Resolution affirming goal of full communion with United Methodist Church gets approval by House of Bishops

By Melodie Woerman
Posted Jun 24, 2024

Methodist Bishop Gregory Palmer addresses the House of Bishops June 24 after it adopted a resolution commending the goal of full communion between The Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church. Photo: Randall Gornowich

[Episcopal News Service – Louisville, Kentucky] On June 24 the House of Bishops approved the next step toward full communion between The Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church by adopting Resolution A049, as amended.

The resolution states that General Convention “joyfully anticipates advancing towards full communion” between the two churches and encourages Episcopalians to learn more about these efforts over the next three years.

The Episcopal Church currently is in full communion with seven churches: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada; the Moravian Church-Northern and Southern Provinces; the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, India; the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht; the Philippine Independent Church; and the Church of Sweden.

On April 30, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church voted to establish full communion with The Episcopal Church. On May 1, delegates removed the denomination’s ban on ordaining gay clergy, and on May 3, they redefined marriage and ended official church condemnation of homosexuality.

Retired Montana Bishop Franklin Brookhart noted that one sticking point is the issue of lay presidency, because Methodist local pastors, who are not ordained as clergy, can preside at celebrations of the Eucharist. But this policy, Brookhart said, “has no real binding concern on us.”

San Joaquin Bishop David Rice quoted the Rev. Gregory Palmer, resident bishop of the Ohio West Area and co-chair of the United Methodist-Episcopal Church dialogue, by saying “Now is the time, this is the moment, we are the people.” Rice said, “We’re not there yet but are getting closer” on full communion, and he urged continuing work with Methodist bishops and among faith communities of both denominations.

On a voice vote, the bishops adopted the resolution, which included an amendment added in committee that would have the convention “celebrate with The United Methodist Church the historic and sweeping changes to the Book of Discipline and Social Principle” concerning ordination and marriage of LGBTQI people.

Palmer, who was in the house gallery to observe the debate, then was invited to address the house. After thanking the bishops for their action he said this movement toward full communion is “a sign for what God intends for all of us.”

— Melodie Woerman is an Episcopal News Service freelance reporter based in Kansas.