16 September 2003
Anglicans and Methodists in London tear up the past
Historic Service brings together the ancient City parish of St Giles Cripplegate with Wesley's Chapel
"Methodists exhibit infidelity, atheism and a tendency to undermine morality" Bishop of Exeter
"The pretending to revelations and gifts of the Holy Ghost is a horrid thing, a very horrid thing" Bishop of Bristol
"Methodist teaching is incompatible with that of the Church of England. Mr John Wesley is guilty of fraud and fanaticism" Bishop of Gloucester
"The Methodists have transgressed the terms of the Acts of both Uniformity and Toleration. They have a busy and schismatic spirit, they are a disservice to religion!" Bishop of London
The statements above are but a sample of the denunciatory and polemical remarks made a wide variety of Anglican bishops and priests in the early years of the Methodist Revival.
The present Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, last night ceremonially tore up "these sentences of exclusion" in a dramatic and prophetic act that expressed faith in a future church that brings previously separated bodies back together again.
The service which followed was a Eucharist presided over by local Methodist District Chairman, the Rev Ermal Kirby. In the course of the service a Covenant, a formal Statement of Intent, was signed by Bishop Richard and Chairman Ermal, and by the Superintendent of Wesley's Chapel, Dr Leslie Griffiths, and Rector of St Giles, the Rev Katharine Rumens. The service began with a procession from Wesley's Chapel at 6.30pm and the bells of St Giles were pealed to welcome those arriving; the tearing up of the past took place outside St Giles at 7pm.
This London service precedes the signing of the National Covenant, binding the Church of England and the Methodist Church of Great Britain together which will take place on November 1 at Westminster Central Hall and Westminster Abbey.