07 April 2016

An Address to the Bishop of Rome

Secretary of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Gareth J Powell, with other senior Methodist representatives from around the world, was received by Pope Francis in a private audience at the Vatican last week, on the morning of Thursday 7 April.

The audience was followed by a meeting with members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU).

During the audience the Revd Gareth Powell gave the following presentation to Pope Francis:

Your Holiness,  

We bring you the greetings of the Methodist people.  

It is a particular pleasure to greet you in the year when the English speaking Methodist community, here in Rome, celebrates 60 years of worship and ministry at Ponte Sant' Angelo Church.  

The work of that local church, and the ecumenical commitment of its ministers, has led to important exchanges of insights and wisdom as together we seek to proclaim the love of God.  

The dialogue between Methodists and Catholics continues to enrich our understanding of each other and also of ourselves.  

That the formal dialogue takes place at an international level is vital to our understanding of the breadth of God's creation. That churches in this City and in a whole variety of local communities give expression to our common faith in Christ is vital to our faithful search for deeper unity.  

We are grateful to you for the encouragement you give that together we must strive to be one in faithfulness to Christ and the mission of the Church.

Your Holiness's declaration of a Year of Mercy is one in which the Methodist people take a most particular interest. The proclamation of the mercy of a loving God stands at the heart of all that John Wesley, our founder, stood for. His brother Charles expressed it in one of his hymns;

Prepare the vessel of thy grace, Adorn me with the robes of praise,  And mercy shall be all my song; Mercy for all who know not God, Mercy for all in Jesu's blood, Mercy, that earth and heaven transcends; Love that overwhelms the saints in light ...  [584, Methodist Hymn Book]

We are grateful to your Holiness for offering us fresh understandings of the Mercy of God. Your call to a renewed understanding of God's mercy is one that must surely find expression in our common endeavours and in the way that we live out our mission and shape our ecclesial communities.

In this gift of a copy of the Hymns on the Lord's Supper by John and Charles Wesley you will find something of the Methodist emphasis on the depth of God's loving purposes.  

We pray that together we may find a deeper sense of our shared calling. Through our sharing in the celebration of the victory of love over death may we have a more dynamic and urgent sense of our mission.   In these hymns and in all that we do as followers of the risen Christ, let us raise our voices in the proclamation of our common gospel and the offer of mercy.


Thursday's events followed a dedication of the new Methodist Ecumenical Office of Rome (MEOR) held at Ponte Sant'Angelo.

The MEOR initiative is aimed at promoting greater understanding of the worldwide communion through education programmes and the welcome it can offer from its location just across the Tiber from St Peter's Basilica.

The Revd Dr Tim Macquiban, Director of MEOR, said: "We ask all to hold the ecumenical work of the office in your prayers at this important stage of its development.

"This initiative gives Methodists worldwide the opportunity to contribute in a continuing ecumenical dialogue, promoting ecumenical understanding through the likes of educational programmes."


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(Mrs Gillian Kingston, Vice President of the World Methodist Council, Bishop Paulo Lockmann, President of the World Methodist Council and the Revd Gareth Powell, Secretary of the Methodist Conference in Britain at the Vatican, giving and receiving gifts at the Vatican.)




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