United Methodists have taken the first step toward full communion with Episcopalians and most Lutherans after their bishops approved an agreement to share the Eucharist, with members of the two other denominations.
The United Methodist bishops, meeting in Arlington, Virginia, approved the pact May 5. Church officials expect similar agreements to be approved by the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America within a year.
The three-way agreement officially permits the trio of denominations— with more than 15 million members altogether—to share communion and join in ministry together. It also moves the churches one step closer to full communion, in which the three churches can swap clergy and recognize one another’s sacraments.