcopate; authority and primacy
  • The role of laity and synods
  • The relationship between the local and universal Church
  • Definition of legitimate diversity, the nature of unity, the nature of authority and the theme of moral discernment.
  • Koinonia – a theme that is received positively, but requires more elaboration
  • The theme of sin in relation to the church as such
  • Sacraments and the sacramentality of the church
  • Further work on Chapter 4
  • Reception

The deadline for responses is December, 2016, with responses expected from TEC, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Orthodox churches. The subgroup will meet via Skype or a similar platform, and face to face in Geneva, Switzerland, in January 2017.

The Episcopal Church’s representative, Ellen Wondra, a member of Subgroup 2, will work with TEC to produce a response to The Church before January 2017. A draft response will go to the meeting of Executive Council in October 2016, for consideration by the Joint Standing Committee on World Mission and, it is hoped, Executive Council as a whole. Dr. Wondra will also review responses to The Church to discover how they consider the theme of koinonia.

Respectfully submitted

(The Rev.) Ellen K. Wondra, PhD
Research Professor Emerita of Theology and Ethics
Bexley Seabury Seminary Federation
Chicago, Illinois

Reports by Ellen K. Wondra Commission on Faith and Order, June 17-24, 2015, Monastery of Caraiman, Busteni, Romania Following the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in 2013, the Commission on Faith and Order was reconstituted and had...
The Episcopal Church is an active participant—as a full member or supporter—in a number of ecumenical and interreligious networks and regular events. This page provides links to these groupings in alphabetical order.
 
Anglican Communion Network for Interfaith Concerns
 
Bread for the World
 
Christian Churches Together
 
Church World Service
 
Churches Uniting in Christ
 
The National Council of Churches
 
National Workshop on Christian Unity
 
Parliament of the World's Religions
 
Religions for Peace USA
 
The World Council of Churches
The Episcopal Church is an active participant—as a full member or supporter—in a number of ecumenical and interreligious networks and regular events. This page provides links to these groupings in alphabetical order.   Anglican Communion Network...

The dialogue partners met at the Nicholas Center of Saint James Episcopal Cathedral in Chicago. The PCUSA representatives were Dennis Hughes (co-convenor), Christian Boyd, Anne Bond, Kamal Hassan, Gordon Zerkel and Robina Winbush (administrative staff). The Episcopal Church representatives were Bishop Eugene Sutton (co-convenor), Joe Pagano, Elizabeth Ring, Tim Mulder, Joanne O’Donnell and Margaret Rose (administrative staff). Joseph Wolyniak, a new member of the Episcopal Church complement, joined the meeting on September 7. The dialogue team was joined by the Rev. James Farwell, Ph.D., Professor of Theology and Liturgy at Virginia Theological Seminary, who presented a paper that proposes ways in which the 2009 agreement between the churches may be implemented, particularly paragraphs 5 and 6 of the agreement. Rev. Jan Edmundston, co-moderator of the PCUSA General Assembly, met with the group briefly on Sept. 7.

The dialogue team joined the staff of Saint James Cathedral at its monthly Eucharist in Saint James Chapel on Wednesday, Sept. 7. The group also met for morning and evening prayer throughout the meeting. Members of the two denominations took turns leading the prayers.

The dialogue group spent the first day of the two-day meeting hearing from Dr. Farwell and considering his proposals for implementing paragraphs 5 and 6 of the agreement. Specifically, the group discussed ways in which Episcopalian and Presbyterian ministers may participate in one another’s rites of word and table. This discussion turned to a great extent on the different relationships our two denominations have with their liturgical books—the PCUSA’s Book of Common Worship and the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer. On the second day of the meeting, the dialogue returned to the relationship between Baptism and Confirmation in our respective denominations, a topic that was introduced at our previous meeting. Dr. Farwell made helpful contributions to this discussion as well. The team also began to develop a set of Frequently Asked Questions about the Agreement.

The meeting adjourned on September 8 after scheduling further meetings in April and October 2017, in anticipation of the convocations of both denominations that will take place in 2018. The group outlined the contents of a possible booklet and video as products of this dialogue and as part of the final report to the two denominations.

The dialogue partners met at the Nicholas Center of Saint James Episcopal Cathedral in Chicago. The PCUSA representatives were Dennis Hughes (co-convenor), Christian Boyd, Anne Bond, Kamal Hassan, Gordon Zerkel and Robina Winbush (administrative...

Compiled by Richard Mammana
For the Episcopal Church Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations

Connecticut

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

Wilton Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Southern New England
“Wilton Episcopal Presbyterian Corporation (WEPCO) oversees our joint venture.”

Iowa

Faith and Grace Garden, West Des Moines
Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
Presbytery of Des Moines
“a joint ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church and St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church.”

Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry, Cedar Rapids
Christ Episcopal Church
Westminster Presbyterian Church
Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
Presbytery of East Iowa

Michigan

St. Aidan’s/Northside Presbyterian Natural Habitat, Ann Arbor
St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church, Episcopal Diocese of Michigan
Northside Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Detroit
“St. Aidan’s Episcopal and Northside Presbyterian Churches occupy five acres of forested land located in an otherwise congested urban environment adjacent to the University of Michigan North Campus.”

Minnesota

Trinity Church, Park Rapids
Northern Waters Presbytery
Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota
“Trinity is a Christian Church of the Episcopal and Presbyterian traditions, living our baptismal vows as witness to the world in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Missouri

St Luke’s Hospital, Chesterfield
“Founded on February 28, 1866 by a group of concerned Episcopalians and joined in ministry by the Presbyterians in 1948, St. Luke’s Hospital is part of the healing ministry of the Episcopal and Presbyterian (USA) churches.”
Episcopal Diocese of Missouri

New Jersey

Panther Valley Ecumenical Ministry, Hackettstown, New Jersey
Episcopal Diocese of Newark
Presbytery of Newton
Central Atlantic Conference, United Church of Christ
Greater New Jersey Annual Conference, United Methodist Church

New York

St Andrew’s Shared Ministry
The First Presbyterian Church of LeRay
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church of Evans Mills
Diocese of Central New York
Presbytery of Northern New York
“a cooperative parish founded to combine the resources of many small parishes for more effective outreach.”

North Carolina

Presbyterian-Episcopal Campus Ministry
Appalachian State University, Boone
Diocese of Western North Carolina
Western Carolina Presbytery

Ohio

Indian Hill Church
Presbytery of Cincinnati
Diocese of Southern Ohio
“Living our dual denominational traditions and making new traditions.”

McArthur Trinity Episcopal and McArthur Presbyterian Churches
Diocese of Southern Ohio
Presbytery of Scioto Valley
“The congregations maintain and attend both churches on alternate Sundays and are vital assets to the community.”

Tennessee

St. Matthew’s Night Shelter for Men
St. Paul’s, Chattanooga, Diocese of East Tennessee
Second Presbyterian Church, Chattanooga, Presbytery of East Tennessee
Joint ministry founded in 1984.

Virginia
Trinity Ecumenical Parish, Moneta, Virginia
Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia
Virginia Synod, ELCA
Presbytery of the Peaks

Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury
Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
Presbytery of the James

Westminster Canterbury of the Blue Ridge
“opened in 1990 as a joint endeavor of Westminster Presbyterian Homes, Inc. and Virginia Diocesan Homes, Inc.”
Synod of the Mid-Atlantic
Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

Westminster Canterbury, Lynchburg
“Established as a nonprofit corporation in 1975 by the Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia and The Synod of the Mid-Atlantic of the Presbyterian Church, the LifeCare community of Westminster Canterbury opened July 14, 1980.”
Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia
Synod of the Mid-Atlantic

Westminster Canterbury, Richmond
“founded in 1971 by the Episcopal and Presbyterian churches and opened in 1975.”

Westminster-Canterbury, Virginia Beach
Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia
Presbytery of Eastern Virginia

Washington

Peninsula Church Center, Seaview
Episcopal Diocese of Olympia
Presbytery of Olympia
Joint Episcopal-Presbyterian-Lutheran parish incorporating St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and Ocean Beach Presbyterian Church.

 

International

Canada

Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre
Anglican Diocese of Montreal, Montreal Presbytery
“Since 1927, Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre has offered empowering, supportive programs and services to the community of Little Burgundy in South-West Montreal.”

New Zealand

Awatere Christian Joint Venture Church
Anglican Diocese of Nelson, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand

South Africa

Trinity Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Tshwane
Parish of Lynwood, Anglican Diocese of Pretoria
“Although the congregations each maintain their own identity and worship in separate worship services, they share the sanctuary and all the facilities.” Founded in 1971.

Compiled by Richard Mammana For the Episcopal Church Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations Connecticut St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut Wilton Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Southern New England “...

Following a two-day meeting in April, The Episcopal Church-United Methodist Dialogue Committee issued the following Communique:

April 27, 2016

Episcopalians and United Methodists met in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the third session of their Dialogue on Full Communion (25-27 April 2016). The ten committee members, along with staff from each church, shared in conversation, meals, prayer, and a celebration of the Eucharist. It was a time for building relationships between representatives of two sibling churches that have long desired to grow closer in common witness to the gospel of Christ and in mission for the healing of God’s world.

The dialogue session made substantive progress towards a proposal for full communion between The Episcopal Church and The United Methodist Church. Committee members continued to learn about the history, beliefs, practices, and ways of living as church that are found in each tradition. Many are shared in common by both traditions.  Dialogue participants also discussed and appreciated our distinctiveness.  Among these are the ways our churches have shaped their institutions and approaches to ministry appropriate to their particular missional contexts.

Dialogue participants shared their own questions with one another and began developing FAQs.  Sharing answers to these queries will assist both churches as we grow closer in relationship with one another. 

The next session will be held in October 2016.  

Alongside their work as a Dialogue Committee, participants, noting the recent passage of House Bill 2 in the State Legislature of North Carolina, found themselves confronted with an example of the common challenges faced by all Christians as they work to faithfully give witness to the sacred dignity of all people. The Committee, in recognition of the harmful effects of the bill, stands with our Episcopal and United Methodist bishops in North Carolina, calling upon the legislature to repeal this discriminatory law.

The central point of Episcopalians and United Methodists working to strengthen their relationship with each other is faithfully and effectively to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and to work for the healing of a divided and suffering world.

Our gratitude goes to the Rev. James Howell and Myers Park United Methodist Church for their gracious hospitality.   

 

Participants: 

Bishop Frank Brookhart (Episcopal Co-chair)

Bishop Gregory Palmer (United Methodist Co-chair)

The Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey (United Methodist)

The Rev. Jordan Haynie Ware (Episcopal)

Dr. Deirdre Good (guest) (Episcopal)

The Rev. Dr. Robert J. Williams (United Methodist)

Bishop David Rice (Episcopal)

The Rev. Patricia Farris (United Methodist)

The Rev. Dr. Tom Ferguson (Episcopal)

Bishop Mary Ann Swenson (United Methodist)

The Rev. James Howell (United Methodist)

Staff:  Dr.  Glen Alton Messer (United Methodist), Ms. Jeanette Nunez (United Methodist), the Rev. Margaret Rose (Episcopal)

 

Following a two-day meeting in April, The Episcopal Church-United Methodist Dialogue Committee issued the following Communique: April 27, 2016 Episcopalians and United Methodists met in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the third session of their...

The Episcopal Church is seeking representatives to serve on ecumenical dialogues and coordinating committees. Representatives can be lay or ordained, and must be committed to and have experience in ecumenism.

"Engaging other Christians through our ecumenical dialogues and networks is vital work," commented the Rev. Dr. Charles K. Robertson, Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Ministry Beyond the Episcopal Church, "and one more way of engaging the Jesus Movement and its focus on reconciliation." 

The Rev. Margaret Rose, Deputy to the Presiding Bishop for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations, added, "We seek representatives with scholarly and practical experience in ecumenical work to serve on the dialogues and coordinating committees."

The five dialogues and committees are:

 

  • Anglican - Roman Catholic USA Dialogue Committee
  • United Methodist - Episcopal Dialogue Committee
  • Lutheran (ELCA) - Episcopal Coordinating Committee
  • Episcopal - Presbyterian (PCUSA) Dialogue
  • Moravian - Episcopal Coordinating Committee

 

Episcopal representatives to these bodies will be appointed by Executive Council upon the recommendation of the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies.

At this time, the committees with the Roman Catholics, the United Methodists, and the Lutherans have vacancies that need to be filled as soon as possible. Candidates should submit a letter of interest, along with a resume/CV to the Rev. Margaret Rose at mrose@episcopalchurch.org.

The next round of the Anglican - Roman Catholic USA Dialogue Committee (ARCUSA) will address the subject, “Reconciliation in Holy Scripture and Christian Tradition.” As in previous iterations of ARCUSA, members of the dialogue should possess a Ph.D. or its equivalent, or display scholarly experience in theology and practice, as well as expertise in the subject addressed. Statements from previous rounds of dialogue are collected here.

The United Methodist - Episcopal Dialogue Committee seeks practitioners and scholars with experience and knowledge of ecumenical full communion agreements, as well as particular knowledge of the United Methodist Church. This committee’s goal is full communion in the coming years and invites those who have skill and experience in local mission and ministry partnerships to apply.   

The Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee (LECC) works to encourage new levels of trust, cooperation, and mission, as well as support existing cooperative ministries, between the two churches. We are in the second decade of Called to Common Mission, our full communion agreement.   That agreement can be found here.

For more information contact Rose at mrose@episocpalchurch.org, or go to http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/ecumenical-interreligious.

 Deadline for submissions is May 1. 

The Episcopal Church is seeking representatives to serve on ecumenical dialogues and coordinating committees. Representatives can be lay or ordained, and must be committed to and have experience in ecumenism. "Engaging other Christians through our...