We are prepared to go out of existence not because we are declining or failing in mission, but for the sake of mission.
Rev David Gamble, Methodist Conference President (third from right). Addressing the Church of England’s General Synod, February 11, 2010.
Once a world changing movement under John Wesley, the Methodist church has seen its membership shrink to just 265,000.
Dave Price comments:
Winston Churchill said after the successful evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940 that, Wars are not won by evacuations. In other words, defensive measures may be necessary, but, as every chess player knows, attack is the best form of defence. A merger of the Methodist Church with the Anglicans may be necessary, but it is a defensive measure. At face value, it doesn't sound as if it is going to win the war.
Despite assurances to the contrary, this proposed merger is not driven by a commitment to mission or unity. Overwhelmingly mergers are driven by a) institutional decline, and b) lack of clarity and commitment to the movement's founding cause and core beliefs. They do nothing to arrest mainline decline.
The Methodists of Britain have gone down the same path as every other mainline Protestant denomination of the last fifty years. The sad reality is that attempts at union will actually speed up their decline. There is no other historical pattern.