Review of The Gathering 2012

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Potential for unity steps in Wales

SOURCE - ARTICLE: Methodist Recorder Issue 8078, October 19, 2012

Churches in Wales could take significant steps toward unity if proposals considered at a conference in Aberystwyth last Saturday are adopted.

"The Gathering" brought together 400 representatives of the five Covenanted Churches in Wales - the Methodist, United Reformed and Presbyterian Churches, the Church in Wales and Covenanted Baptist congregations.

Discussion papers contained radical proposals on church governance and pastoral oversight. The long-term ambition is to establish a Church of Wales that shares "one faith, one structure, one ministry and one governance" but which acknowledges different theological emphases and traditions. The Covenanted Churches are invited to think of themselves as "the Church Uniting in Wales", in nine "jurisdictions" - six Anglican dioceses and a Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist/URC, each with its own bishop.

Ministers would be ordained according to their own traditions but with the participation of bishops who are "part of the historic episcopate", that is the Anglican tradition.

Saturday's Gathering has launched a two-year consultation and discernment process. Wales Synod Chair the Rev Dr Stephen Wigley described it as "a significant occasion in the life of the Covenanted Churches in Wales".

"As Methodists in Wales we have said that we are committed to working together with our Covenant partners. However, we have also said that in light of previous disappointments we do not consider that the time is right for further structural schemes and that what is most needed are two things: first a deepening of of the ecumenical relationships which already exist and second a further exploration of what is possible under existing agreements."

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