From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
United Methodists Adopt COCU Proposal
25 May 1996 05:33:22
23 May 1996
96188 United Methodists Adopt COCU Proposal
by Linda Bloom
United Methodist News Service
DENVER--The United Methodist Church has become the sixth and largest
denomination to adopt the covenanting proposal of the Consultation on
Church Union (COCU).
By a vote of 661 to 288 -- nearly 70 percent -- delegates of the 1996
United Methodist General Conference here accepted the proposal brought by
the denomination's Council of Bishops. A minority report calling for a
postponement on covenanting was defeated.
Byrd Bonner, a lay delegate from San Antonio and chairperson of the
COCU task force of the denomination's Commission on Christian Unity and
Interreligious Concerns, called the proposal a unique opportunity to merge
grassroots ecumenism with the ecumenical theological movement among
According to Bishop William Boyd Grove of Albany, N.Y., COCU creates a
"spiritual, covenantal union," not an organizational or structural one.
Member denominations of the covenant will recognize each other's churches,
baptism and ordained ministry and celebrate the eucharist together. On the
local level, covenanting councils will be formed.
To address a concern about recognizing homosexual ministers from other
denominations, an amendment was added to the report. It reads: "The United
Methodist Church shall maintain its own standards for ministerial training
and the ordination of ministers which shall also apply to our reception or
transfer of ministers , including any prohibitions set by General
Formed in 1962, COCU began its life as an organization aimed at
facilitating an actual merger of its members, but later changed its
direction to promoting a spiritual rather than structural unity.
A COCU member since the beginning, the United Methodist Church adopted
the theological basis for a plan of union, "The COCU Consensus," in 1988.
The covenanting plan itself, "Churches in Covenant Communion," was first
considered in 1992 before being adopted in 1996.
Five other COCU member denominations have committed themselves to
covenanting: the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), United Church of
Christ, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, the International Council of
Community Churches and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
The Presbyterians adopted covenanting in 1993, but still must approve
necessary constitutional amendments to enable their participation. Those
amendments will be presented to the upcoming General Assembly of the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) this summer in Albuquerque, N.M.
The African Methodist Episcopal and African Methodist Episcopal Zion
churches are expected to approve covenanting this summer. The Episcopal
Church, still considering the proposal, will take longer to vote, Grove
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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