Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiness Denominational Leaders Meet to Strengthen Ties

The article, below, comes from the Nazarene Communications Network website, which apparently picked it up from The Wesleyan Church:


Holiness denomination leaders meet to strengthen ties

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lenexa, Kansas

Superintendents, presidents, and bishops of 10 denominations and holiness bodies met for a two-day summit in Lenexa, Kansas, to discover ways to spread scriptural holiness and remain committed to the message in the Wesleyan-holiness tradition.

The Church of the Nazarene's Board of General Superintendents hosted the annual meeting of the Wesleyan Leaders Summit, December 3-4 at the Global Ministry Center.

Several task forces were appointed by this year's summit members to do follow-up work on topics of mutual concern, including development of an online, digital holiness classics library; procedures to allow for easier transfer of ministerial personnel and credentials for ministers in good standing between member bodies; statements for possible joint releases that address pressing social and moral issues; and cooperative scheduling of Holiness Summits (grassroots-led, regional events to encourage holiness evangelism and revival).

A subcommittee also was appointed to develop proposals for a voluntary global Wesleyan alliance that could foster greater cooperation and synergy among like-minded church bodies worldwide.

Wesleyan Leaders Summit representatives gather annually for professional enrichment, fellowship, sharing best practices, discussion of cultural trends and current issues impacting their ministries, and informal networking to encourage greater interdenominational cooperation.

Executives at this year's summit included representatives of the Church of the Nazarene, the Free Methodist Church, The Salvation Army, Church of God Ministries, Inc., The Missionary Church, the Churches of Christ in Christian Union, the Church of Christ Holiness (USA), the Congregational Methodist Church, the Methodist Protestant Church, and The Wesleyan Church.

Additional leaders from the Evangelical Church, the Evangelical Methodist Church, and the International Fellowship of Bible Churches anticipated attending, but were unable to do so at the last minute. The next Wesleyan Leaders Summit is scheduled for December 2-3, 2011, in Circleville, Ohio.
 --Board of General Superintendents, The Wesleyan Church Communications

-------------------------------

In reading the article, above, I would note that all but (possibly) three of the denominations listed were members of the Christian Holiness Partnership, which seems to no longer be a functioning organization. The denominations that were not CHP members include the Church of Christ, Holiness (USA), which seems to primarily be an African-American denomination; the Methodist Protestant Church (those who did not join in the 1968 union that formed the United Methodist Church); and the Church of God Ministries, Inc. I'm not sure who this latter denomination is (thus the "possibly," above). If it is the Church of God (Anderson), it is unusual that it was not listed as "Anderson." On the other hand, if it is not the CoGA, then it is unusual that they were not at the meeting.

I find several items in this article to be interesting, and I look forward to hearing about future developments. 

Among the things that I find greatly interest is the exploration of a "global Wesleyan alliance." This, I'm guessing would take the place of the national Christian Holiness Partnership. However, it will be important to pay attention to whatever terminology any future organization would use. These are obviously not the only "Wesleyan" denominations. Also considered Wesleyan denominations are such groups as the United Methodist Church, the AME, AMEZ & CME, none of which were involved in this meeting. For that matter, one can look at the World Methodist Council, itself, noting that three of the denominations in this meeting are members of the WMC. If one is simply looking for a global Wesleyan alliance, there it is! 

However, what we have here are "Wesleyan-Holiness" denominations, and that is the alliance we are looking at.  That is important, because some of these groups would not identify, at all, with a group like the World Methodist Council.  In fact, the "Wesleyan" identity of some of the Wesleyan-holiness denominations seems to be focused only on the doctrine of Entire Sanctification.  Therefore, the term "Wesleyan-Holiness" would be much more fitting for such an alliance.
In general, I wish that there were talks of merger more than "alliances" (which will come as no surprise to those who have read my blog). However, I admit, when it comes to mergers, I would be in favor of merging with those who share and strengthen the Church of the Nazarene's Methodist identity, and I would be less excited about merger with those who would dilute that identity. - Still such a "global alliance" would be an exciting development, and any attempt at strengthening cooperation is always a good thing.

28 comments:

JREwing said...

The Church of the Nazarene would only merge if they could swallow up the other denominations. They would insist on keeping their "Manual" structure.
They looked into a merger years ago and that was the obstacle to merging. The Nazarene's insisted on keeping all their colleges, budget structure, and their system of government. They simply wanted to swallow up the other denominations.
Mergers will never happen in our lifetime.

Todd Stepp said...

I am aware of the events in the past, and I am, reluctantly, as realistic as you . . . but not quite as pessimistic as your last statement.

There have been talks on more than one occassion. The "real" merger talks that took place quite some time back, and then the talks that the Wesleyan Church G.S's have brought to our G.S's in later years.

The hearsay indicates that one of our G.S's said to the Wesleyan's, "Come join us" (or something similar).

The issue that "allows" the Nazarenes to hold that position is the fact that we are so much bigger than everyone else who would come to the table.

However, as I understand it, The Wesleyan Church has pushed the idea of merger with a number of smaller groups. If it would turn out that The Wesleyan Church could put together a group that would end up closer in size to the CotN, then it may be that Nazarenes would rethink the idea of merger.

On the other hand, it could be, with changes in leadership, we could move toward merger.

As I say, I'm not as pessimistic as you on this matter.

I wrote the resolution to the last G.A. that spoke of exploring merger possibilities. Unfortunately, while the G.A. passed the resolution, it had been so watered down that "merger" had been pretty well replaced with "cooperation."

Still, if the G.A. would vote something through, the leadership would have to follow along. If the leadership would gain a new vision, then that would influence the G.A. - There is a two prong approach.

BTW, back in 2001, the AMEZ(or AME?) and the CME were starting merger talks. I talked with Earle Wilson (Wesleyan G.S.) and sent a letter to our G.S's about sending observers to those talks as a possible help toward a possible Nazarene/Wesleyan merger. Dr. Wilson jumped on that, and our G.S's agreed (as I understand it). Unfortunately, the AMEZ/CME talks ended before they started, so that there was nothing to send any observers to.

The point is, who knows what the future holds or how God might work among us. - One thing seems clear to me: it undermines the holiness (i.e. perfect love) message when so many relatively small denominations can't get together, especially in light of Christ's prayer that we be one.

Thanks for your post!

Todd+

JREwing said...

I still say that the system of government and the colleges will be the killer when it comes to mergers. Nazarenes will not give them up.
The Free Methodist colleges and universities are self-endowed, meaning that they receive no funds from churches. Churches are not "taxed" for their college support. So why would the Free Methodists want to merge and have all their churches begin to pay for someone else's colleges?
Social issues would play a role too. I know many Free Methodists who drink and are very liberal politically. Wesleyans and Nazarenes are predominately no-alcohol, and conservative Republican dominated. Nazarenes, from my experience, are very possessive of their "Manual", and quote it frequently. I've never heard a Free Methodist refer to their "Discipline" in all the years I've known them. Nazarenes tend to be less "ecumenical" too. Not saying that to criticize them, but the Naz churches I've known pretty much stick to themselves. They always seem to be insistent on using "Nazarene" materials for discipleship for example.
So you have social issues, colleges, budgets, and the system of government that would be major issues.
BTW: I enjoy your blog.

Todd Stepp said...

Just responded, and the computer lost it!

I agree that colleges would be THE issue.

I don't think Manual would be an issue, as long as there is one (hopefully using the term "Discipline"), and there would be. The Manual is changed slightly every quadrennium. After last G.A., there will be major changes in the future. What that will look like, I'm not yet clear, but it seems that we are headed to a "core/global" Manual, with much of the current Manual being left to world regions.

I doubt the liberal/conservative thing would be that big. I know plenty of demo. Nazarenes and those who drink. To quote a G.S. when asked if the special rules are binding: "That's the question isn't it? It depends on where you live."

Besides, even the "liberal" in the tradition are usually conservative when place along side the range in the UMC.

Polity/Government I doubt would be a big issue, because the Nazarenes/Wesleyans (especially) and the FM really are fairly close.

However, from what I hear (including a FM bishop) I don't think FM are interested in any merger. The Wesleyans have been actively looking for merger.

Having been around colleges that are denominational in little more than name only, I don't mind our system of support, either, but, again, which colleges stay and which go would be the big deal.

As to material, much of our stuff (S.S., anyway) is cooperative with the other W/H churches. And while I wish we would be more open to others in the larger Methodist tradition and the "Great Tradition," I'm not interested in generic evangelical or Calvanistic stuff. - Incidently, we used some really good children's discipleship stuff from a tradition that claims "only the Bible," but I had to do a lot of editing because of a phrase they constantly used concerning the atonement that is not in the Bible but straight from the Calvinistic tradition.

I wish we were more ecumenical, but we are members of the same ecumenical groups as the Wesleyans and FM (viz., CHP, NAE & World Methodist Council). I just don't see that big of a differnce in this area between the three churches.

The other big issue would be name! (I heard this from a Nazarene insider during the last serious merger talks). Nazarenes would likely not be willing to give up a name that confuses everyone!

Thanks for your comments!

Still praying, with Christ, that we be one!

Todd+

Eric + said...

Todd,

Do you know if the other Methodist groups you discussed were invited and declined or if they simply weren't invited.

I do find it interesting that when talks of merging arise we Nazarenes are perfectly happy to have small groups join us, while we would never in a million years entertain the notion that maybe we could benefit by joining the UMC.

In other words, it is OK to ask other groups to give up "their" churches for the good of the whole, but we would never be willing to give up "our" church for the good of the whole.

To me, therein lies the problem. It is always the big groups that want to ask the little groups to sacrifice. What if we took the initiative and said the Wesleyan message is worth preserving and in order to do that we approached the UMC and said, we would like to have our churches become UMC?

The dynamic is completely different when one gives up oneself vs. asking a weaker sister denom. to give up hersel.

If we are serious about mergers I think we have to look at a kenotic model where we seek to give up ourselves that he might increase.

Wheter the issue is polity, or episcopacy, or colleges, or whatever, that is the problem. Everyone wants to hold onto their own and ask the other to sacrifice.

Well, back to sermon prep.

Marsha Brockman said...

Not only will colleges be a sticking point, but property ownership as well. Nazarene churches are owned by their districts. If any one church wanted to pull out of the denomination, their property would be seized by the district. Some of the other Holiness denominations have owner ship of local church property by the actual local church. Those denominations are not going to give property rights to a conglomerate denomination.

Eric + said...

Marsha,

This is precisely my point. Everyone is too concerned with them and theirs for something like this to happen. Unfortunately, that attitude is antithetical to the kenotic nature of Christ which the Church and its members are called to imitate (see Philippians 2).

If we are serious about merging in order to strengthen our Wesleyan message, the best option for the CotN would be to seriously sit down as a denom. and ask what we would be willing to give up to make said merger a reality. Then begin talks not with the smaller groups, but the larger ones saying, "We value the Wesleyan message. We think it would be strengthened if we could come together. We are willing to give up x,y,z to join you in this endeavor."

As long as it is the CotN saying to the smaller churches, "come join us," it will just be viewed as a power grab.

JREwing said...

Maybe one should ask if the Church of the Nazarene should join the United Methodist Church. That would seem to make the most sense of any proposal.
Anytime I hear about "mergers", it is always mentioned in the context of the Nazarenes wanting to swallow up smaller denominations. In that context, they should just save their efforts.

Todd Stepp said...

JREwing,
Concerning the who of mergers, Nazarenes and United Methodists are too different. Most Nazarenes don't even realize that there is any connection with the UMC, and they have no idea that there are "conservative/holiness" United Methodists.

Outside of the World Methodist Council, the CotN has no formal or regular relationship with the UMC.

The holiness churches do get together and have for decades and decades. They have worked cooperatively for years on many projects and published materials.

I would point out that it is The Wesleyan Church that has, over the years, aggressively approached others, including the CotN & FMC formerger.

The CotN & The Wesleyan Church (and then the FMC) are just about as close as you can get, and there have been merger explorations and support from some within these three denominations in years past.

It would make much more sense for the CotN & The Wesleyans (and then the FM) to merge. The reason that people talk of the CotN simply absorbing the others is because of its size compared to the others. Certainly, if the smaller groups merge with anyone, they will be pretty much "taken over."

Marsha, I really think that property issues could be taken care of. When the East & West merged to form the CotN, this was an issue. Some local churches were given a period of years, afterwhich, if the merge "took," their property would be district owned. There were those that retained local property, and I have heard of one, at least, that, to this day, despite the Manual, still has local ownership.

Denominationally speaking, it is much wiser for the denomination to own the property, I think. The Wesleyans, over the years have lost many congregations due to local ownership.

Todd Stepp said...

What I would like to see, as a first step involves the CotN and The Wesleyan Church, with the FMC invited (but recognizing that the former two would be closer and more open to merger than the FMC), then anyone else who might be interested.

I think it would be great if they could work on a common set of Articles of Religion/Faith, using Methodism's origional 25 as a starting point, along with an article on (Entire) Sanctification. They could work on restoring our common General Rules and membership requirements. They could work on common requirements for ordination and a common understanding of ordination.

With that, they could make a "covenant declaration" that our two (three or more) denominations are essentially one. It would e something similar, but more far reaching than what the mainline churches mean when they talk about being in full communion.

After that, they could begin the hard(er) work of organic merger, perhaps beginning that phase by producing a common Discipline with certain sections being adapted as needed by each denomination. (This would be similar to what is already done, I believe with the federations that makes up The Wesleyan Church and the FMC on the global level, and what seems to be in store for the CotN.)

At least the common Articles/General Rules/Membership and Ordination requirement with a covenant statement of essential unity would be a great thing, and I think very doable!

Perhaps, since my last resolution on merger was reshaped in committee, I might try this sort of thing for the next G.A.

Todd+

Thomas said...

Todd,
Forgive my ignorance (as I am not a member of any of the denominations mentioned above), but I was wondering about a comment you made concerning ordination...
You said: “They could work on common requirements for ordination and a common understanding of ordination,” and that such a step would be a good starting point for talks about merger.

My question is: Do some of these churches have bishops and some not? In other words, do some denominations among these groups have a theology of ordination which includes the *episcopate* while others reject such an understanding of ordination?

If so, my question then becomes: Would this rise above simply “governance” of the church (in strictly human terms), and be instead a more fundamental disagreement about ordination as a theological concept, as a biblical reality? At that point it would not simply be a disagreement about forming ‘committees’ or ‘general assemblies’ or how to take votes on matters concerning the newly merged denomination; rather it would be a real doctrinal/theological dispute about the concept of ordination. Would this not be a more serious matter than say, the funding of colleges or the ownership of property? Would it not be more directly related to the *Faith* rather than simply finances or day-to-day operations?

Sorry if I’m way off base (maybe these churches do all have bishops and so there is already common theological ground, or maybe it’s just not as doctrinally essential as I think it would be). Anyway, I just wonder if you have any thoughts on how that would play out in a merger - the episcopate as it relates to ordination?

Todd Stepp said...

Thomas,

I don't think the kind of doctrinal issues surrounding ordination would likely come into play, at least not with the three major groups (viz., Nazarene, Wesleyan & Free Methodist).

They each (as is the case with at least some of the others) have either "bishops" or "general superintendents." The latter is the term that Wesley used in place of bishop, but was recognized (by his brother, Charles, and others) as being the same as the episcopal position of "overseer" (i.e., general superintendent) or "bishop."

The UMC, originally used the term g.s. in place of bishop, as did the FM. the Wesleyans and Nazarenes use the term g.s.

Wesley used the same ordinal for g.s. as did the Church of England for bishop. He just changed the term.

None of the groups claim apostolic succession in the same tactile/episcopal way as does Rome.

Some of the groups did reject the kind of "episcopal" power that the mainline Methodist bishops tended to use (or misuse), thus, their "superintendency" is limited in certain ways (e.g., termed elections).

Nevertheless, those that stay close to their Methodist heritage have the g.s. ordain (though at times it has been permisable to allow one designated by the g.s. to do so). For these groups, ordination is "for life" and a universal ordination (i.e., not to a local congregation, etc., but for the "Church of God"). Thus, the g.s. or bishop, representing the larger church, ordains.

It may be that, some of the smaller groups may do it differently, but it is close enough between the three largest groups.

What I was referring to is simply having a common set of requirements and understanding that all of the groups agreed upon.

Hope this helps!

Thanks for jumping in on the conversation, Thomas!

Todd+

Thomas said...

Interesting. Thank you for the explanation. I guess the Catholic understanding really is different...which of course explains my confusion.

Does that make the Wesleyan understanding of bishops (and ordination in general) a departure from the Anglican understanding? Within the Anglican Communion is there not more of an emphasis on the fullness of the priestly ordination resting in the episcopate? Maybe I'm way off base on that, or perhaps that is a High Church (or Anglo-Catholic) view.

As I'm sure you know, the Catholic view of ordination is three-fold with the episcopate as the head of the local church (and receiving the fullness of the priestly orders) and the presbyterate and diaconate share in the priestly ministry of the bishop. I had always understood that Anglicanism had at least a *similar* view to this three-fold understanding, even if their theology differed in the particulars. Does Wesleyanism see the fullness of ministry residing in the presbyterate, and that the 'bishop' (or 'general superintendent') status is then added to the role of a particular presbyter for purely administrative purposes?

Thomas said...

After posting that last question, the thought just occurred to me...If ordination is not viewed as a Sacrament (as Catholics do see it) then I suppose that would alter your view of the priestly ministry entirely...and at every level.
So if the presbyterate is not the product of a Sacrament then the episcopate is likewise a non-Sacramental position. If that is the case, then I suppose that some of the doctrinal problems I wondered about above become less crucial differences of opinion rather than a doctrinal crisis as I thought they would be... Would that be correct? Perhaps it is an over-simplification.

Eric + said...

Thomas,

I think two issue come into play in this discussion of "Wesleyan" understanding. You have identified the first, in that Wesleyans do not view ordination (or initiation to the episcopal office) as a sacrament. It is certainly practiced as sacramental, in that it is accompanied by the laying on of hands and an epiclesis, but theological it is not "a sacrament."

The other thing to take into account is that the Weslayan churches (at least the Wesleyan-holiness ones as I'm not sure how the UMC would address this particular issues) do not understand the episcopacy as an order but rather as an office. Only elders/presbyters can be elected to this office, but the episcopacy itself is not an order distinct from the presbytery.

Now that will raise a whole other set of questions, but I'm not going to dive into those here.

Eric + said...

btw... Todd, I know we have disagreed as to who in the CotN ought to be understood as bishops in the past. I am more convinced of your position that the GENERAL superintendcy ought to be equated with bishop rather than the SUPERINTENDENCY as a whole.

This is because the Manual places the authority to interpret scripture and polity with the BOGS specifically.

So my scorecard looks like this:

Connectivity (church to church and pastor to church): DS

Ordination: typically GS (but still fuzzy)

Authority for Interpretation: GS

This is how it is. But I still think we would be much better off theologically and practically to authorize the Superintendents to ordain and interpret as a BOS, so that they are clearly the Bishops. Then replace the GS with a Presiding Superintendent from each world region. I would be happy however, just to have the GS offically recognized as Bishop

Thomas said...

Thanks for the answers...Very interesting. I guess it goes to show that we may use the same terminology (like 'bishop' or 'ordination') and yet mean very different things by those terms.
Sorry to step in on your discussion. And thanks again for taking the time to answer.

Todd Stepp said...

Eric,

The UMC sees it the same way. They make it clear that the office of Bishop is a "Special Ministry, Not Separate Order," but they do often act very much as though it is a "third order."

They clearly have a consecration for their bishops. - Remember that when Wesley sent over The Sunday Service, he simply replaced the term "bishop" with "superintendent" in the ordinal.

In fact, the title or the service is "The Form of Ordaining of a Superintendent." Yes, it was "ordaining" a Superintendent. - This set along side Wesley's insistence that elder and bishop were essentially the same order in the NT.

Today, (since the mid to late 1800's) the ordinal uses the term "Consecration." - Interestingly, the Book of Worship states, "It is strongly urged that the consecration service also include representatives from other Christian communions."

Eric + said...

My DS told me not too long ago about being invited to a service as an ecumenical partner (I don't remember if it was a consecration or ordination) He was impressed by the service.

Thomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thomas said...

All of this still leaves me with a question: Is the Wesleyan (and Methodist) idea of ordination and the episcopacy a departure from the Anglican idea? It is my understanding that Anglicans do accept the three "degrees" of ordination (with the episcopacy as the highest degree).

To focus my question more directly on the subject at hand... If the Wesleyan churches were to unite under one organizational head, having settled all of their disputes, would not the next step be to turn to the larger Anglican Communion and seek unity there? And if so, then wouldn't the question of *ordination* and the role of the episcopacy be a stumbling block at that point? In other words, how far does unity go before ordination must be addressed in a more fundamental way? If our goal is the unity of all Christians (as Jesus prayed), then at some point this and many other issues must be addressed.

Also...Was Wesley's change of terms, from "bishop" to "superintendent," a reflection of some doctrinal problem he had with Anglicanism? To say that he "simply replaced” a word seems to gloss over his reasoning for such a switch. Terminology in matters of faith can carry much weight - especially in official church documents. I wonder if you have any insight into Wesley's motives for this switch? We call things by their name for a reason, and Wesley switched names...so what was his reasoning?

My apologies if this seems off track... But ecumenical challenges of this sort do interest me. But most of all, I notice that this blog is called “Wesleyan/Anglican” so it begs the question whether Weslyanism and Anglicanism are in conflict on this point and whether such a doctrinal difference can be overcome toward greater unity.

Eric + said...

No apologies necessary. Yes ordination would be a stumbling block to full unity -- probably for both sides. And yes, it makes Wesley's understanding of the episcopacy a departure from Anglicanism. I am not sure how much this was theology forming practice vs. practice forming theology. Wesley did not want in any way to break away from the Anglican church. He always understood his Methodist Societies to be Anglican. His problem was practical. He had Methodists (Anglicans) in America and the Anglicans would not send bishops to America to make sure there was a priesthood to serve their people there. Wesley then was "forced" into creating a separate episcopacy for his Methodists in America.

But how could he do that? He appointed an episcopacy. He was able to do this, as Todd pointed out, because he saw in the NT a single order. This never seems to be a discussion or a point of divergence - as I recall - prior to the dilema.

So you can see how it might be unclear about which came first and which shaped which. The point is that those whose faith comes through Wesley have remained fairly consistent in the agreement of two offices and one order.

Todd Stepp said...

Thomas, very good perceptions and very good questions.

First, let me say that Wesley did depart from Anglicanism (or at least Anglo-Catholicism w/the Church of England) in at least some respects concerning ordination.

While he did see the necesity for valid (successive) ordination in order to rightly administer the sacraments (the very reason for his ordaining for America!), he largely rejected a "sacradotal" understanding of the priesthood as being Romanish.

This is seen in his translation of the Greek presbuteros (presbyter)as the English "elder" rather than the abreviated "priest." This is a matter of valid translation (i.e., presbyter/elder/priest refer to the same biblical word), but it is a reaction against "Romish" abuses (in JW's mind) that was making in roads into parts of the Church of England.

This is also seen in his changing the words of absolution in the BCP to the Collect for the 23th SUn. after Trinity, and otherwise having the elder identify "with" the congregation.

What is rejected by these changes is not a rejection of Anglicanism, but of a stream within Anglicanism.

Wesley retained the three orders, though the last (the episkopoi; traditionaly translated "bishop," but literally "overseer" or, Wesley's term, "superintendent") was seen in the NT as being interchangable with "elder." It was therfore seen as a role/office rather than a "third order."

For Wesley, deacons were transitional to elders, as in Anglicanim. That, I believe is still the case in the three largest African-Methodist denominations (AME, AMEZ & CME). It was the case in the UMC, but has changed to permanent (not transitional) deacons and elders. I do not believe that any of the Wesleyan-holiness churches have transitional deacons (Nazarenes have permanent, but not transitional deacons).

Outside of the U.S., the British Methodists do not have bishops/general superintendents at all, and this has been a part of their talks with the Church of the England.

More to say, later.

Todd+

Todd Stepp said...

Thomas,

Concerning Wesley's terminology change from bishop to superintendent:

It seems clear, from Charles Wesley's (and others') response, and from the position within the ordinal, and from Wesley's comments on "bishops" that Wesley was intending that "superintendnet" was the biblical equivalent to "bishop." In Charles' terminology, John was "making bishops."

So, why the change in term (or more acurately, why the change in the English translation of epislopoi)?

Different people have different views (including, in my opinion, the inacurate view that he really wasn't making bishops). There are a couple of things to consider, though.

First, He could have thought that to use the term "bishop" within the Anglican setting could be even more politically harmful than the ordinations, themselves. That is, while Wesley does understand himself to be as much a "scripturral episcopos" as any man in England or in Europe, he does not claim to be an Anglican bishop. In fact, other than this quote, he refuses the title "bishop," and is concerned with the Coke & Asbury switch the term back from superintendent to bishop.

He does not claim the same ecclesial authority as the Agnlican bishops, but he claims the same scriptural authority as God's providence had made him an episcopos/bishop/superintendent to the Methodists.

His justifications for ordaning include his belief that the presbyter and episcopos were "essentially" the same order; God's providence hade made him superintendent (etc.) for the Methodists; the Church of England refused to act in the emergency situation to supply ministers/sacraments for those in America; and the case of two centuries in Alexandria where presbyters consecrated bishops (which even Rome recognized as valid).

So, yes, some differences between Wesley, the orders he confered on the Methodists, and the position of Anglicans.

Orders are a part of the issue between various Methodists and various Anglicans. - Methodists (I think, in general) would be okay with the claim that their orders are "irregular," but not that they are "invalid."

Todd+

Todd Stepp said...

Thomas,

One more response.

Concerning the movement for unity: If the Methodist/Wesleyan denominationis would ever unite (and right now, we are just talking about WEsleyan-holiness denominations, not all of Methodism), in my mind, the next place to go is Anglicanism.

Todd+

Thomas said...

Fascinating...
Thank you both for the answers.

It's very interesting to get a perspective from people who know and study this kind of thing, especially from a different faith tradition. Anglicanism has interested me lately (obviously with the Anglican Ordinariate being instituted and the beatification of Cardinal Newman it has been a hotter topic among Catholics the past year or two). But in general the idea of ecumenism and dialogue between churches has always been fascinating to me.

Any other questions I might have on this topic would no doubt take us so far off the main point of the original post that I think I'll just leave it where it stands. Thank you again...

Todd Stepp said...

Thank you, Thomas, for adding so much to the conversation!

Your comments and questions are always welcome!

Todd+

Todd Stepp said...

BTW, Thomas (and anyone else interested), you may already know, but I only just discovered that the new portal for news of the Ordinariate in the UK is located at http://ordinariateportal.wordpress.com