Episcopalians and Presbyterians initiate new conversation

June 18, 2002

Meeting at the Seamen's Church Institute in lower Manhattan, a few blocks from the Ground Zero site of terrorist attacks on September 11, representatives of the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA) inaugurated a new round of official dialogue, beginning with a Bible study and discussions on gifts for ministry and common baptism.

Personal vignettes focused on how members in both churches are living out their baptismal ministries and how the churches understand the role of ordained ministries. Presbyterians described the role of Elders who serve in full parity with ministers of Word and Sacrament. Some discussion centered on the meaning of Apostolic Succession and the Historic Episcopate, with Episcopalians describing the role of bishops, priests and deacons.

'What is the way forward?' asked George Telford, a retired professor of Columbia Theological Seminary, in the final session of the June 6-8 meeting. Several participants suggested the dialogue review what is happening in the broader international family for both churches--the Anglican Communion and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. Another suggestion was to seek voices from church members who are living on the edge of the ecumenical frontier in cooperation and shared ministries, looking at models for mission in racial/ethnic communities and among youth ministries.