This week's joint statement also called for “mutual recognition of baptisms” between the IFI and the Catholic Church. The Trinitarian baptismal formula of the IFI has already been recognized by the Catholic Church in its list of validly administered baptisms by other Christian churches.
"We acknowledge this gift of Faith in God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as expressed in the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed," read the statement.
"We share the same Baptism, using the Trinitarian formula. This sacramental initiation incorporates us all in the one Body of Christ," it added.
"Moreover, both churches manifest a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, invoking her maternal intercession for all her children to come together and for upholding the dignity of women," read the statement, which was signed by two Episcopalian bishops as witnesses.
The IFI entered into full communion with the Episcopal Church in 1961. In 1980, the Philippine Episcopal Church also affirmed in a signed agreement its mutual recognition of baptism with the Catholic Church.
Through the joint statement, both Churches urged the faithful through local communities in parishes, schools and seminaries "to forge these ecumenical ties of fellowship and common action."
The Church leaders vowed that through “spiritual ecumenism,” they would encourage joint activities in prayer services, such as the celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Stations of the Cross during Lent and Holy Week processions and Scripture reading on Easter Sunday and other important feast days.
"Members of both churches can also join hands in social action ministries such as defending human rights and the dignity of the poor, migrants, women and children, and indigenous people; care for the environment; and peace building," it added.
The IFI has 47 dioceses, including the Diocese of the Eastern and Western United States and Canada, with an estimated number of eight million members. It is led by a Supreme Bishop similar to a presiding bishop in other denominations.
The Church is the second-largest single Christian denomination in the Philippines after the Roman Catholic Church, comprising about 6.7 percent of the total population of the country.
Jose Torres, Jr., is editor-at-large of the Catholic Asian news site LiCAS.news. He is also editorial consultant of Radio Veritas Asia. He finished his Multimedia Journalism studies at the Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University.