It is Methodist tradition (originally taken and adapted by John Wesley from Puritan traditions) to share at the beginning of the year in a Covenant service. In that service we celebrate God’s faithful love and we offer ourselves to God’s service once again. For many Methodists, this service takes place in January; for some it is used instead at the beginning of the Methodist year in September. It is a demanding (and lengthy) liturgy, shaping both our joy and our seriousness in renewing our commitment to God in Christ.
At the Queen’s Foundation, one of our Tuesday/Wednesday evening services in the early weeks of the spring term has generally taken some elements of the Methodist Covenant tradition and combined that with a time of renewing our commitment to one another as the Queen’s ecumenical community. We called it a Service of Covenant and Covenanting, and because only those who are on campus on Tuesdays or Wednesdays were able to take part, we encouraged others to use some of the same material in their personal prayers.
This year, we will be doing things differently – in common with many Methodist churches who are re-thinking or postponing their traditional Covenant services. On 25th January, at the end of the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, we will hold Queen’s Foundation Worship online at 7pm.Clive Marsh will preach, and we will reflect on, celebrate and renew our commitment to being an ecumenical community. Many more members of the Queen’s community will have the chance to participate in the service than ever before. On the other hand, because of restrictions of time, format, and the fact that we cannot share Holy Communion together, we have decided that we will not use the elements of the Methodist covenant tradition this year, but will focus entirely on the ecumenical commitments we make to one another. A short document is attached, with the words of the commitment we will be making together on that evening.
If you are interested in exploring the Methodist Covenant tradition and in particular the form in which some communities have shared it in these very different times, a service sheet produced by the Methodist Church can be found at this link: https://www.methodist.org.uk/our-faith/worship/singing-the-faith-plus/seasons-and-themes/worship-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/. Look for ‘Worship from home service sheet for Sunday 3rd January. There are also links to various online services and you can ‘watch again’ how some churches offered an online Covenant Service.