Saturday, 1 November 2003

Anglican-Methodist Covenant

This was signed today in a service which started in Methodist Central Hall, Westminster and finished across the road in Westminster Abbey.

The Methodist Church has a report which includes links to the address given by the President of the Methodist Conference, and to a pdf file of the complete order of service.

Westminster Abbey has a brief report and if you follow the link to “More…” you will find two photographs taken during the Abbey part of the service.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s address does not appear to be online yet, but the text of it is available in a press release which is copied below.
[Update on Monday 3 November - The Archbishop’s address has been put online by the Anglican Communion News Service.]

The BBC has Anglicans and Methodists end rift.

An Associated Press report can be read here on the CTV (of Canada) site and icWales has this.

Archbishop of Canterbury’s address

Press release from Lambeth Palace
Embargoed until 1100 hrs - check against delivery
Address given at the signing of an Anglican - Methodist Covenant Central Hall, London
Saturday 1st November 2003

At his first meeting with leaders of the Jewish community in Rome, Pope John
XXIII, it’s said, greeted them with the words, ‘I am Joseph, your brother’.
He was evoking one of the most poignant moments in the Old Testament:
Joseph, whose arrogance had provoked the resentment and rejection of his
brothers, is carried off into exile and slavery, then rises to great power.
He finds that this power is given to him so that he can save the lives of
his brothers when they come to him, not knowing him, begging him for help;
and at last he reveals who he is: ‘I am Joseph, your brother’.

The application of this to Jewish-Christian relations is perhaps not as
straightforward as the Pope’s generous instincts might have suggested. But
the point we might want to think about today is how the providence of God
works in and through even our divisions. Just over two centuries ago, the
insensitivity and missionary sluggishness of the Church of England provoked
a dramatic act of protest from John Wesley; and our two families began to
grow apart. Yet in those centuries of separation, don’t we have to say that
both of our church communities have been given gifts and have learned
lessons that we might not have learned or received had this never happened?
As we now take this -significant step in our growing together again, we do
so not in the pretence that two hundred years have been wasted, or that we
can go back to where we were. We have all, in the intervening years,
discovered things about Christ and his Kingdom that we are now eager to
share with each other, as brothers and sisters working to overcome the
distant legacy of arrogance and resentment.

Wesley was a very reluctant protester - a loyal conservative High Churchman,
expert in the Greek Fathers and the French mystics, he was no natural rebel.
He would have been as honoured and delighted as are we all today to see Her
Majesty the Queen witnessing and praying with us on such an occasion,
marking the full involvement of the Church of England in this reconciling
moment through the participation of its Supreme Governor. Yet Wesley came
to the point where he believed that he and his followers could only be fully
obedient to Jesus Christ if they took the risk of separation. No-one can
easily pass judgement on this costly decision, and no-one is seeking to do
so; what we can be sure of is that by God’s direction it bore fruit in
witness and transforming service to the Kingdom of God in this nation and
far beyond.

It is an irony that as we celebrate this new mutuality today, we also as
Anglicans face new tensions and divisions, with those on both sides of our
current troubles believing that obedience calls them to a risky break with
what we have thought of as orthodoxy and good order. But perhaps this
celebration is timely after all in God’s purpose. It is a reminder that
when we can no longer see how to hold together, God will still teach us in
our separateness; and one day we shall be led, in both thankfulness and
repentance, to share with one another what we have learned apart; to bring
to one another a history not without its shadows and stresses, but still one
in which something quite distinctive has been learned. And if all God’s
gifts are given to be shared, we have no option finally but to offer them to
each other in reconciliation.

God be thanked, then, even for our years of separation. Gifts have been
given that can never be forgotten or laid aside, because God uses every
opportunity of loving zeal and devotion to Jesus Christ to pour out his
abundance. Thanks to our brothers and sisters for the good news their
history proclaims to us; but thanks again to God for the even better news
that our growth together will bring to the Church and the world.

ENDS

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 1 November 2003 at 9:35pm GMT | TrackBack
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