Canada's largest and second-largest Protestant churches have started a new round of dialogue to explore how to work together for more effective ministry and mission.
Representatives from the United Church of Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada met in Toronto in mid-May to discuss "the doctrinal identities of the two churches and the implications of this for the lives of the churches, including understandings of sacraments and orders of ministry," the churches confirmed this week.
The next meeting, scheduled for January 2013 in Vancouver, will focus on the manner in which each church's doctrine, worship and life is informed by creedal statements, the ACC said.
"Much of the impetus for these conversations is coming from the grassroots of our two churches," Archdeacon Bruce Myers, the Anglican church's coordinator for ecumenical relations told the Anglican Journal. "Many communities across Canada are served by ecumenical shared ministries in which Anglicans and United church people and clergy work and worship side by side. They're asking our churches' leadership to find ways to facilitate such cooperation in mission and ministry."
The representatives met at St. John's convent, the headquarters of the Sisters of St. John the Divine. The group also shared common prayer, meals and fellowship, according to the report.
The latest meeting builds on six years of formal conversations which ended in 2009. Results of those talks were reported in Drawing from the Same Well: The St. Brigid Report.
While the two churches attempted created a Plan of Union in 1975, which ultimately failed, this time around the churches are being ambivalent about setting concrete goals for the talks.
"At this point, the dialogue is being deliberately ambivalent about setting any kind of concrete goals or objectives for these conversations. We want to be open to the Holy Spirit's leading about what unity between us might look like," Myers said.
The list of participants in this round of talks, according to the ACC is below.
Representing the Anglican Church of Canada:
The Rev. Dr. William Harrison (co-chair)
The Rev. Dr. Gordon Jensen (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada)
The Ven. Dr. Lynne McNaughton
The Rev. Dr. Paula Sampson (unable to attend)
The Rev. Stephen Silverthorne
The Ven. Bruce Myers (staff)
Representing The United Church of Canada:
The Rev. Dr. Andrew O'Neill (co-chair)
The Rev. Dr. Sandra Beardsall
The Rev. Elisabeth Jones
Ms. Lorraine Kakegamic (unable to attend)
The Rev. Donald Koots
Dr. Gail Allan (staff)