“Chapels and churches from five denominations are being encouraged to think of themselves as The Church Uniting in Wales following a conference in Aberystwyth last Saturday. Representatives from the Covenanted Churches came to the Gathering to launch a set of reports prepared by the Commission of the Covenanted Churches regarding the future of the five churches. These reports include radical news ways of working more closely together. Among the proposals under consideration will be ground-breaking proposals for a new breed of bishops and a single United Church for Wales.
Around three hundred representatives came together and following opening worship, Revd Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, gave a short talk. He explained the international context and said that these new plans are ploughing a new furrow in global ecumenism.
Delegates were then reminded of the history of the denominations in a dramatic presentation presented Cwmni Troed y Rhiw and scripted by Revd Gwynn ap Gwilym. Everyone was reminded of the historical reasons for the differences between the denominations but that doctrinal differences are essentially few and far between.
After lunch, there was a question-and-answer session provocatively entitled ‘Rearranging the deck chairs?’ with broadcaster Phil George and a DVD was shown presenting the Commission’s recommendations. The highlight of the day was the use of a brand new order for Holy Communion, with the leaders of all five churches administering the Sacrament together.
Every Presbytery was invited to send four representatives to the Gathering: they will now be responsible for opening local discussions regarding the Commission’s recommendations. The Presbytery’s responses will eventually be presented to the Association and then to the 2013 General Assembly.