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
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