Friday, 14 September 2007

TUC - mimicking the Methodist Conference and mirroring Christian mission?

Ruby and I spent Monday and Tuesday this week in Brighton, visiting the TUC. Very enjoyable. And thanks David and Andrew for organising the visit, and Hannah Reed for playing 'mine host' so well!

How like the Methodist Conference the TUC is! It has a General Secretary (Brendan Barber), and an annually appointed President of Congress - Alison Shepherd. It has special seats reserved for speakers, a sizeable agenda, lights on the podium, and a lively exhibition area. People sit in groups, behind tables overflowing with paper. It was like being in Blackpool in July - nearly. But Trades Unionists, more than Methodists have adopted the 'mission statement' T shirt, and messages of varying kinds were emblazoned on every other person's top.

What the visit impressed on me again (a person not unsympathetic to Trades Unionism) was how closely the issues and agendas mirrored those of Christianity: protection for the vulnerable, equality, training and reskilling to increase opportunities, defence against exploitation, etc. The TUC, like many other groupings in our postChristin society, adopt many of the values of Christianity, but without the dogmas. Rather than see this as a glass half empty, I believe we should see this as a glass half full, and partner and work together with all those of good will who share values we hold dear.


Sally said...

I like the glass half full approach- there are many fields we could and should extend this view-point to, it is certainly the approach I take into the New Age market place!

Also I guess it is good to remember where the Trades Uninons sprang from and why...

Anonymous said...

I read with interest your comment that the TUC paralells some of the values of Christianity. I agree that it's powerful when we partner and work together with those who with member unions represent over six and a half million working people, as they campaign for a fair deal at work and for social justice at home and abroad.However, I believe as Christians we are about more than values and it's important we don't lose sight of this. The TUC campaigns with natural resources and this limits outcome. However, the Methodist Church campaign with both natural resoucres and the all important supernatural resource of love and forgiveness . If the TUC are mirroring Christian mission - have we understood the mission of Jesus Christ and the Church correctly?
Lastly why on earth would the TUC want to mimick the Methodist Conference or is that a vague recommendation for Methodist employees and Ministers to join the TUC!!!!

Methodist Preacher said...

You seem a bit surprised that a Trades Union Congress is so like a Methodist Conference! Much of what is today's trades union movement grew out of Methodism. We largely share the same genetic footprint. I belong two unions - one we "go to chepel" for a workplace meeting, in the other we call each other "Brother" or "Sister". It is time we appreciated our roots.

Mr John Cooper said...

The worrying thing about both organisations is that their general roots based split is seen to have occured around the General Strike yet their organisations bear a striking similarity still.

Have either moved on or should either have moved on in the way they do things?


Anonymous said...

The TUC, like many other groupings in our postChristin society, adopt many of the values of Christianity, but without the dogmas.

Christian values are still important in many areas of our community life - but people are not attracted to our faith. We have put great emphasis on Fresh Expressions in recent years - trying to find ways of making our worship more acceptable. Isn't this just the icing on the cake though? Many of our doctrines and traditions were determined in the early years of the common era and have not grown and developed in line with growth and of the world we inhabit. Many Christians have problems with traditionally espoused beliefs. Why then should people outside the church accept and subscribe to them? Isn't time that we scrutinized and redefined exactly what we believe and present our faith in a way that is credible to peole within the church as well as to the many unchurched people in our society?

Lee said...

Anonymous you come close to complete relativism which is not an avenue I would go down but I do understand your sentiments. As the author of this blog once said, what we now call dictrines were once apologetics.

Trouble is, people are not asking the same questions anymore so our doctrines are not the answer. Dogma is, in part, what has led to our current predicament.

Someone else mentioned 'the all important supernatural'. Why is it all important? May originate in God but humanity naturally loves and forgives. Yes there is hate and spite but humanity has a lot going for it. I get sick of hearing from the pulpit that humanity is wicked! No we're not. We are capable of atrocious acts I admit but the vast majority (the ones who don't appear on the news) are reasonable people.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lee, I don't think I'm looking for relativism, just ways of understanding God and expressing belief that are appropriate for us and for other people in our world today.
Our faith is a living faith. The story of God's interaction with his people didn't end when the canon of scripture was decided, when the creeds were formulated or when many or our traditional doctrines came into being. The world has changed vastly in the intervening centuries and where we are now is not where the people were who formulated the traditional beliefs that we cherish so much, so much so that people are afraid to let go and move on.
Our understanding of God should be growing, as our knowledge and understanding or our world is growing and we need to find ways of expressing where we are now in our journey of faith.
Of course this may mean letting go of ideas and perceptions that don't work anymore, and some people will find that threatening. But that doesn't mean we have to forget what has gone before. The people of the past and their experienes, corresponding to their world view, are part of our story. Our world view is different though and our faith must reflect this.

Lee said...

Hi Anonymous,

You won't find any disagreement with that from me.

Olive Morgan said...

Nor me. I just want to leave a message for our President and Vice-President who have set up this blog as a platform for discussions like this. Are you aware of a meeting of UK Methodist bloggers that is being planned for January 2008, at a Centre a little south of Birmingham? Since many of us have your blog listed on our own blogs, you are now one of us and the invitation goes out to you to join us, either in person or (because of your busy schedule) in prayer or by a message. You will find the update on this suggested meeting on
We will, without doubt, be holding you up in our prayers when we UK Methodist Bloggers meet in January.

RubyB said...

Just to say Olive that I posted on Dave's blog before leaving for Oz that we are not able to attend that meeting but look forward to hearing what comes out of it.