Methodists join disestablishment debate - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
February 22, 2005

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Methodists join disestablishment debate

-22/02/05

Two leading British Methodists, both former annual presidents of the Methodist Conference (the highest position in the denomination), joined the debate about the possible disestablishment of the Church of England this week.

The Rev Dr John Vincent, who is also former head of the Urban Theology Unit in Sheffield, made it clear that he favours an end to church-state fusion. He claimed that the Church of England, as a national institution, was being ìusedî by the state, reports the latest Methodist Recorder.

Dr Vincent, a radical theologian, says that in terms of the future of Methodist-Anglican relations, which have been growing closer in recent years, ìwe cannot be seen to be hand-in-glove with any national government.

But another Methodist ex-president, the Rev Dr Leslie Griffiths, weighed in on the other side, claiming that religious minorities valued the Church of Englandís role and suggesting that the alternative to establishment ìwould simply be the voice that shouted loudest.î

Renewed interest in the question of establishment, the mechanism by which the Church of England is subject to the crown, has been raised by constitutional wrangles surrounding the intended marriage of Prince Charles and Ms Camilla Parker-Bowles.

This highlights the way in which the Church is not able to select its own governor and is reliant on a future Defender of the Faith being provided by royal heredity rather than free choice, say critics.

The UK Christian think tank Ekklesia has argued that establishment is not good for inter-church relations, inhibits the proclamation of the gospel free of state interests, and compromises radical social action. It also contradicts the idea of church as ëthe new community of equalsí created by Jesus, points out director Jonathan Bartley.

Ekklesia is suggesting that the Church of England should formally invite other denominations and church networks into a ìfair, equal and theologically grounded conversation about church-state relations and bout ways of moving beyond establishment.î

Find books now:

Methodists join disestablishment debate

-22/02/05

Two leading British Methodists, both former annual presidents of the Methodist Conference (the highest position in the denomination), joined the debate about the possible disestablishment of the Church of England this week.

The Rev Dr John Vincent, who is also former head of the Urban Theology Unit in Sheffield, made it clear that he favours an end to church-state fusion. He claimed that the Church of England, as a national institution, was being ìusedî by the state, reports the latest Methodist Recorder.

Dr Vincent, a radical theologian, says that in terms of the future of Methodist-Anglican relations, which have been growing closer in recent years, ìwe cannot be seen to be hand-in-glove with any national government.

But another Methodist ex-president, the Rev Dr Leslie Griffiths, weighed in on the other side, claiming that religious minorities valued the Church of Englandís role and suggesting that the alternative to establishment ìwould simply be the voice that shouted loudest.î

Renewed interest in the question of establishment, the mechanism by which the Church of England is subject to the crown, has been raised by constitutional wrangles surrounding the intended marriage of Prince Charles and Ms Camilla Parker-Bowles.

This highlights the way in which the Church is not able to select its own governor and is reliant on a future Defender of the Faith being provided by royal heredity rather than free choice, say critics.

The UK Christian think tank Ekklesia has argued that establishment is not good for inter-church relations, inhibits the proclamation of the gospel free of state interests, and compromises radical social action. It also contradicts the idea of church as ëthe new community of equalsí created by Jesus, points out director Jonathan Bartley.

Ekklesia is suggesting that the Church of England should formally invite other denominations and church networks into a ìfair, equal and theologically grounded conversation about church-state relations and bout ways of moving beyond establishment.î

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.