Monday, 3 June 2013

VP - World Mission Conference

For the third week in a row it was off to Derbyshire on Friday and the World Mission Conference held at Swanwick. Its roots are with Methodists for World Mission (MWM), but in recent years it has had a more ecumenically-minded week-end conference. This year's Conference was one of the best that I have attended over the last 39 years (where did those years go?). Concentrating on continental Europe, Bishop Sifredo from Portugal brought a group to lead the singing and worship; there was an excellent input on "Believing and Belonging in Europe in the 21st Century" from a Sociology expert, Dr Helena Vilana, from the university in Porto; and an extremely stimulating talk on "Europe and the struggle for global justice" from the Bishop of Derby, Alistair Redfern. He reminded us of the Schumann Declaration that "justice is bigger than the nation state" and encouraged me to be much more active in all aspects of politics (not least engaging with Europe and MEPs) if I want to make a difference in God's world. There were a whole range of workshops, including tax justice, and talking with Alasdair of Christian Aid over tea, I asked what got him interested in CA's work. His reply was that he had attended World Village (a summer fixture for some of us for about 15 years) for a number of years as a young boy, and he believed that's what started his interest. I reflected for the rest of the week-end on what seeds we sow, and often have no idea how God enables the plant to grow. Our job is to keep on sowing. I sensed that there were younger people getting involved again in the week-end, which has to be an encouraging sign. It was certainly an excellent event this year - intelligent, informative, inspirational - locating the Christian faith at the heart of 21st Century life in Europe.

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