Category : Methodist

(Star-Tribune) Minnesota’s mainline Christian denominations face unprecedented declines

For 100 years, Lutherans in this farming community on the Minnesota prairie have come to one church to share life’s milestones.

They have been baptized, confirmed and married at La Salle Lutheran. Their grandparents, parents and siblings lie in the church cemetery next door.

But the old friends who gathered here early one recent Sunday never imagined that they would one day be marking the death of their own church.

When La Salle Lutheran locks its doors in August, it will become the latest casualty among fragile Minnesota churches either closing, merging or praying for a miracle. Steep drops in church attendance, aging congregations, and cultural shifts away from organized religion have left most of Minnesota’s mainline Christian denominations facing unprecedented declines.

“Sunday used to be set aside for church: that’s what families did,” said Donna Schultz, 74, a church member since grade school at La Salle, in southwest Minnesota. “Now our children have moved away. The grandkids have volleyball, dance on weekends. People are busy with other things….”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Methodist, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, United Church of Christ

(Christian Today) Could sexuality be a thorn in the side of the Anglican-Methodist unity pact?

What is perhaps a more pressing question is what would happen to the Anglican-Methodist Covenant were either church to change its opposition to gay marriage. Would a sudden change by the Methodist Conference in 2019 or 2020 scupper the long proposed deal…?

It certainly might make the strong conservative base on the Church of England’s ruling general synod less enthusiastic.

But difference in teaching on sexuality is not officially a block on sharing ministry.

The Church of England is already in direct ‘communion’ with its sister Anglican churches in Scotland and the US. This means that priests in both churches are recognised as such by the Church of England and so they can, as long as the local bishop agrees, come and minister in CofE parishes.

Both the Episcopal Church in the US and the Scottish Episcopal Church permit same-sex marriage, and while they faced sanctions from the wider Anglican Communion, they remain in communion with the CofE.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Jon Talton offers thoughts on the fading Central Methodist Church in Phoenix, Arizone

I was baptized in Central Methodist Church, so many decades ago. I remember Sunday school, attending services with my mother and grandmother. My mother had a glorious contralto and, a child prodigy trained as a concert pianist, sometimes played the immense pipe organ, with its 4 divisions, 28 stops, and 41 registers. In the 1960s, it was common for each service to see a thousand people or more, filling the sanctuary and its three balconies. Central was a prime posting for veteran ministers — only doctors of divinity reached the senior rank — and the choir was superb. I was confirmed there, age 13.

When I returned to Phoenix in 2000, I started attending Central again, this time with Susan. Getting a hundred people in the pews was a victory by that time. The quality of preaching was uneven, as individual ministers came and went (long gone from the days of a senior minister and others). But the music program was very strong under Don Morse. The core, including the corps of ushers, was committed. Important for us, Central still offered a traditional service, with the wonderful Methodist hymns. Christmas Eve could see five services in the soaring sanctuary, with luminarias in the courtyard. We continue to attend. When I lived in Charlotte, people would ask me if I had found “a church home.” No — in that hotbed of religion, the question irritated the secular me. “I have a bar home,” I would respond. But the truth was different. My church was here. It always was. Always will be.

But this year brought heartbreaking news. First, the music program was downgraded, with Morse and seemingly most of the choir gone. Finances were an issue; the church and Morse, who had already taken a pay freeze/cut, couldn’t come to terms. But respect also seemed an issue, the lay leaders wanting to downgrade his position to “choirmaster.” A botched remodel of the sanctuary was probably another cause, including the loss of the pipe organ and removal of two of the balconies. I don’t claim special insight. I spent many years in United Methodist choirs, but tried to avoid church politics whenever possible. Next came word that the sanctuary would only be used for special occasions. A traditional service would be held in the small Pioneer Chapel and a contemporary one in Kendall Hall.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Methodist, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Cath News NZ) Anglican-Methodist reunion likely

Two matters are of particular concern in relation to reuniting the two churches.

One is whether Methodist presbyters would have to be re-ordained to provide a unified and public catholic witness. The synod report proposes the Anglican Church recognise Methodist ministers’ holy orders.

The other issue is about how churches should be led.

Anglican churches operate under an episcopal model with bishops seen as following on from the apostles, as the Church’s leaders. As bishops consecrate more bishops and ordain new clergy, the “apostolic succession” continues.

Methodists do not accept the idea of “apostolic succession” in the Anglican sense.

If the churches were to reunite, an Anglican bishop would take part in ordaining new Methodist ministers, enabling them to enter the “apostolic succession”.

The Methodist Conference says it is willing to receive the episcopate as long as partner churches acknowledge that the Methodist Church “has been and is part of the one holy catholic and apostolic church”, Ruth Gee, former president of the Methodist conference says.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist

Church of England General Synod welcomes move towards communion with Methodist Church

The General Synod has given its welcome to a report containing proposals which could bring the Church of England and the Methodist Church in Great Britain into communion with each other.
Members backed a motion welcoming a joint report published last year, which sets out proposals on how clergy from each church could become eligible to serve in the other.

The report, Mission and Ministry in Covenant, which was co-written by the two churches’ faith and order bodies, also sets out how the Methodist Church could come to have bishops in the historic episcopate.

The motion acknowledges that there is further work to do to clarify a number of areas, including how the proposals would be worked out in practice.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist

(Christian Today) Diarmaid MacCulloch: ‘Why Anglicans who object to reconciliation with Methodists should read more history’

The point of worry seems to be a break in a succession of hands in ordination from the apostles who were the first followers of Christ. That strikes me as a professional historian of the Church (and also in Anglican orders) to be a very unrealistic view of Christian history.

First, ‘the historic episcopate’ throughout the Christian world is a pragmatic, gradual creation of the second century CE, which links with the first apostles, but does not do so exclusively. There was no single bishop of Rome, for instance, until the 2nd century, and earlier lines of single succession there are benevolent fictions.

Second, the Church of England is a Church of the Reformation which just happened to keep bishops. It is actually a ‘Reformed’ Protestant Church, that is not Lutheran, but part of a family of European Churches, some of which kept bishops in their government, some not. So national Reformed Churches in England, Ireland, Hungary, Romania and Poland have bishops. Up to 1662, clergy from other Reformed Churches served regardless in the CofE when they came here: often they were placed in English cathedrals or universities, not to quarantine them in some way but simply because they didn’t speak much English, and there they could exercise a ministry in the learned language of Latin.

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist

(Church Times) Proposals on Methodism compromise the C of E’s faith and identity, says Andrew Davison

I grew up in an Anglican-Methodist family, and went to a Methodist Sunday school. I rejoice at the prospect of a closer relationship with the Methodist Church. The report before the General Synod, Ministry and Mission in Covenant, pursues that noble aim, which makes its failings all the more agonising. With a few adaptations, it could be a triumph; as it stands, it compromises the faith and identity of the Church of England.

Our Church upholds ancient Catholic order: bishops in the his­­toric episcopate are the ministers of ordination; the eucharist is celeb­rated by them, and by the priests they ordain. This is central to what makes the Church of England Cath­o­­lic as well as reformed: not vest­­ments, nor genuflection, but order.

The intolerable departure from that order, proposed in this report, would be to invite ministers who have not been ordained by bishops to serve in the place of Anglican priests. This would last beyond the lifetimes of those reading this article. Imple­mented as the report stands, Meth­od­ist presbyters who have not re­­ceived episcopal ordination will preside at the eucharist in parish churches, chaplaincies, and fresh ex­­­pres­­sions for decades to come. That would not be as ecumenical guests, but as the celebrants of C of E ser­vices.

For the C of E to accept that would be to say at least one of the following: (1) that nothing sig­­nificant distin­guishes ordination by a bishop from ordination with­out; (2) that nothing about the eucharist (or anointing or absolu­tion) is significant for the jour­ney of salva­­tion; (3) that orders are ir­­relevant in these cases, since means of grace depend only on the inner dis­position of each individual. Each of those arguments sells short the faith and practice of the C of E.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Theology

Forward in Faith’s statement on the proposed Methodist-Anglican reunion

Found there:

Anglo-Catholics are among those who are most committed to the full visible unity of Christ’s Church. We are therefore grateful to those who have worked to produce the present proposals for a development in Anglican-Methodist relations, which the Forward in Faith Executive Committee considered at its meeting on 31 January. It is a matter of regret that we must oppose them in their current form.

As the report Mission and Ministry in Covenant (GS 2086) makes clear, significant questions and concerns have been raised, not least in the House of Bishops. Will these proposals bring us closer to unity, or might they, by creating two related but distinct episcopates within England, merely serve to entrench separation? Given the Methodist Church’s model of corporate oversight, can the office of ‘President-bishop’, to be held for one year only, be recognized as a ‘local adaptation’ of the historic episcopate upheld in the Catholic Church in East and West through the ages? We note that further work is to be done on these questions, but are concerned at the suggestion that work on such substantial issues could be completed by July.

Of even greater concern are the consequences of these proposals for catholic order in the Church of England. To permit those who have not been ordained by a bishop to minister as Church of England priests, even for a ‘temporary’ period (which might last for sixty or seventy years) is for us not a ‘bearable anomaly’ but a fundamental breach of catholic order. We deeply regret that the report rules out further consideration of this issue. As loyal Anglicans, we uphold the doctrine and discipline regarding Holy Orders that is enshrined in the historic formularies of the Church of England, and in the 1662 Ordinal in particular. We shall oppose any proposals that would effectively set that doctrine and discipline aside. We note that it is to the inheritance of faith embodied in these formularies that all who minister in the Church of England must affirm their loyalty by making the Declaration of Assent.

We remain fully committed to the search for the full visible unity of Christ’s Church, but we do not believe that it can be advanced by sacrificing catholic order and Anglican integrity

.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Theology

(C of E) Bishop John Inge–Healing the wounds between Anglicans+Methodists

The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, explains why he will be supporting new proposals for communion between the Church of England and the Methodist Church in Great Britain.
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.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Theology

(Telegraph) Church of England braced for ‘controversial’ vote on using Methodist ministers

Church of England leaders are braced for a “controversial” vote on whether it should share ministers with the Methodists as part of plans set to boost struggling rural churches.

The proposals will be debated at the Church’s governing body, the General Synod next month – but senior figures warned that some will see the proposals as “very problematic”.

The plans would allow priest from each church to preach at the other, and would help areas where there are “serious challenges in sustaining a Christian presence”, church leaders suggest.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Parish Ministry

(NYT) As Overdose Deaths Pile Up, a New Hampshire Medical Examiner Quits the Morgue

In the state morgue here, in the industrial maze of a hospital basement, Dr. Thomas A. Andrew was slicing through the lung of a 36-year-old woman when white foam seeped out onto the autopsy table.

Foam in the lungs is a sign of acute intoxication caused by an opioid. So is a swollen brain, which she also had. But Dr. Andrew, the chief medical examiner of New Hampshire, would not be certain of the cause of death until he could rule out other causes, like a brain aneurysm or foul play, and until after the woman’s blood tests had come back.

With the nation snared in what the government says is the worst drug epidemic in its history, routine autopsies like this one, which take more than two hours, are overtaxing medical examiners everywhere.

“It’s almost as if the Visigoths are at the gates, and the gates are starting to crumble,” Dr. Andrew said. “I’m not an alarmist by nature, but this is not overhyped. It has completely overwhelmed us.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Methodist

(Good News) Tom Lambrech–Bright Spots in a Confusing Decision by the recent United Methodist Judicial Council

1. The Judicial Council clearly and forcefully upheld the principle that a jurisdiction’s bishops, acting on behalf of the whole United Methodist Church, cannot legally consecrate as bishop a person who does not meet the qualifications for office. The Western Jurisdiction had maintained that it could elect and consecrate whoever it thought would be an appropriate bishop in light of their particular context, and that the rest of the church could say nothing about their choice. The ruling recognized that bishops are bishops of the whole church and that jurisdictional bishops are acting on behalf of the whole church when they consecrate a bishop. No jurisdiction or annual conference is completely autonomous. We are part of a connection that is responsible and accountable to each other.

2. The Judicial Council clarified that “a same-sex marriage license issued by competent civil authorities together with the clergy person’s status in a same-sex relationship is a public declaration that the person is a self-avowed practicing homosexual.” This important ruling will put an end to games that some openly homosexual clergy have been playing by living in a same-sex marriage, yet declining to acknowledge that they are practicing homosexuals. Rather than requiring church authorities to ask intrusive questions about the personal lives and practices of clergy, all that is now necessary for a person to be brought up on a complaint is the public record of being in a same-sex marriage. The Judicial Council recognized that being in a marriage assumes a sexual relationship, and that it would then be up to the clergyperson under complaint to give “rebuttal evidence” during a complaint process to refute that assumption in an individual case. This should make it much easier and more straightforward to hold accountable some clergypersons who are living contrary to the moral teachings of the church.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology: Scripture