(R)ejected no more

15 March 2013

THIS is a story of division, ejection, and rejection which led to a service of reconciliation in the Methodist church in Bewdley, which is in the Anglican diocese of Worcester. The occasion was prompted by the visit of the President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Dr Mark Wakelin (above, centre), to the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury Methodist District

Dr Wakelin is a descendant of Henry Oasland, who was Vicar of St Mary's, Bewdley (the site on which St Anne's Parish Church now stands), at the time of the Great Ejection of 1662, when more than 2000 Puritan ministers, refusing to use the Book of Common Prayer, were ejected from the livings that they had been given under the Commonwealth.

He went on to found the Presbyterian church in Bewdley (on the site where the RC Holy Family Church now stands). So the visit of Dr Wakelin seemed an ideal opportunity for a special service of reconciliation to be held in the Bewdley Methodist Church.

It was led by the superintendent minister of the Kidderminster & Stourport Methodist circuit, the Revd Mary Austin (second from right), and the minister, the Revd Linda Catlow (second from left). During the service, the Team Rector of St Mary's, Kidderminster, Canon Owain Bell (left), who is also a Methodist minister through involvement with the LEP, told the congregation how the Puritan divine Richard Baxter had been ejected from St Mary's.

Dr Wakelin then shared the story of his family connections with Henry Oasland. Both spoke of the Great Ejection, and of the Puritan influence, and Dr Wakelin suggested that such splits in the Church had not all been bad, but had led to a new creativity.

Also present at the service were Bill Robson, of Baxter United Reformed Church, Kidderminster, and the Revd John O'Brien, a deacon from Holy Family. The Rector of St Anne's, Bewdley, the Revd Keith James (right), who is also Rural Dean, led the intercessions, and, after the service, escorted Dr Wakelin to St Anne's, where the Methodist President was welcomed on behalf of his ancestor Henry Oasland.

Speaking for the Methodists, Mrs Austin said that it was a wonderful occasion of reconciliation, and remarked on the strong relationships that they had with the Anglican churches in the area.

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