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Journal 2009 - Wesley Historical Society

Go to Wesley Historical Society Publications


48 pages

Spiritual Journey. (Phil Taylor)

Travelling with Methodists (and others) on the Good Ship Oikoumene: Reflections from an (Ecumenical) Ancient Mariner.
(Rev. Dr Allan K. Davidson)

Rescuing From Obscurity:
A Life of the Reverend John Skevington 1815-1845.
(Gary A.Clover)

Book Review:
Stuart, James, The John Wesley Code-Finding a Faith that Matters, reviewed by Norman E. Brookes.

Book Review:
Lenton, John, John Wesley's Preachers: A Social and Statistical Analysis of the British and Irish Preachers who entered the Methodist Itinerancy before 1791, reviewed by Terry Wall.


During this year the Anglican and Methodist Churches entered into a covenant relationship. The signing of the covenant by leaders of our two churches took place on Wesley Day, 24th May 2009 at Lotofale'ia Tongan Methodist Church and Te Karaiti Te Pou Herenga Waka, the Anglican Maori Church, Mangere.

The celebration at Mangere was the culmination of six years of conversations between the two Churches and represented a willingness to look to a shared future. As the ecumenical movement has required, each Church had looked at the life of the other and discovered there the apostolic faith. Each Church recognises the ministry of the other Church as being a real ministry of Word and Sacraments. Each Church accepts that the other exercises a ministry ofepiskope and welcomes the baptised members of the other Church to receive the Eucharist.

In the language of ecumenical theology, both Churches are not out of communion, but share a real but incomplete communion. The challenge now is to find ways to give institutional expression to the degree of communion that we enjoy at this stage of our journey. The signing of the covenant commits the two Churches to further dialogue on outstanding theological and ecclesiological issues, and encourages collaboration in joint worship and witness, service and mission.

The President of the Wesley Historical Society, Helen Laurenson, is a member of the Anglican Historical Society. It is to be hoped that there will be opportunities to further develop the relationship between our Churches in the field of historical enquiry.

In April a Selwyn Symposium was held at the College of St John the Evangelist to mark the Bicentenary of the births of Sarah and George Selwyn. The editor was privileged to be among the participants. Papers, probing the contribution of the Selwyns, were of a high standard and will be published at a later date.

The 2009 Conference held in Christchurch marked the fiftieth anniversary of the first ordination of a woman in mainline churches in New Zealand. The Rev. Dr Phyllis Guthardt was honoured at a session of Conference. In the context of a liturgy led by ordained women. Bishop Victoria Matthews and Phyllis herself spoke of their experience and shared insights. It was one of the inspiring sessions of the Conference.

This Journal touches the ecumenical movement at a number of points. Phil Taylor's fascinating spiritual journey indicates the way in which he was influenced by streams other than Methodism. Allan Davidson's contribution reflects on his friendships and contacts with Methodists and Methodism throughout the duration of his ministry and vocation, teaching Church History. Gary Clover shows how John Skevington was sent to South Taranaki at least in part to "forestall the influence of 'Popery' and 'Puseyism'"!

Dr James Stuart's book The John Wesley Code was published toward the end of 2008. It has been well received and represents decades of Jim's conversation with John Wesley. We are pleased to carry a review of this important work by Norman Brookes, a loyal member of the Society. Also reviewed is John Lenton's John Wesley s Preachers published in Britain in 2009 by Paternoster.

The Society is currently in the middle of a rich seam of publications. This year saw the launch at Conference of Jim Stuart's Making Connexions Down Under - reflections of a United Methodist in Aotearoa New Zealand. Edited by Eric Laurenson, the book brings together a number of Jim's addresses and articles of an historical, theological and autobiographical nature. The year 2010 will see the publication of the eagerly awaited history of Trinity College by the Rev. Dr Susan Thompson.

As this Journal was being prepared for the printer, we heard that Allan Davidson had been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Allan has been a long time member of the Society and has made an outstanding contribution to the study of Church History in this land. We warmly congratulate him on being recognised in this way.

- Terry Wall