Review of The Gathering 2012

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Churches and chapels consider joining forces

DATE: 12/10/201

Traditional dividing lines between churches and chapels in Wales could soon be a thing of the past in a move towards greater unity.

Christian leaders from most denominations in Wales will meet at a major conference this week to look at 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.

The event, called The Gathering, will be held in Aberystwyth and will attended by representatives from the five Covenanted Churches in Wales - the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church, the Presbyterian Church of Wales, the Church in Wales and some Covenanted Baptist congregations. Between them they have about 2,500 churches.

The keynote speaker will be the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches.

Revd Gethin Abraham-Williams, Chair of the Commission of Covenanted Churches, said:

“Four decades ago, five of the leading Christian traditions of Wales embarked on a path towards presenting a united witness to the Gospel. They made a solemn covenant before God and with one another in order that they might be brought into one visible Church to serve together in mission to the glory of God.

“At The Gathering, those churches will reassess their progress in achieving those goals. The Gathering will also be an occasion to wait again upon the Holy Spirit for the moment that will ‘create out of their separated lives a new ecclesial community committed to common mission in the world.’”

The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, added: “This is the largest ecumenical gathering in Wales for many years. Our lack of unity does not help our message of reconciliation. I hope that we can find a way forward together as Churches in Wales.”

A set of reports will be launched at The Gathering outlining plans for new bishops adopted by and expressing a Reformed church understanding of the office of a bishop. They also envisage a single United Church for Wales, in which there will be an interchange of ordained ministries by those with church or chapel backgrounds.

The day will close with the sharing of bread and wine using a brand new order for Holy Communion.

Official representatives from each of the five Covenanted Churches will take the reports back to their local churches and the five Churches will respond to the recommendations in due course.

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