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In this post, I'll fill in a few more details about Methodist Bishops.
A Methodist House of Bishops
Most Anglican Dioceses have more than one Bishop. My proposal assumes the Methodist Connexion would be treated as a single Diocese. There are fewer than 300 000 members and as a Diocese has oversight of all who live within its boundaries, this is small compared with most Dioceses.
Usually, there is a Bishop and then several other Sufragen Bishops who cover geographical areas, under the authority of the Diocesan Bishop.
The way I see it is the current President would be the equivalent of a Diocesan Bishop and several past Presidents would act as Sufragens. Consecration as a bishop is for life and so after a time, they would cease to be active but could be on call so that numbers can be kept manageable.
The Joint Implementation Commission suggests there might also be a House of Vice-Presidents. Clearly, it has long been Methodist practice for ordained and lay to collaborate at all levels of the church and this would be one way to approach it.
What would the Bishops do?
The Methodist Church would not need to copy the Church of England and thought would need to be given to how the work might be split between them. Their first priority would be to keep in touch with the Methodist people. The President and vice-President do this by visiting most Districts during the Presidential year. So, the current and recent Presidents would have a good overview of the Connexion and could also commission reports and research through the Connexional Team.
The work could be split between them in several ways. Geographical would be one possibility. It might be possible to have Bishops for Wales and Scotland for example. Or the work might be split around areas of expertise, eg mission, world church, formation.
Duration of Service
This might be an opportunity to consider extending the period of the President from 1 year to 3. I would limit it to 3, with the possibility of one extension to a total of 6 years. This means Conference would vote every 3 years. A President who has served one term can stand again, so if their work is popular, they can serve one further term.
Once the numbers in the House of Bishops were decided, the initial consecration would be to that number of Presidents. So if there are to be 6, the current President and the 5 most recent past Presidents would be consecrated. Thereafter, new Presidents would be consecrated and the longest serving retire from the House of Bishops.
I suspect the vice-President would continue to serve for one year. It's difficult enough for lay people to step outside their normal life for one year and three might restrict the number of candidates too much.
Relationship with the Anglican Churches
The obvious approach would be to combine the Houses of Bishops, so there would be a single House of Bishops for both churches. This way we would ensure interchangeability of ministry but ensure the churches were independent although closely collaborating.
The advantage of a Methodist Bishop in Wales and Scotland, would mean they could join the House of Bishops (or equivalent) in the Church in Wales and Episcopalian Church.
Having said all that the aim would be to see these Houses of Bishops as joint Houses, not a part of the Anglican Communion with added Methodists.
This is not a serious proposal. It would be presumptuous to make a suggestion when many more knowledgeable people are debating these issues. I am aware of several weaknesses in my proposal and so would not wish to see it implemented in its current state.
My reason for describing this is to open the debate. My challenge to anyone who reads this and cares for the Methodist Church, is if not this then what? I know comments are rare on this blog and so to expect a debate would be a waste of time. But I do know that it would be brilliant to find a platform where Methodists could debate about the future of their church. I have little confidence the current leadership are capable of finding a way forward on their own.