The grace of God in the churches

Just one more Michael Ramsey reference, as I pray from the US for the conversations on Mission and Ministry in Covenant. The quotation copied below is in the context of the “Service of Reconciliation” ideas of the 1960s and 1970s, which of course are NOT on the table in the present Anglican/Methodist conversations.

But in this quotation from Owen Chadwick’s biography, Ramsey clearly states his understanding of the grace of Methodist orders. He values immensely his own episcopal order, and the episcopal order in his Church, as I do, as all Episcopalians should. And he honours the Methodist ministry and is “perfectly certain” that Methodist ministers are “not just lay [people]”. For the rest he is glad to trust to the knowledge and love of God as being greater than his own.

Michael Ramsey, to his Diocesan Conference in Canterbury, October 1968, quoted in Owen Chadwick, “Michael Ramsey: a Life”, p.339.

Not just laymen

I agree with Ramsey in this. This for me is the starting point from which “Mission and Ministry in Covenant” would move us on; from which the Methodist people, if they chose, would then incorporate episcopacy into their life as a church. It is a very different starting point from the one misdescribed as “lay presidency”.

I copy this extract because I hope it will help friends and colleagues who are worried about this.

I hope that Synod will approve the suggestions in Mission and Ministry in Covenant, which will simply pave the way for future debate and future decision. I do so as a confident and settled Anglican who seeks the unity of the churches. I am proud and glad to have advocated strongly for the ordination of women since I myself was ordained in 1979, and I rejoice to see women now as priests and bishops in our Church. I greatly treasure the wonderful gifts of God to our Church in episcopal order and continuity. But I do not believe that this treasuring should lead me to fear any loss. For me the grace of God in the churches can indeed be lost, if the churches cease to worship God, to speak of Jesus and to love as Jesus loved. I cannot see any risk of that in the proposals currently before the Synod.

Prayers and love as ever from New York to all.