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Plans to bring Methodist Church and Church of England closer together move forward
The Church of England's governing body has backed steps to unite it with the Methodist Church and heal a centuries-old schism.
Members of the General Synod voted to formally declare a new relationship of communion between the two churches on Sunday.
It comes two years after a joint report: Mission and Ministry in Covenant, which set out how clergy from each church could begin to serve in the other.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: "I for one am profoundly committed to moving forward in this matter for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of the Church and for the sake of the world we are sent to serve."
The House of Bishops will report on drawing up draft texts around declaring the new communion after elections to the new General Synod next year.
Methodism, Britain's fourth largest Christian denomination, came about in the 18th century through the outdoor sermons of Anglican cleric John Wesley.
The non-conformist movement broke definitively with the Church of England in 1795, four years after his death.
Moves to unite the two branches of Christianity since have been unsuccessful.
Christopher Cocksworth, the Bishop of Coventry, told Synod members they had a "historic opportunity" before them.
He said: "My prayer is that you we will make a clear and well-informed decision with full awareness of its implications.
"Not only for our relationship with the Methodist Church, our close historical cousin and covenant partner, but also for the credibility of the commitments of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion have made for 100 years to restore the unity of the Body of Christ."
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