Dear all …
Isn’t it lovely to get a proper letter with a real stamp in the corner of the envelope and your name and address written in handwriting, which you may or may not recognise. You open the envelope and turn eagerly to the words. Of course, not all letters are welcome and not all letters contain welcome news. There are a few of Paul’s letters in the Bible which I suspect more than a few would have preferred not to have received. His letters can still be edifying for us because, surprise, surprise, the church still doesn’t get everything right.
Speaking for myself, I would like to see the Methodist Church re-orientated towards justice. It is for this reason that I am a signatory to an open letter to the Methodist Church. The full text of the letter can be read at methodistopenletter.wordpress.com, but here is a snippet of what we’d like to see:
It will be a church which measures all we do against the sole criteria of God’s justice. This is our primary calling as disciples of Christ in the Methodist tradition.
It will be a church of and on the margins. The Methodist movement is in its essence and identity a church on the margins. ALL we do and ARE must be marginal – this is our place.
It will be a campaigning church. Where we are privileged to have a voice in the corridors of power we will use that voice to challenge oppression and injustice.
It will be both a top-down as well as a grass roots church. This will need to be addressed through deliberate, strategic and resource-based decisions at a Connexional level which prioritise justice.
It will renew and strengthen its ties with Methodist charities. These front line organisations with Methodist origins deal with some of the realities which are once again at the very heart of our conscience – care for older people, the economic marginalisation of so many children and families in the UK and our responsibility for the planet.
It will be a church offering a truthful Christian voice in a sea of narrow and often hateful rhetoric, taking seriously the questions: what would Jesus do, where would Jesus be, who would Jesus be alongside and what would Jesus say?
The letter had around 80 signatories when it was submitted to the Secretary of the Conference and the Chair of the Methodist Council on Tuesday. How welcome it is remains to be seen, but one indication is the ever-growing number of signatories – now at around 150. Any Methodist can still sign the letter by emailing email@example.com and asking for your name to be added.