Ecumenical and Interreligious

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and The Episcopal Church Complete Third Round of Bilateral Dialogue

December 6, 2023
Ecumenical and Inter-religious Relations

The third round of bilateral dialogue between The Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) held its final in-person meeting in Denver, Colorado, at the Central Presbyterian Church. This third round has been at work since 2019, having held a few of its previous meetings via Zoom and in-person. 

Dialogue members reviewed and finalized language for their final report to the 81st General Convention and the 226th General Assembly in 2024. Included in the final report is a joint proposal for “Episcopal-Presbyterian Local Sharing of Ministries.” If approved and implemented, the agreement would enable Episcopal diocesan bishops and Presbyterian presbyteries to authorize priests/teaching elders to serve in the other’s churches for a limited time for a commissioned ministry while still under the ministerial and disciplinary jurisdiction of the sending body. The dialogue recognized that this arrangement is already happening in several contexts, particularly in specialized ministries as chaplaincies and educational institutions, and would be notably helpful for faith communities in less urban settings. The proposed agreement provides official authorization and support from both communions. 

The dialogue welcomed numerous guests who welcomed and commended the work of the dialogue, offered insights and asked clarifying questions on the proposed agreement. 

As American Christianity, generally, and both The Episcopal Church and PC(USA), specifically, grapple with and navigate the realities of post-denominational landscapes, the dialogue spent considerable time reflecting upon the meaning of “membership” and “belonging.” The dialogue is recommending this question to be taken up in a fourth round of bilateral dialogue.

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