Thursday, 9 May 2013

Deacons and Ecumenists - local and global

Last week it was a relatively 'domestic' few days in Banbury, punctuated by a funeral service for an old friend back in Hertfordshire. The May Bank Holiday celebrations in the village were excellent - lots of stalls, morris dancing. crowning of the May King and Queen, followed by many other children from the school dancing round the maypole on the green. A very happy afternoon. On Tuesday I was at Swanwick for the opening day of the Methodist Diaconal Order's annual convocation, which was a lovely blend of the old and the new. There was a vibrancy about the proceedings and new opportunities, as well as an appropriately respectful honouring of what had happened previously. Honouring the past is hard to do well; and there have been many occasions over the last year when I have wondered if, in the natural urgency to respond to the rapid changes, has the Church properly acknowledged the faithfulness of those who have enabled us to get to this point? I know that I owe a great deal to Deaconness Mary, who was such a wise counsellor to me in Sierra Leone. Would I be the person today without the quiet guidance of such experienced Christians? The next day I was at High Leigh as one of the Methodist representatives to the CTBI annual gathering. For me, this was a wonderful opportunity to meet up again with ecumenical chums, many of whom had been colleagues on joint pieces of mission work when I worked in the Connexional Team. The afternoon was taken up with some 'in depth' hearings; first I attended ones on the Israel-Palestine situation (and it was good to hear John Howard talking about his recent sabbatical as an EAPPI volunteer), and secondly on what the Churches' response to Poverty might be. The recent excellent JPIT report (Myths and Lies about Poverty) was quoted a number of times. I was again struck by how local and global issues are so inter-related, and how much more all of us Christians could be doing socially, economically, politically etc to transform situations, if we had the will and energy to do so. The topic of foodbanks inevitably cropped up in the Poverty 'hearing' and someone mooted the point that if every time food was given out at a church, it generated a separate letter to the local MP (or PM?), the scandal of the situation might hit home more forcefully. And I again wondered if I care enough?

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