Joining Together

In the year 2010, even as we celebrate the anniversary of the Edinburgh Conference and one hundred years of ecumenically-minded mission activity, it needs to be noted that it becomes more and more difficult to sustain, let alone develop, ecumenical working.

Michael King, World Church Relationships

This seems to be true at national level with organisations such as Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI); as well as trying to sustain, let alone develop, international bodies such as World Council of Churches (WCC). Too often, as financial belts tighten, organisations seem to view working with others as non-essential and therefore able to be dispensed with; whereas a more visionary approach may be to view such straitened circumstances as a real opportunity for closer co-operation.

It is therefore to be welcomed that MWM has tried to involve others in the annual World Mission Conference; as well as showing itself open to someone not a Methodist member becoming its President. I would also want to acknowledge how important is has been over the last couple of decades for the Methodist Church in Britain(MCB) to work jointly with our Anglican brothers and sisters in USPG. The jointly-funded Selly Oak Centre for Mission Studies in Birmingham has been hugely successful in many ways; joint co-operation in training for both long-term and short-term mission personnel programmes has been mutually beneficial; learning in the ‘global classroom’ of the MA programme has been enriched; the sharing of ideas amongst staff of the different organisations has been stimulating, and the openness of discussion always appreciated. We constantly need this bigger picture in order to begin to understand what God’s view might be.

Seeking that global perspective is much of what the All Partners Consultation in London later in June is about. Most of our Partner Churches will be represented, about one hundred overseas reps in all, meeting with reps from British Districts, Connexional Team staff and MCB leaders; to “Re-imagine Future Mission Together”, and effectively set an agenda for mission both in UK and around the world for the next five to ten years. This promises to be an exciting, challenging and confidence-building few days, hopefully as rewarding as the last time we met together at Llandudno in 2003. How should we all be sharing resources – time, personnel, expertise, money, buildings – in line with God’s will and mission? So in preparation for the APC in 2010 three questions have been asked of all participants:

What are the biblical themes that shape your approach to mission in the 21st Century?

How is the Good News impacting on finance, politics and development where you are?

Where do you think the Church will be in five to ten years’ time?

A summary of the answers has been prepared and sent back to participants so that we can all hit the ground running when we meet. It is an example of the importance that MCB places on listening to our Partners, if we are to share the vision of what God’s kingdom could be throughout this amazing planet. I hope that at next year’s Swanwick World Mission Conference there can be a full report of what was discussed at the APC and how we move forward together.

On your behalf World Church Relationships staff, along with others in the MCB Connexional Team, remain committed to the vision of working with others, as well as developing our understanding of partnership with all those who share our aims. It’s a constantly changing scene, both internally concerning staff roles in the Connexional Team, as well as with contracting and expanding partners worldwide, and it is never dull! Talking of which, let me close by paying tribute to all the exciting work in Caribbean Methodism over the last 250 years – cause for great celebrations recently.

‘God is working His purpose out’, of that we can be sure, but we need to discern continually where God wants us to join in.

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