My dear people,
The week ending January 25th is set apart as a week of prayer for Christian Unity. And this year we are bound to be thinking particularly about the possibility of union between the Church of England and the Methodist Church, for we in the parishes and circuits have to declare our minds this year on the scheme put forward by the 12 Anglican and eight Methodist representatives who signed the report on the conversations between the two Churches which have been going on for the last seven years.
My own view is that there is such a lot that we still have to learn about our own beliefs and practices as well as those of our fellow Christians that we shall not be ready to give a properly considered opinion this year. On the other hand I know that we must do our best and give all the time we can to studying the problems and seeking to understand each other. The matter is of great urgency.
I have spent a lot of time studying the Report and in spite of the difficulties I believe we should go forward towards union on the basis laid down in it. The great obstacle is the Minority Report signed by four of the Methodist representatives. These four clearly represent a large body of Methodists; and it would seem very unlikely that people sharing their views would be happy to go through with the proposed scheme of union.
What then is likely to happen in 1965 when the Convocations of the Church of England and the Methodist Conference have to make their decisions? In the Convocations there would be an overwhelming vote in favour of going ahead providing the Methodist Conference found itself in the same position. But I would expect to see a large part of the Methodist Conference voting against the scheme. The Church of England would certainly not desire union with the Methodist Church is such union meant a split in Methodism. It would be far better to wait some years in the hope that further study and discussion might lead to agreement.
However we have to face the fact that the split in Methodism might take place if the scheme is rejected. Many members might join the C. of E. And this would be a tragedy. For the C. of E. needs reforming; and union with the Methodist Church would bring many reforms with it. We don't want to swallow the Methodists. They'd give us indigestion. We want union with them and with union reform.
A happy New Year to you all.
Your friend and Vicar,
Source: Parish Magazine, January 1964, Page 4