Well actually the second answer.
Q1b How should Methodism relate to other denominations? Answer by citing and reflecting upon your local Church's experience of ecumenical cooperation (400-500 words approx.)
I think that throughout its entire structure Methodism should be trying to co-operate with, work alongside and relate with love and understanding to other denominations. I believe this can be done without forfeiting Methodist identity or compromising what we believe to be important, and know deep within me that each one of us must prepare to be challenged or indeed changed by other people’s perspectives.
I believe Connexion should keep supporting ventures such as Hope 08 and Fresh Expressions and encouraging ecumenism, continuing to train students ecumenically can do this. My Foundation Training has in part been done at an Anglican college and I think that both the Foundation Trainees and the Anglican ordinands have been enriched by this experience. Many false ideas about each other’s denominations have been explored and the way has been paved for future ecumenical co-operation.
At local church level ecumenical co-operation often depends on circumstances such as the area the church is in and the people who are leading it. It is important that ecumenism in all communities is encouraged locally, at circuit, district and at connexion.
My Own Experience.
I live in Chyngton, a housing estate on the outskirts of Seaford. One Anglican and one Methodist church serve Chyngton and the relationship between them shows ecumenical co-operation working near its best.
Why so good?
After careful reflection I think the co-operation between churches on Chyngton estate is good because;
1. It takes place in all levels of the church.
2. There is recognition, that God has sent us to serve one community.
3. There is a good use of shared resources.
I would like to elaborate further on each point.
Co-operation on all levels.
Each church has a member on the other one’s church council; this keeps everyone well informed and able to demonstrate support. Practically this makes sure that details are taken care of, such as checking the Christmas Fairs don’t clash.
Due to the hard work of previous and present clergy, we hold joint services and Alpha courses, have ecumenical house-groups – for me this has meant I have had another church community following and praying about my current journey, which has led to a greater knowledge of Methodism especially confirmation, local preachers training and candidating.
We also hold an annual holiday club together and termly follow up sessions.
Shared resources is about more than borrowing tables
Our two churches have their own strengths and ecumenical co-operation needs to recognise that we will not always be the best at everything. Each church will lead and support. Between us we have;
Talented songwriters and musicians, worship leaders, preachers, cooks tea makers and administrators. People who are gifted at working with children, teenagers, and old people. Counsellors, pastoral carers and a bereavement counsellor. First aid and food hygiene trainers, Health and Safety specialists and much more.
To me it makes perfect sense for these resources to be shared as two churches move forward together to share God’s kingdom with our small corner of the world, and it makes perfect sense for Methodism to embrace this sharing and co-operation in every corner of the world.