Yorkshire churches enter groundbreaking partnership

Anglican and Methodist churches in Yorkshire have entered into a groundbreaking regional partnership.

The Church of England and Methodist Church nationally have been committed to greater cooperation since signing a national covenant in 2003, but this is the first time a covenant has been signed between the two Churches at regional level in Britain.

The Covenant Area Partnership will be inaugurated at a special celebration at Trinity Methodist Church in Harrogate on Saturday.

The partnership is being signed by the Leeds Methodist District and the Ripon and Leeds Anglican Diocese.

It will see Methodist and Anglican churches in the area increasingly share clergy and joint services.

The churches will also work together in mission and ministry, and consult each other on the deployment of staff and resources throughout the region.

The partnership covers 85 Anglican parishes and 65 Methodist churches.

“The lives of both Churches have already been greatly enriched by our determination to work, worship and grow together,” said the Rev Julian Pursehouse, Acting Chair of the Leeds Methodist District.

“The new Covenant Area Partnership is a fantastic opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to one another and to live out our calling to serve our communities in a more dynamic and coherent way.”

Methodist ministers in this area will be encouraged to apply for permission to minister in Church of England parishes and Anglican clergy will be encouraged to apply for ‘Associate Presbyter’ status with the Methodist Church.

This means that an Anglican priest would be able to preside at Methodist services of Holy Communion and baptism, and at funeral services.

The two Churches will also seek to involve one another in their procedures of appointing new ministers, clergy and staff throughout the Covenant Area.

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, said the partnership was an important opportunity for the two churches.

“This marks an important step for the diocese and the Leeds Methodist District," he said.

"It will encourage us to strive for closer connection with other churches, both together as well as separately. We hope that through our own working more closely together, we will also be able to encourage unity between other churches.

The Rev Dr Mark Wakelin, President of the Methodist Conference, will be present at Saturday’s ceremony.

“Christ calls us to unity with one another, but that doesn’t mean uniformity.

“It will be a privilege to share in celebrating the gifts and heritage of both Churches, while looking to a more fruitful and exciting future together.”