Thursday, 4 August 2011

Methodist Minister in Charge of a Church of England / Methodist LEP

17th-century pulpit in Church of St Lawrence, ...Image via Wikipedia
This post is a question and its answer.  The question was asked by an ecumenical officer and the answer comes from the Church of England.  Note this applies where the LEP is the only Church in the Parish.  Where there is another church, the incumbent there can carry out those duties the Church of England is legally obliged to provide.  I thought there was a lot of useful information in this exchange.  I have made sure it is anonymous and tidied up some of the grammar.


Is there standard guidance about what a Methodist minister cannot do in terms of Canon law and how those functions are then provided, where a Methodist Minister has sole pastoral charge of a Church of England / Methodist Local Ecumenical Partnership? It would be helpful to know if there are some questions it's best not to ask.  Issues that came to mind when we met were around sacramental matters such as Anglican parishioners not members of the LEP wanting an Anglican wedding, who leads worship if the church wants an occasional Anglican rite such as Book of Common Prayer Communion etc.


A Methodist Minister can be authorised by the bishop under Canon B 44 (4) as follows:

4.  (1) A bishop who has given his agreement to participation in a local ecu­menical project under the foregoing provisions of this Canon may by an instrument in writing made after consultation with the parochial church council of each parish or part of a parish in the area of the project,

(a)  make special provision as to the ministry in that area of clerks in Holy Orders, deaconesses, lay workers and readers beneficed in or licensed to any parish wholly or partly in that area;
(b) exercise in relation to that area his powers under Canon B 14A, Canon B 40 and Canon B 43;
(This means among other things authorise ministers of Churches other than the Church of England to preach, lead worship etc)
(c)  authorise ministers of any other participating Church with the good­will of the persons concerned to baptise in a place of worship of the Church of England in that area in accordance with a rite authorised by any participating Church;
(d) authorise a priest of the Church of England to preside in that area at a service of Holy Communion in accordance with a rite authorised by any other participating Church;
(e)  make provision for the holding in that area of joint services with any other participating  Church, including services of baptism and confir­mation;
(f)   authorise the holding, in a place of worship of the Church of England in that area, of services of Holy Communion presided over by a minis­ter of any other participating Church.

Therefore, a Methodist Minister can preside at the Eucharist, baptise, preach and generally lead worship, and so can exercise a pastoral, teaching and sacramental ministry in the area of the LEP. However, the authorisation does not extend to conducting weddings according to the rites of the Church of England (this is due to legal considerations in the Marriage Act).

The Methodist Minister will be the principal minister of the LEP - and the sole stipendiary minister. However, the rules of the Church of England are such that a Church of England Priest will also need to be licensed to the CofE parish which participates in the LEP. This can be done in a number of ways: a neighbouring incumbent, for example, the Area Dean, or a self supporting minister may be licensed to the parish as the incumbent. The role of such a person would be to offer Church of England Ministry (eg Weddings) to those who request it, and to perform such other functions required by the Canons and Regulations of the Church of England in the parish.

The leaflet, Authorisation, sets out the various arrangements possible for the provision of ministry in an LEP, from the CofE's point of view, and the leaflet, Things you wish they'd told you, gives information for a minister who is appointed to be sole minister in an LEP.  These two papers are a bit out of date but it seems they are being revised and new versions should be available soon.  If you're going to use them, I suggest you contact the Council for Christian Unity and ask for up to date copies.
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