Ecumenical Endeavors

The Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA) held their final in-person meeting in December 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 United Methodist-Episcopal Church Dialogue Committee met at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, Georgia, on Nov. 1 – 3. A major focus was given to planning strategy for upcoming churchwide conferences in 2024; the UMC Annual Conference will occur in May with The Episcopal Church’s General Convention happening shortly after in June. Notably, this will be the first in-person UMC conference since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 89th meeting of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation in the United States of America (ARC-USA) met at the Bon Secours Retreat and Conference Center in Marriottsville, Maryland, from Nov. 8-10, hosted by the secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Against a background of communal worship, participants finalized a draft of a document on reconciliation, tentatively titled, “A Call to Reconciliation: A Joint Document from the Anglican-Roman Catholic USA Dialogue.” All members participated in a careful review of the entire document, providing final additions and edits. A final draft of this document on reconciliation will be presented in 2024 for approval by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

House of Deputies President Julia Ayala Harris led a delegation of Episcopal leaders on a trip to Sweden last week to attend the Church of Sweden’s General Synod and affirm the recently finalized full communion agreement between the two churches.

In addition to visiting various Church of Sweden parishes and ministries, Ayala Harris spoke at the closing Eucharist of General Synod in affirmation of the two churches’ agreement. “The fires of the Holy Spirit are moving among us in fresh ways, forming what is to come. We are called to help the church evolve and take a new shape,” Ayala Harris said, according to the written text of her Nov. 22 remarks at the Church of Sweden’s Uppsala Cathedral.

The National Council of Churches (NCC) hosted the first Christian Unity Gathering since 2019 in October. Participants met under the theme, “Faith Under Fire: The Church in the Public Square.” The opening reception and worship was hosted by Greater Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Featured speakers included Bishop Anne Henning Byfield, Rob Schenck, and the Rev. Renita Weems, who holds a doctoral degree in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible studies.

Compiled by:

the Rev. Mike Wernick
Ecumenical and Interreligious Officer
the Episcopal Dioceses of Western and Eastern Michigan