Thursday, 11 February 2010

Church of England General Synod

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York invited us to address the Church of England General Synod today which was meeting at Church House in Westminster. It was the first time the President of the Methodist Conference had done so since Brian Beck was President 16 years ago and possibly the first time ever that the Vice-President has been invited to speak.


We were greeted warmly and we felt we were amongst friends. We shared a little about the structure of the Methodist Church and Conference, and some of the experiences we have had during the last few months. We talked about the importance of valuing the gifts and talents of all people, lay and ordained, as well as valuing our different characteristics and traditions. We repeatedly stressed that we are stronger working together, quoting Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, that the body is only made whole if we all appreciate and value what each other brings and offers.


We emphasised the importance we placed on our covenantal relationship and talked about the many areas where our two Churches are working together productively. However we did acknowledge that in many areas of the country individuals and groups are frustrated at the lack of progress being made and the barriers they encounter to greater joint working.


We concluded by reminding Synod members of the powerful words of the Methodist Covenant Service Prayer and suggested that Methodists approach the Anglican-Methodist Covenant in the spirituality of this prayer. We echoed what previous Conferences have agreed, that we are prepared to be changed and even cease having a separate existence as a Church if it will serve the needs of the Kingdom. But our parting challenge was that both our Churches needed to approach the Covenant in this spirit.

A full copy of our address can be downloaded from this site, although what that will not contain is the reference we made to the President sharing his blue gloves with the Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster at the Wave Climate Change rally in December, in order that they were both properly dressed for the cameras. A true sign of partnership working.


Our hope is our visit to the General Synod will act as a catalyst to renewed joint work together, and give greater impetus to those working to find resolutions to the big questions that still face us.

6 comments:

Gerard Guiton said...

Dear Dr. Gamble,

I have just read the report of your speech to the Anglican Synod and note your courageous stance vis-a-vis the future of Methodism.

As a theologian I particularly applaud your commitment, and that of your denomination, to the Kingdom of God, the central focus of Jesus and often neglected by the mainline churches.

I am not a Methodist but have often felt at home with those who are.

My concern is that, in forging re-union with Anglicanism, Methodists would be in danger of subsuming the greatness of the tradition under the dead weight of a hierarchical structure with all the negatives such a position would, in my opinion, imply.

My suggestion, if I may be so bold, is for the Methodist Conference to enter into serious negotiations with fellow non-conformists---particularly the Quakers whose whole theological raison d'etre is indeed the Kingdom.

I know this might sound fanciful and too radical a move, but if my suggestion is given serious consideration by the Conference, then I believe much fruit may come from accommodation with the Society of Friends which remains, despite some heterodoxy among its number, solidly Christian with much the same Kingdom goals as Methodism.

I also note that your position assumes sacrifices on behalf of Methodists. Would the sacrifices be greater with the Anglicans than with the Quakers?

I hope you and the Conference can give this idea (proposal?), which admittedly comes 'out of the blue' at you, prayerful thought.

Blessings,

(Dr.) Gerard Guiton (Quaker)

Gerard said...

Dear Dr. Gamble,

I have just read the report of your speech to the Anglican Synod and note your courageous stance vis-a-vis the future of Methodism.

As a theologian I particularly applaud your commitment, and that of your denomination, to the Kingdom of God, the central focus of Jesus and often neglected by the mainline churches.

I am not a Methodist but have often felt at home with those who are.

My concern is that, in forging re-union with Anglicanism, Methodists would be in danger of subsuming the greatness of the tradition under the dead weight of a hierarchical structure with all the negatives such a position would, in my opinion, imply.

My suggestion, if I may be so bold, is for the Methodist Conference to enter into serious negotiations with fellow non-conformists---particularly the Quakers whose whole theological raison d'etre is indeed the Kingdom.

I know this might sound fanciful and too radical a move, but if my suggestion is given serious consideration by the Conference, then I believe much fruit may come from accommodation with the Society of Friends which remains, despite some heterodoxy among its number, solidly Christian with much the same Kingdom goals as Methodism.

I also note that your position assumes sacrifices on behalf of Methodists. Would the sacrifices be greater with the Anglicans than with the Quakers?

I hope you and the Conference can give this idea (proposal?), which admittedly comes 'out of the blue' at you, prayerful thought.

Blessings,

(Dr.) Gerard Guiton (Quaker)

Micky said...

I've just read the full statement and I'm very impressed - not least that you managed between you to describe the structure and history of Methodism in such a succint and informative way!

Thank you for mentioning women and the ministry and role of women, lay and ordained, so frequently. Those listening can have been in no doubt as to how important that is to Methodism.

It will be very interesting to hear what Archbishop Rowan will say in response at Conference, and is already fascinating to watch the responses in the media and in cyberspace.

Alison said...

I'm waiting to hear similar words from the CoE. I'm waiting for the CoE to sort out its ridiculous inequalities. I'm waiting for a senior CoE clergy to have something intelligent to say about the Methodist Church, and not just "well, the Covenant is all about Methodists becoming Anglicans" (not an exact quote, but the gist of a senior London Anglican cleric). I'm waiting, but I think it won't be in my ministry (and I have 31 or 34 years of travel to go). In the meantime, let's get on with being the Church, and wait for the CoE to catch on and catch up.

Dudley said...

Richard and David

A small point but, whilst I was not invited to speak to the Synod as Vice President, I was the Methodist representative on the Synod during my Vice Presidential year and spoke in that capacity. I was also warmly congratulated when the Synod heard the previous year that I had been elected as Vice President. So at least some of them have a glimmering of an idea of how we work.

David said...

It isn't going to happen.

I go into some of the legal practicalities on my blog.

http://methodistpreacher.blogspot.com/2010/02/methodist-future.html

In the spirit of openness I trust you will post this comment.