Moravian Church in America ratifies full communion agreement with The United Methodist Church
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2018
BETHLEHEM, Pennsylvania - The Northern Province of the Moravian Church in North America on Friday, June 22, voted at its synod meeting in Bethlehem to enter into a full communion relationship with The United Methodist Church. With this action, the full communion agreement between The United Methodist Church and the Moravian Church in North America has been ratified.
The Southern Province previously approved the agreement at its synod meeting in April of this year and the General Conference of The United Methodist Church approved it at its meeting in 2016. The next step in the implementation of the agreement will for the two churches to establish a joint commission for the coordination of the full communion relationship.
The proposal for full communion between the Moravian Church in North American and The United Methodist Church was the result of several years of dialogue by the United Methodist-Moravian dialogue committee. The full text of the agreement can be found here.
The formalizing of this relationship is particularly significant given the historic links between Moravians and Methodists. The Moravian Church in North America traces its lineage back to the work of Czech reformer Jon Hus and his followers in the early to mid-15th century. In the 18th century, missionaries from the Moravian movement in London and colonial America played a significant role in the lives of John and Charles Wesley. It was under the spiritual tutelage of the Moravians that John Wesley came to a new appreciation for the deeply personal and experiential quality of faith in Jesus Christ. It was at a Moravian prayer meeting on May 24, 1738, that Wesley had his famous heart warming experience.
Wesley borrowed from the communal life of Moravian small group units called “bands” in his own organization of Methodist Societies and incorporated the practice of the Lovefeast into early Methodist spirituality.
A formal “full communion” relationship is one in which two or more churches publicly and visibly recognize one another as members of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. In such agreements the parties recognize each other’s sacraments, offices of ministry, and Christian mission as fully valid and authentic, while also maintaining the autonomy and distinctive gifts of each church. “A formal ‘full communion’ relationship,” states the Book of Discipline, “commits the churches to working together as partners in mission toward fuller visible unity” (¶431.1c).
The Moravian Church in North American is already in full communion with The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The United Methodist Church is also in full communion with the ELCA and is engaged in ongoing work toward full communion with The Episcopal Church. Additionally, The United Methodist Church is in full communion with the following member churches of the Pan-Methodist Commission: The African Methodist Episcopal Church, The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, The African Union Methodist Protestant Church, The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and The Union American Methodist Episcopal Church.
Media Contact: Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications – Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
Ecumenical Contact: Rev. Dr. Kyle R. Tau
Ecumenical Staff Officer - Faith & Order and Theological Development
Council of Bishops - The United Methodist Church