Olga and I were travelling recently to see my Mother in Newark, Nottinghamshire. We were caught up in a traffic queue in Mill Street, Old Basford, which is a suburb of Nottingham. There alongside us was a late Victorian Methodist Church with its numerous foundation stones inscribed with the names of what must have been two important Methodist families. Far from having numerous foundation stones, the then new Wood End Methodist Church has just one. The symbolism at the time was not lost on me. The one foundation is nothing other than Jesus Christ, by whom we are saved, but more importantly by whom we are recruited into the Mission of God.
The photograph of that event is in a scrapbook, reminding me of that day 25 years ago. I still had dark hair and was somewhat slimmer. There was your minister Rev. Alan Merchant of whom I have many fond memories and Rev. Tony Kinch, who I gather is still ministering in Wolverhampton and above all Rev. Nigel Gilson, then Chairman of the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District. Nigel was the minister at Victoria Street Methodist Church in Newark and he and his family lived in Milner Street, Newark, where I grew up. I was then only a teenager.
If I am allowed I would like to mention the path we trod together in Wednesfield, Methodists and Anglicans alike, a path to Unity. Since that time Anglicans & Methodists have had hopes and disappointments. I was privileged to share with Dr. John Taylor in the Joint talks on Anglican-Methodist Unity, which produced the Covenant, which I gather is somewhat stalled. The differences between us are so small and the agreements so broad that making visible the Unity which God has given us, should not be beyond our capabilities and will.
In asking me to lay your foundation stone you made a public statement about the relationships between Anglicans and Methodists, that we are one in Christ. Wednesfield was the first place I had lived in, in which the relationship between and Anglicans and Methodists was so relaxed, friendly and positive. May your celebrations bring back happy memories. May your celebrations encourage you in making the Unity, which God has given us, visible. May God's grace encourage you in the mission we share, which is so much effective when we combine our resources.
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