Two years ago, in the light of the first online Methodist Conference I wrote some reflections under the title of INVESTMENT. We were just beginning to be confronted with the reality of Covid19 and its massive effects on all aspects of life. The agenda in 2020 was dominated by talk of the climate emergency, a strategy for church growth and diminishing resources all round.
Two years on, writing in a week when temperatures in the UK exceeded 40°C, the climate emergency seems much more real with the responses from church and government lacking much of a sense of urgency. The transition to carbon zero will not be easy or pain-free, but it cannot be put on hold or in
reverse to deal with temporary crises.
Back in 2020, I used the metaphor of a sinking ship to describe what was going on in the Church. I wonder now if it is also applicable to the political responses we are currently seeing in the UK and worldwide. Too many of our leadership are still intent on a ‘bail-out’ strategy built on the false assumption that the structure of the ship is not fatally compromised and plugging the holes will restore buoyancy. They are still wedded to the model of global capitalism that created the crisis in the first place, hoping beyond hope that it will rescue us in the end. Those who continue to advocate for resources to be pumped into an economic system built on inequality and massive consumption are then shocked when it punishes the poorest and damages the planet.
The alternative response is much less palatable: an admission that the ship is beyond rescue and abandoning it is the only option. The need for a radical departure from business as usual is increasingly plain to see.
Both responses require such a huge investment of energy and money that the time is past when we can hedge our bets. One strategy comes at the expense of the other. In both church and state, I am yet to see a serious analysis of the state of ‘sea-worthiness’ of the current models.
This brings me to my own ‘portfolio of investment’, as it were. In 2020, I was celebrating twenty years of ordained ministry. I reflected on the incredible opportunities and experiences I had been given, as well the things that had knocked me off course and depleted my energy reserves too much too often. I didn't know then that I would be diagnosed with ADHD and that the diagnosis would cause me to rethink the whole of my life. Having vowed to step back from Conference, I was then appointed to a role that brings membership of Conference and Council with it!
I am still working at stepping back from some commitments to give more time and focus to others and spending a little longer assessing cost and benefit before embarking on new things. I am trying to ask for more help and listen to my own needs a bit more, in order to be more effective for others.
My hopes back then were to spend more time thinking and researching and writing and speaking about the things that set my heart ablaze - social transformation, LGBTQ+ rights, the mission of God in the world, education, social justice, politics and democracy, reconciliation and peacebuilding, scriptural preaching, discernment and vocation, building community to name a few!
I still believe that my calling is to the edge rather than the centre, and so I have prioritised carving out places from which to minister effectively.
My heart burns within me for the gospel of transformative love that first breathed life into Wesleyanism. I pray for the strength to guard that holy fire and stir up those gifts within me to make a real difference. Where I want my heart to be, there I am putting my treasure.