Well, that's the British Methodist Conference done for another year! Despite the thinness of the Agenda - there was more meat in the Queen's Speech - we still managed to keep going until Thursday lunchtime. Like the proverbial curate's egg, it was good in parts ....
The election of Bala Gnanapragasam and Michaela Youngson to the leadership of our Church during the final stages of Brexit was prophetic. That we should be led by a person who came to this country, facing down prejudice and racism, to raise a family, forge a successful career and give so freely in public service is a parable to this nation.
The progress -albeit painfully slow - in dealing with historic abuse is something to be noted rather than celebrated. We continue to try to create safer places where survivors can find a home and a voice, whilst past perpetrators are not turned away. Becoming the Beloved Community involves hard work and continuing sacrifice.
If you listened carefully at this year's Conference, there was the distinctive noise of a can being kicked down the road. We continue to describe well the problems we face, the response seems to the same as the famous quote from Edward VIII as Prince of Wales visiting a colliery in 1936: something should be done! Whether it is the development of a proper strategy for mission at a local level, the release of funds to support that mission, a clear response to our decline, or the removal of uncertainty brought by the training review, the problem was clearly, even eloquently, described. Then there was silence .... Already work deemed difficult, such as bishops or same-sex marriage, has been pushed to the Conference of 2018 (and may be kicked further down the road).
We are, and are becoming a Church incapable of making difficult decisions before it is too late. That is often blamed on bad leaders but I want to suggest that even good leaders cannot lead if people refuse to follow. So, fellow Methodists, ask yourself these questions:
1. What kind of leaders do we need to help us face the mess we are in and begin to lead us out?
2. What kind of followers do we need to be that allows others to lead with integrity and authority?