In our recent discussion about the sacramental authority of licensed local pastors, Tony Mitchell brought up one of the touted drawbacks of licensed local pastors serving the sacraments: that this practice is foreign to the Episcopal Church USA, and therefore prevents a full merger between the UMC and the ECUSA. Tony writes:
The issue of whether or not local pastors can offer communion is not one of theology but rather one of merger. My reading of the report on the ordained ministry (which I wrote about in "The Future of the Methodist Church")is that the church wants only elders to be able to "do" the sacraments so that merger talks with the Episcopal church may proceed.
Well, I suppose. But despite the historical roots of the UMC and ECUSA and how good it is to build Christian unity whenever possible, I'm not sure that this is a profitable direction for the Kingdom. I mean, the ECUSA is hemorrhaging in membership (even boasting of it), undergoing schism, is separated from the Anglican Communion, and has violated all of Christian history and practice by electing a homosexual bishop. Do we want to make major changes in our polity to satisfy our brothers and sisters in the ECUSA?
Why would we want to chain ourselves to a ship that may not make it back into port?
Surely revival should be a far more critical concern for both the UMC and the ECUSA than re-arranging our deck chairs.