Methodist-Anglican merger backing

DELEGATES at the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocesan Synod voted overwhelming in favour of approving the Anglican-Methodist Covenant. Suffolk's churches have been asked to express their opinion to the Church's Parliament over whether they wish to see discussions about a possible merger between the Church of England and the Methodist Church continue.

DELEGATES at the St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocesan Synod voted overwhelming in favour of approving the Anglican-Methodist Covenant.

Suffolk's churches have been asked to express their opinion to the Church's Parliament over whether they wish to see discussions about a possible merger between the Church of England and the Methodist Church continue.

It has been called the most important issue the Church of England has addressed since the vote on the ordination of women more than 10 years ago. The Synod's first meeting of the year was held at Farlingaye High School in Woodbridge on Saturday .

Before the vote, the Synod heard speeches from representatives from the Methodist Church and the Churches Together in Suffolk.

The Bishop's Ecumenical Advisor, the Rev Peter Mortimer told the meeting: "It is something we are doing in partnership with other churches and with other people who have a major contribution to make to the lives of our churches."

The Rev Elizabeth Bellamy, the Deputy of the Methodist District, said she hoped and prayed that the outcome would be positive.

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"The Covenant is an invitation for us to make a journey together, through those issues to a place where we may discover a new way of being Church," she said.

"A Church that is different. A new Church, bigger than the vision in our separate Churches. If we are to arrive, we need to make the journey. If we don't make the journey, we'll never reach the goal. The Covenant is part of the journey. Let's make the journey together."

Bishop Richard described the negotiations to come as a "journey of faith" and told Synod: "There is no other journey worth embarking on."

The motion was overwhelming carried in all three Houses of the Synod. The Bishops voted two to none, the House of Clergy voted 36 for, four against, with one abstention, and the House of Laity, 55 for, four against, and one Abstention.

The voting figures will be forwarded to the General Synod so that it can take account of Suffolk's strong support of the continuing negotiations at national level.

George Woodward, lay vice-chairman of the Board of Finance, told the meeting the total parish share in 2002 was about £4.3m – more than £300,000 more than in the previous year.

He said that was same amount as in 1997 but expenditure over that same period had increased by £1.5m.

Mr Woodward added: "We cannot continue to spend more whilst giving in parish share remains static."

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