A number of posts recently have been talking about the British Methodist Church, or the Methodist Church of Great Britain. If you’re looking for a lot of information about it, you won’t find it here; I’m not going to do an extensive post about it.
But I was only vaguely aware of the BMC’s existence until recently. As recently as this morning I was still wondering if they are part of the United Methodist Church. (They are not.) I was aware that their logo was different from the UMC logo, but I wasn’t sure how closely we are tied to them, if at all.
I’m aware that there are other “Methodist” bodies out there: the Free Methodist Church, the Evangelical Methodist Church; even the Church of the Nazarene and the Salvation Army are considered “Methodist”.
While the British Methodist Church shares our name, they are not tied to the UMC. What they are, basically, is the church that was founded by the Wesleys in Great Britain. The ties to the church here in the US were severed when the American colonies fought our war of independence from England, which we usually refer to as the American Revolution or the Revolutionary War. John Wesley’s Methodist movement in Great Britain went its own way, apart from its American cousins.
I understand that at times the Methodist movement included Calvinists, out of which came the Calvinistic Methodist churches. However, over the years the British Methodist Church has become almost exclusively Wesleyan. The church in recent years has pursued fellowship with the Church of England, or the Anglican Church. So far they have been unable to come into full communion with the CoE, but recent news shows they are still trying to get the job done.
What kind of relationship can we, evangelicals within the United Methodist Church, have with the British Methodist Church? We don’t have any official relationship, but we should recognize that both our church and theirs share the same founders and the same basic theology. We are definitely cousins, if not siblings.
The British Methodist Church, unlike the UMC, seems to have remained right there in the British Isles. We don’t see branches of the BMC all over the world like we do with the UMC, although that’s not to say they haven’t sent out missionaries, it only means I don’t personally know of their presence outside of Great Britain.
As evangelical United Methodists, I think we should reach out to the British Methodist Church, not to try and get them to join our church (especially since they are trying to become part of the Anglican Communion), but to acknowledge our similar founding and theology, and more than that, to acknowledge that we are brothers and sisters in Christ, that we should work together in the world towards what is good and right.
So I don’t know much about the British Methodist Church, but I’ll bet most United Methodists don’t even know that they exist!