Our Common Life Together

This writing appeared in The Natchez Democrat on Wednesday, February 29, 2012.

This evening, the community is invited to a time of worship and fellowship as United Methodists and Episcopalians celebrate their common heritage. Worship will begin at 6 p.m. at Grace United Methodist Church, and a reception will follow at Trinity Episcopal Church.

On March 3, 2009, the Feast Day of John and Charles Wesley, Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, presiding bishop of the Mississippi annual conference of the United Methodist Church, and Bishop Duncan M. Gray III, Episcopal bishop of Mississippi, entered into a formal covenant for Common Life between the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi and the United Methodist Conference of Mississippi.

The purpose of this covenant is to “foster the development of common Christian life between our two churches.”

Since that date, there has been an annual celebration of the covenant at parishes throughout the state.

The first occurred in Jackson, the second in Meridian, the third in Oxford, and this year the service will take place here in Natchez.

At the worship service, Bishop Gray will deliver the sermon as Bishop Ward presides at the table for a Service of Holy Communion.

There will be a joint choir to deliver the anthem, and clergy and laity from both parishes will assist in worship.

Immediately following, all will travel to Trinity Episcopal Church for a time of fellowship.

The purpose of this Covenant is to bring the two churches into “full communion” with each other.

“Full communion” is a relationship between the two churches in which each maintains its own autonomy while recognizing the catholic and apostolic heritage of the other.

Because John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism, were Anglican priests, we recognize that these two churches share the same foundation.

Come celebrate this covenant of unity and diversity as we welcome members of both denominations to Natchez.