From the Worldwide Faith News archives

United Methodists Adopt COCU Proposal

Date 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   Web page: 


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