Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wine and Grape Juice

Wine AND grape juice! Two chalices, two stations! A historic prayer book's time-honored rhythms heard again! And free pizza (and good pizza, as I will be in charge of buying it...)

These are but some of the delights which await you at the  interim Shared Eucharist on March 3 at 5:30 pm between the Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church under the TEC-UMC Common Guidelines for Interim Eucharist Sharing. These are exciting times for Anglican-Methodist cooperation worldwide, as recently in Ireland several Methodist consecrators joined in Canon Kenneth Kearon's consecration as Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe in the Church of Ireland. 
A team of clergy and laity from both denominations in the New York area has been attempting to walk along the same paths. and the service is the fruition of this. United Methodist New York Annual Conference Resident Bishop Jane Allen Middleton will preside, while Bishop Stacy F. Sauls, the Chief Operating Officer of the national Episcopal Church, will preach. Informal fellowship and free pizza will follow. The John Street parish started out as a prayer circle of Methodists who would also attend formal services at Trinity Church. After American independence, and the consequent formal break between Methodists and Episcopalians, these ties were severed; this service is a small step in reconnecting them. March 3 has been chosen as being the day the Episcopal Church celebrates the lives of John and Charles Wesley on the Calendar of Saints.

As per the requirements of the shared Eucharist agreement, both wine and grape juice will be available. The liturgy used will be that of the 1662 Prayer Book, the last prayer service the two churches had in common. I went to a church in Canberra last summer that used this service and I found it both humbling, and, to use a Methodist word, sanctifying. 

I have been working on this for a number of years and am thrilled to finally see it bear fruit. Working with me have been Bill Parnell, the Episcopal Diocese of New York's Archdeacon for Mission; Joe Campo, the chair of the Diocesan Commission on Ecumenical and Intereligious Relations, and Bob Walker, assistant to the UMC New York Annual Conference bishop. We will also have lots of support from General Theological Seminary whose Dean and President has been a strong back rod the event. 

Why is this important to me? 1)  it is something my crutch has asked me to do and entrusted me with the responsibility for, and I am honored and humbled by this trust 2) As someone whose ancestors came from virtually every religious background conceivable, there is a natural affinity on my part for religious traditions coning together 3) as a literature professor, and especially as someone who does scholarship and teaches courses in the long eighteenth and long nineteenth centuries, it often seems to me that we act as if there wasp n egret age of religious poetry in English-the seventeenth century, with Herbert, Milton, Vaughan, Crashaw, Edward Taylor, and so on -and another--the nineteenth century, with the later Wordsworth, Coleridge,  and Oxford Movement, followed by Christina Rossetti and Emily Dickinson. We forgot the incredible body of Methodist hymnody and sermons that provides a catalyzing link between them and rebuts idea sod the rationalism and secularism of the long eighteenth century.4) Because an ongoing unity of the Church brings us all closer to God. 

So, guys, my heart is in this on all levels and I would really be thrilled if you could come. 

The John Street Church is in downtown Manhattan, south of City Hall, accessible from he Fulton St. stations on the A, C, 2, 3, 4, and 5 trains. 

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