It is a terrible indictment of the Church of England that Methodists found they had to separate from us in the first place. So much good has been borne of Methodism, though. Having attended a Methodist school I owe it a great debt of gratitude for my Christian formation.
Michael Ramsey described the failure of his plan for reunion with the Methodist Church to garner the necessary two thirds majority in General Synod as the ‘saddest day of my life.’ I was confirmed by him in Canterbury Cathedral shortly afterwards in what I believe to have been the first Anglican-Methodist confirmation service. It was a small sign of hope in a depressing situation.
More than forty years later, we have another opportunity to heal this gaping wound in the Body of Christ. It will involve sacrifices by both communions but they are a small price to pay. I hope with all my heart that we shall be prepared to make them.
For us, the acceptance of the ministry of Methodist ministers does not mean sacrificing the principle of episcopal ordination. It is, rather, a very temporary and bearable anomaly which will enable all to be episcopally ordained in the future.
The acceptance of episcopacy by Methodists is arguably a bigger ask, one which I fervently hope they will be willing to embrace - ut unum sint, ‘That they may be one’.
Full details of proposals to be discussed at General Synod can be found here.