flagging faith

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Include me out!

Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live, a place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive. Built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace; here the love of Christ shall end divisions: All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place. I have to admit to liking this hymn a lot. Here are words we want to believe in, something that we are doing in our local church - warm, comforting, fuzzy even. And that's the problem: inclusion is NOT conformtable. When we think (or sing) about inclusion, there is an assumption that it is an easy thing, where we remain as we are and others come and join us without disturbing the

Beyond the ecumenical ice age

The last three decades of inter-church relations in Britain have often been described as an 'Ecumenical Winter'. After the energy and optimism released by significant milestones in the 20th century and the creation of united Churches and denominations in Canada, South India, Zambia and Australia, the ecumenical endeavour seems to have run aground. With the completion of each round of international dialogues, the readership of their reports seems to become more select and the responses more muted. In Great Britain, the ecumenical weather seems particularly icy. Perhaps that's because we are wedded to a model of ecumenism that most other parts of the world have rejected. Our ecumenical endeavo

You'll never guess ...

Often the opening line of the driver when you climb into his cab. I often find myself drawn into conversation, but also self-censoring in case some of my particular takes on current affairs provokes a strong reaction. Imagine, then, if you will, the kind of mental mine-sweeping going on as I took a taxi home from a recent gathering of European Methodist leaders. Do I let on where I have been or that the main topic of discussion was Brexit and building closer relationships across the continent? Is silent reflection the best policy? The conversation started well as my driver's Irish mother had recently returned to the wonderful west coast of Ireland after a working life in Britain. We shared t

The New Europe?

We've been meeting as the European Methodist Council at a critical time. Inevitably, the topic of some of our sessions - and many of our conversations over lunch and dinner - has been Brexit and the future. I feel that we are now getting to the end of the initial shock, anger and recriminations and, as the fog begins to clear, beginning to think about what happened and what we do now. I think it is important that we try to recognise what happened. There has been a knee-jerk reaction from the 'liberals' that has sounded much less than liberal. 'How dare they!' is not an adequate response. We have been confronted with the stark reality that progress, as we understand it, is not inevitable. How

Community of Methodist & Wesleyan Churches in Europe

On Sunday 10 September 2017, at Wesley's Chapel in London, the leaders of the member Churches of the European Methodist Council officially signed the Agreement of the Community of Methodist and Wesleyan Churches in Europe: In 1993, the "European Methodist Council" was founded with the aim to include all the churches of a Methodist or Wesleyan tradition in Europe, and united churches in Europe that have inherited the Methodist or Wesleyan tradition. The European Methodist Council exists to: Enable member churches to consult together on matters of common concern; Enable a stronger Methodist witness in Europe; Enable member churches to share resources with one another, as the need may arise; En

Sugar-coating the pill

'How many Methodists does it take to change a light-bulb?' 'Change?! Change!?' I'm on my way back from the excellent Changing Church Conference organised by the Susanna Wesley Foundation at the University of Roehampton. As ever, it was a day full of insights from careful and reflective practitioners. What struck me most forcefully, however, was how often we try to pretend - in the Church and elsewhere - that change is easy or painless. Whether it's re-ordering a worship space or closing a building because it has outlived its usefulness, in accentuating the positive benefits of change, we too easily gloss over the hard reality that change is a deeply troubling and sometimes traumatic process.

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