In addition to worship and legislation, General Convention always features an exhibit area with all kinds of resources. Take a look at a few below.
On the last day exhibits were open, Hope Benko took some time to look at some of the many books and other resources on display.
Forma – Christian Formation
Forma, an organization dedicated to Episcopal Christian Formation resources, had a booth to show curricula and other resources. Take a look at Forma’s YouTube channel for several short videos on aspects of faith formation.
Education for Ministry
Education for Ministry (EfM) is one of the adult learning resources profiled in the exhibit hall. The ministry of theological education celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. If you haven’t been through the EfM program, check it out on our diocesan website and find a group near you.
The Forward Movement publishes several popular formation resources such as Daily Devo devotionals for families, Confirm, Not Conform resources for confirmation classes, and the Forward Day by Day devotionals that are often found in the tract racks and back tables of churches throughout The Episcopal Church.
In addition to all of these, Forward Movement is involved in the immensely popular Lent Madness. If you haven’t made a bracket of saintly souls and voted on your favorites, try it this coming Lent.
Ethan Lowery, who works with the Episcopal Asset Mapping initiative, says that our own Tracie Middleton is one of his favorite people to work with. Katie, who coordinates disaster relief in the United States through Episcopal Relief and Development is a longtime friend of Canon Waggoner.
You can see from the photo below that the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is participating in the asset map.
We need help filling in the details of what’s going on at each of our churches. Help us out – take a look at our volunteer job board and click on “Map your congregation’s assets.”
The Rev. Jordan Haynie Ware, a member of the Fort Worth deputation, is serving on The Episcopal Church – United Methodist Church Dialogue Committee on Full Communion. Here’s what she has to say about the work she’s involved in:
“There are some who say that ecumenical work isn’t important, or that we should ‘get our own house in order’ before we begin discussing relationships with other Christians. But relationships with other Christians are at the heart of the Christian life. They are our fellow members of the Body of Christ, and St. Paul cautions us against telling these members ‘I have no need of you.’ (1 Cor 12:21).
“A full communion partnership with the United Methodist Church would be particularly sweet. Methodism originally arose as a reform of Anglicanism as practiced in England in the 18th century. John Wesley, its founder, proudly died an Anglican. It is a great travesty that our ancestors were not able to find a way to accept the gifts that both ways of being Anglican Christians brought to the table, and to be reconciled now would be an inspiring witness to the world, as well as bringing us closer to the imitation of Christ.” – The Rev. Jordan Haynie Ware
If the dialogue stays on track, the committee hopes to submit resolutions to the next General Convention (our main governing body) in 2018 and also to the General Conference (the United Methodists’ main governing body) to formally approve the full communion relationship.
In May, the United Methodist Church’s Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships hosted the Dialogue Committee in Washington, D.C., with support from the Episcopal Church’s Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations.
“In its next meetings, the Dialogue Committee will agree to the content of resolutions to be submitted to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church and the General Conference of The United Methodist Church. The Committee will also seek to identify and encourage local expressions of existing unity in mission between Episcopalians and United Methodists—in congregations, theological education, advocacy, worship, and service.”
The most recent version of the proposal is titled “Assist Us to Proclaim the Gospel: A Proposal for Full Communion.”
The agreement with each denomination is unique, with some commonalities. In practice, full communion usually means, among other things, that our two denominations’ clergy can serve in each other’s churches and use each other’s liturgies, and our bishops can participate in each other’s consecrations. Our members can share together in the sacraments and form creative partnerships.
“Sharing in holy things creates a visible communion of the faithful, an ecclesial communion.” – The Episcopal Church website
Current Full Communion Agreements
Past dialogues have resulted in our joining in full communion partnerships with five other denominations so far: the Moravian Church (Northern and Southern Provinces), the Mar Thoma Syrian Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Philippine Independent Church, and the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht.
For The Episcopal Church to create a full communion agreement with The United Methodist Church – or with any denomination – two critical areas are catholicity and independence. The term catholicity refers to wholeness or universality; our two denominations agree enough about our doctrine, our exercise of ministry, and the sacraments, that we see the Church fully represented in each other. Our two denominations also recognize that we have distinct identities and structures; full communion does NOT mean merging. It encourages sharing resources, however, including people and places.
The full communion relationship between the Episcopalians and the ELCA is the ground, for example, of the Common Grace Lutheran congregation that meets at St. Luke’s in Stephenville under the leadership of one of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth’s clergy, the Rev. Curt Norman.
Ongoing and potential future partnerships
Some of the other resolutions before the Convention also deal with ecumenical dialogues with other denominations.
Resolution A017 affirms ongoing dialogues: Presbyterian Episcopal Dialogue, Anglican Roman Catholic Consultation in the USA, as well as relationships among the primates of The Episcopal Church, the ELCA, the Anglican Church of Canada, and The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.