It is with outrage and deep sorrow that we have witnessed the recent brutal killing of George Floyd in the United States.
But outrage and sorrow are not a sufficient response to racism and inequality in society. How to begin a process of change? It starts with self-examination and listening to the people whose lives are affected by discrimination and hate.
This week I received these words from a Methodist living in south London:
“The young people whom I have worked with for over the last 15 years have felt the impact of racism in every institution they have been part of from schools, to university, to various work places, and other than local support and informal church networks they have not found the Methodist Church as a place that speaks up for them.”
As your President, I start by saying I am sorry. Sorry for being silent when we should have spoken out against the everyday injustices that affect BAME communities. I am sorry that, despite our efforts, we have not done enough for those who feel excluded and we need to do better. We know this includes people of all ages from the Windrush generation to the very young. I am sorry when we have not listened carefully enough and not challenged the assumptions of white privilege and bias.
Repentance can lead us to change, to embody a gracious, loving spirit of inclusion and understanding. There is no excuse for racism. All people are made in God’s image. We are one body in Christ Jesus.
I hope we can listen more carefully to the voices of BAME members, especially younger people, who face racism, discrimination and violence on a daily basis. Then our Church must be brave, speak out, speak up and challenge racism wherever we find it, especially when we find it in ourselves.
I have been in contact with the Vice-President who joins me in supporting this statement.
The Rev'd. Dr. Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference
BBC Radio 4 Thought for the Day this morning was by Jane Leach. Rev'd. Dr. Jane Leach is a Methodist Minister and current Principal of Wesley House, Cambridge.
Festival at Home, a free online festival happening from 22 to 25 May hosted by Cliff College, a Christian theological college in Calver, Derbyshire. With worship, seminars, challenges, prayer, teaching and more for all ages, this is the place to be over the bank holiday! Join them online or on YouTube.
PLUS Cliff College are also hosting two virtual open days, on June 2 and 3 – you can find all the information on their website.
With this Friday, 8th May, being the commemoration of VE Day, the Methodist Church has a podcast episode available which features a chat to Methodists from the island of Jersey who were liberated from occupation.
This Sunday, the virtual church choir organised by the National Methodist Choir of Great Britain will be performing a special online event on Easter Day, at 4pm to launch All We Can's Emergency Coronavirus Appeal. You can watch the ‘Easter Sunday Singalong’ on Facebook and Youtube channels.
A fifteen minute reflection from the team at Methodist Central Hall Westminster is to be broadcast across all 39 BBC local radio stations at 3pm on Good Friday. The reflection has been produced following current guidelines. You can find your local BBC station here.
The statement is supported by churches in membership of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, along with Churches Together in England, Cytûn, ACTS and the Irish Council of Churches.
Holy Week Statement from British and Irish Church Leaders
God’s world is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. In the nations that make up Britain and Ireland the Covid-19 virus continues to affect people at an alarming rate, health services along with many of our institutions and organisations, both local and national, are under extreme pressure and people are getting used to living in a very different way, many in extreme isolation. As with all such crises, there is a danger that the most vulnerable in society will be most badly affected.
Christians the world over are entering an important time in the church year as we look to the events of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. At the centre of our common faith are both the depths of despair and the heights of joy. In the Bible and in the songs and liturgies of the Church, we see Jesus entering fully into human suffering. In His rising again, that suffering is redeemed and transformed into hope and joy. After Jesus’ death his disciples were afraid and all seemed lost and hopeless, but the risen Christ met them in their despair and restored hope through his victory over death. We pray that the world today might know this hope in place of despair.
In the Book of Daniel we read about God’s people being taken into exile in Babylon. Daniel could not pray in the Temple in Jerusalem, but he continued to pray in exile – opening his window to face Jerusalem. Though he was on his own he joined with the prayers of the people wherever they were. Now we too are separated from each other physically, but when we pray in our homes we join in with this ancient tradition of our home as a place of prayer. Wherever we are, whenever we pray, when we speak and think of Christ, there he is in the midst of us. We join our prayers with all those who pray in our own churches and communities and around the world.
As church leaders from across the many and varied churches of these Islands we urge all people to join us in prayer this Holy Week and Easter; to pray for those who suffer, those who face untimely death and all those who care for them; to celebrate our common faith at a difficult time; to help and support our neighbours in need; and to observe all the safeguards in place to slow the spread of disease.
Loving God, in Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for our salvation, cast out the darkness of our anxiety, fear and mourning, enfold us in your love and give us joy and hope this Easter. Amen.
The Methodist Church in Britain publises a quarterly magazine, The Connexion. Issue 18 (Spring 2020) is available now and you can read the magazine online here. It is well worth a read!
Along with this magazine this month is a prayer journal, also available online here. This is published by Thy Kingdom Come, which is a worldwide prayer movement.
They have prayer journals that can be printed off / read / used for free available here.
These might be of help to those who are searching at this difficult time.
News & Notices...
What's happening at Frodsham Methodist Church & further afield.