SOURCE: ARTICLE: Covenanting for Mission - Quakers in Wales Meeting
On 13th October 2012 Christine Trevett and I attended an event called ‘The Gathering’. It was organised through Cytûn for The Covenanted Churches in Wales. All of this terminology was almost beyond me so I’m going to do some explaining for those who are equally bemused. “Covenanting” in Wales was originally set up over 40 years ago. In 1964 there was a call for churches to covenant together and the covenant in Wales was inaugurated in Aberystwyth in 1975. The term covenanting is about the concept of visual unity. In practical application that means inter-church relations and works towards collaborative ministry and mission. The covenanted churches in Wales at present are Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and United Reformed.
The Gathering was a prestigious and extremely well organised event bringing together a large congregation to celebrate and launch this next stage in their renewed commitment to working together. The main speaker introducing the International Challenge was the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, who in his beautiful Norwegian accent explained “that the present task of the Covenanting churches in Wales is to find ways to encourage each other towards unity.” He elaborated that it was about uniting in mission and that “Our unity is based on our faith”. He challenged us to ask ourselves what themes unite us, and to make unity real and visible in both big and small ways.
The event launched new studies and recommendations for more aligned decision-making structures – a significant and impressive body of work aiming for strategic structural changes to better enable these member churches to worship on a more similar platform. The day also introduced an update Holy Community service for inter-denominational uses.
The focus of the day was ecumenical, unifying and uplifting. Personally I took immense pleasure in being part of a group of such well-versed, (it has to be said mainly dog-collared!), accomplished singing congregation who belted out “Arglwydd, arwain drwy’r anialwch” to the tune of Cwm Rhondda (Bread of Heaven to the likes of me!) at full volume and velocity. Stronger singing than any choir I have ever heard.
The Methodist/Anglican I sat next to explained that “This is not an attempt to undo history – it’s a move forward,” he emphasised, “That it’s not imposed and doesn’t deny the values each group holds.” I was aware of the transcending of denominational differences the even gender spread, the smooth bilingualism, the mixture of worship styles, and the sense of respect for diversity. I took on board their genuine endeavours to be peace-makers and it seemed to me that they have progressed here over the last 50 years. For me personally, I felt very privileged to witness and be a part of the community of Welshness gathered through the international ecumenical movement representing Welsh religious communities from both inside and outside Wales.