Full Connexion

This was a status granted in the eighteenth century to the itinerant preachers associated with John Wesley after a period on trial. He regarded them as a supplementary lay ministry, but with no right to administer the Lord's Supper. In 1795 the Plan of Pacification allowed a circuit to ask Conference to grant this right to its preachers in full connexion, and this led to the belief that such preachers were virtually ordained. The 1836 Wesleyan Conference adopted the procedure of reception into full connexion a few hours before ordination by the laying on of hands. Exceptional arrangements were made for those going overseas or serving as chaplains to the Forces. The New Connexion and Bible Christians retained the practice of the Conference receiving preachers into full connexion, as did the United Methodists in 1907. The United Methodist Free Churches preferred the language of 'in union with the Association'. The Primitive Methodists, however, received and stationed preachers at the District Meeting without employing the language of 'full connexion'.

Since 1932 ministers who complete their probationary period are received by a standing vote of Conference into full connexion with the Conference earlier on the day of their ordination. Ministers transferring from other Churches who are already ordained and those previously in full connexion who are being reinstated are similarly received. In 1998 all members of the MethodistDiaconal Order were also received into full connexion, and since then diaconal probationers have been received prior to their ordination in the same way as ministers/presbyters. Thus, while ordination makes a person a presbyter or deacon in the Church of God, full connexion confers the authority and defines the responsibilities of the presbyter or deacon in relation to the Methodist Church.

  • A.R. George in History of the Methodist Church in Great Britain 2 (1978) p.143