Tag Archives: Covenant

An Island Parish Finally Talks to the Methodists


If I were part of the Methodist Church on the Isles of Scilly, I’m sure I’d be decidedly annoyed with Nigel Farrell and the team behind An Island Parish. Up to now, the fact that there is a thriving Methodist Church on the islands, has been largely ignored by the programme. As I commented at the end of the first series Rev David Easton appeared in the background but isn’t acknowledged, and in the first episode of the second series appears only once making a joke in a Church service. After that, I nearly fell off my chair this week when he appeared in the programme more than Rev Guy – indeed you realised that some of the footage of Rev Guy has been filmed in the Methodist Chapel, and also how close the two church buildings are – if you look at the picture you can see the Anglican Church in the background, barely two minutes walk up the street!

I have to say though, that it has taken rather a tragedy to get some more balanced coverage. Earlier in the series the mechanic on the local lifeboat tragically died of a heart attack, deeply affecting the community. When it happened, Nigel Farrell interviewed Rev Guy, but then the commentary highlighted that it wasn’t Rev Guy that did the funeral. The family involved asked Rev David to do the service instead. To be rather brutal about it, the programme had to talk to the Methodists in order to actually get a continuation to that story. So as a result, this week we had a lot of discussion with Rev David, as the daughter of the family was brought to baptism, again in the Methodist Church.

He didn’t just appear without introduction, you had some shots in his Manse, and some establishing footage of him preparing for his role in the island panto. The commentary even mentioned the Anglican/Methodist Covenant that was signed nationally in 2003, and highlighted that when Rev Guy is absent, his congregation holds a joint service with the Methodists down the street. If all of this has been happening, it seems increasingly odd that he hasn’t featured more sooner.

Perhaps the An Island Parish team have wanted to simplify things – but if they have, I do think that they have simplified things rather too much by effectively sidelining the Methodist Church. Maybe the local superintendent and the local circuit didn’t provide support in the same way as the Diocese of Truro has done (only the Diocese is on this weeks credits). However, it is pretty apparent that Rev Guy and Rev David work quite closely together – another part of the programme shows them jointly leading a Remembrance Service – surely it would be a more accurate representation of life in the parish to show the two denominations working together rather than what has been done up to now. We’ll have to see whether this continues in the weeks to come.

Which Way Will It Go?

Before the fall out from the convention has even settled, it looks like the election of a new Bishop of Newark, a post previously held by John Shelby Spong, is going to cause more arguments, as one of the four candidates is gay. The diocese have said that the committee deliberately avoided discriminating against candidates on the grounds of sexual orientation. Essentially, they have handed the decision to the members of the congregations in the Newark diocese, and as with the recent election in California it will be their choice of Bishop that will ultimately trigger, or avoid more arguments.

In the UK, Ruth Gledhill’s article in the Times yesterday that assumed that any Anglican covenant would be defined in terms of the conservative position has produced a swift response from Colin Slee, pointing out firstly that no covenant has been defined, and also floating the question as to whether many congregations in the wider Church of England, such as his own in Southwark, would sign up to it either. This offers the possibility that the Church of England as a whole may find itself theologically closer to the liberal provinces that include Scotland and New Zealand as well as the US and Canadian churches than the conservative provinces in Africa and Asia, and drafting a much more liberal covenant than the conservative churches could stomach. This of course raises the possibility that ultimately it may be these conservative provinces that will find themselves excluded, rather than the liberal wing.