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Methodists and Churchmen

28 July 2017

July 27th, 1917

ONE thing that the war has done is to bring home to many hearts the sadness of a divided Christendom and to awaken a longing for its re-union. If this new feeling were not abroad, it would scarcely have been possible for the Bishops of London and Chelmsford to visit the Wesleyan Conference with the object of commending to its members the thought of re-union. It should be said in passing that both the episcopal visitors treated their appeal to the Methodists as part of the larger scheme for re-uniting the entire East and West. For their immediate purpose, however, they confined themselves to the question of the relation of Methodism to the Church. Beginning as a guild of Churchmen, who bound themselves to live according to a “method”, or rule, it drifted more or less apart from the Church and from the intentions of its founder, but it was not until a couple of decades or so ago that it assumed the title and status of a “a Church”. We believe that not a few of its younger members especially deplore their formal separation from the Church whence they are sprung, and are conscious of some things that are lacking in their separated state. The Bishop of London went the length of saying that the fundamental differences between Methodists and Churchmen require a microscope to discover them. Whether this is the case or not, there are differences which, at present, are an obstacle to re-union, but, with goodwill and a sincere desire to restore that unity for which our Lord prayed to His Father, it should not be impossible to adjust them. With God nothing is impossible, and nothing should be impossible for workers together with God. When the history of the Methodist movement is considered, it would seem that the first step to the re-union of Christendom might be made by the Wesleyans’ recovery of the position, which, of their own act, they relinquished.


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