This year’s meeting of the European Methodist Council, which brings together representatives of the Methodist Churches throughout Europe, is being held in Manchester (at Luther King House). I am not a member of the Council but was invited to join them and bring greetings from the British Methodist Church. I arrived late on Sunday afternoon and we joined the congregation at Evensong in Manchester Cathedral. The feast of Anglican choral music was followed by a feast of a different kind, as we shared a meal together in an excellent Chinese restaurant.
On Monday morning it was down to business (see photo, above). Chris Elliott and Bishop Hans Vaxby shared the chairing. It is clear that, while our contexts differ in many ways, there are important issues that affect us all and where the Methodist family could be more effective by communicating and sometimes acting together.
From the European Methodist Council I went to the new offices of Methodist Insurance for a celebration lunch, meetings with the staff, and an official ribbon cutting ceremony. Of all the things I’ve been asked to do as President, I think ribbon cutting is one of the more difficult. I’m not sure whether it’s an art of a science but, whichever it is, I could do with an intensive training course. However, my ineffective attempts lightened the occasion and eventually the ribbon was cut and the offices were duly declared open for business (though they’ve been in operation since July). On behalf of the wider Methodist family, I expressed thanks for both what Methodist Insurance do for us and for the way in which they do it. We are greatly indebted to them.
Then it was on to Liverpool, for the TUC Conference, which Richard has described in his blog. Methodism is the only denomination that attends this Conference and it presents us with various opportunities, not least for useful networking. Listening to Gordon Brown’s speech emphasised the importance of this coming year as we approach a General Election. There’s a great deal at stake and all kinds of uncertainties that make it difficult to predict precisely what will happen. Our Methodist tradition has always encouraged involvement in the political process and that has never been more important than it is now.