Anglican and United Churches renew formal dialogue between denominations

The Anglican Church of Canada and The United Church of Canada have begun an ongoing dialogue. These are the first formal conversations between the two denominations since the end of the Plan of Union talks in the 1970s.

The meeting took place February 13-16, 2003 at the Vancouver School of Theology.  The V.S.T. meeting site is significant because the school was the product of earlier ecumenical cooperation between the two churches, along with the Presbyterian Church in Canada.  It was important for the dialogue to meet with faculty from the school and hear their reflections about current ecumenical relationships.

The mandate of the dialogue is to identify and address issues affecting our relationships.  The major task of the first meeting was to identify the most significant areas of mutual interest and concern.  These were named as core theological affirmations, sacramental theology, missiology and witness, shared ministries, and indigenous issues and relationships.  Central to the dialogue team’s work is the impetus toward deepening each community’s understanding of the other.  To this end, perceptions, stereotypes and history are being explored.

The next meeting will take place in Winnipeg in November 2003 and the major issues for consideration will be shared ministries and relations with First Nations people.

Members of this dialogue came away from the meeting feeling that this was a positive step for the two churches to be taking at this time.  The participants were:


David Ashdown (Bishop of Keewatin, Kenora ON), Heather Labrie (lay person from a shared lay ministry congregation, Slave Lake, AB), William Harrison (professor of theology and Anglican studies, Saskatoon, SK), Rosalyn Robertson (lay reader and social activist, Lawrencetown, NS), and staff person Alyson Barnett-Cowan (Toronto ON)

United Church:

Gerald Hobbs (professor of Church history and music, Vancouver, BC), Bob Mills (retired United Church minister and past General Secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches, Halifax, NS), Kelly Shapiro/Ojosho Benisikwe (minister in training, Winnipeg, MB), Nobuko Iwai (rural minister, Davidson, SK) and staff person Chris Ferguson (Toronto ON).

William Harrison and Kelly Shapiro were named co-chairs of the dialogue.

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Contact:  Alyson Barnett-Cowan, Director, Faith, Worship and Ministry, 416-024-9199 ext. 281


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