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Anglican-Methodist ministerial interchangeability

24 May 2013


From the Revd Bruce Bridgewood
Sir, - I notice that the Church of Ireland has come up with the doctrine of the interchangeabilty of ministries between us and the Methodists (News, 17 May). I have no doubt that it will not be long before our own ecumenists will announce something similar to apply to the Church of England.

Of course, the issue is muddied at the moment by the issue of the ordination of women to the episcopate, but, leaving that aside for the minute, has anything changed in the ecclesiology department since 1970?

A non-episcopal ministry cannot be equated with any of the three orders of bishops, priests, and deacons; the distinction is not the "ordination" as such, in the sense of being set apart by a Christian community: this is accepted. The distinction is essentially one of relationship to a bishop and thereby to the Universal Church.

I recognise, of course, the commissioning of non-episcopally ordained ministers such as Methodists, and I recognise that the old distinctions of "valid" or "invalid" are now obsolete; but I still think that we can't get round the need for some sort of "conditional" episcopal ordination of these people.

I realise that, for many, "liberal" is a dirty word, and I think this to be untrue; but the defining thing about liberals, none the less, is that they want to be nice to everyone else. So, if this desire obscures scripture, reason, and tradition, it must go. To be radical (of the roots) is to be preferred.

15 Temple Orchard
Amersham Hill, High Wycombe
Bucks HP13 6PH

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