The latest monthly letter from our Minister, Revd David Hookins.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Methodist Conference this year will take place in Nottingham and runs from 28th June to 5th July. You can follow the debates either by watching it as it happens or by reading the daily reports. You can find this information if you follow the links from http://www.methodist.org.uk/about-us/the-methodist-conference/conference-2018/. There are some big issues being discussed and the full Agenda is available in ‘Conference Programme’ on the web address mentioned above.
There is an interim report on ‘Marriage and Relationships’ (27 in the Agenda) about same sex marriages. Also a report on Ministry in the Methodist Church (32 in the Agenda) which is followed by 33 ‘The Mission and Ministry in Covenant Proposals’ which is about mutual recognition of ministry between the Church of England and the Methodist Church. These are ongoing matters and there will probably not be any decisions made at this Conference. As you look at the agenda there may be other aspects of our work in which you are interested, and the overview will give you an idea of what is considered important in the main decision making body of our denomination.
The difficulty of working in a democratic organization is that it develops through debate and decision. Sometimes this is a slow and ponderous process, requiring discussion and feedback from all levels of church life. Sometimes it is unhelpfully influenced by parties and factions who do not represent the feelings of the majority but whose views get unprecedented publicity through clever manipulation of the system. But as Churchill said, ‘Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.’
Though flawed and led by fallible human beings this is our way of being church, and we try to live with God at the centre, recognizing the rich diversity of our opinions and convictions. In other words it is like a very large Church Council!
We are a Connexional church. You will probably have heard people talking about the ‘Connexion’ and may wonder what this means. It is the 18th century spelling of ‘connection’ and it was one of John Wesley’s terms, as he said, ‘Do not allow yourself one thought of separating from your brothers and sisters, whether their opinions agree with yours or not.’ This idea of Connexion makes each member an integral part of the whole, the body of Christ.
Paul puts it like this in the first letter to the Corinthians,
‘The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable… but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it.’
(1 Corinthians 11.21-22 & 25b-26 NRSV)
Your brother in Christ,