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A Church of resilience and hope

Elizabeth McWatters, MWI President, along with Mamie Davis and Louise Wilson,  recently went on a visit to the Methodist Church in Upper Myanmar (formerly Burma).  In the February issue of the Methodist Newsletter Elizabeth describes the visit, emphasising the friendliness of the people, their aspirations and their difficulties.  One of the most moving parts of her description is a visit to a leprosy village and there is a photograph of one man suffering from leprosy dressing the foot of another – a powerful picture:

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The thrill of mission

In his letter in the February issue of the Methodist Newsletter, The President, Laurence Graham, talks about the thrill of mission.  He had been up on the north coast visiting the Surf Project and felt that he really needed to experience the actual surf.  So, donning a wet suit and experiencing a few teething problems, he was able from time to time to experience being carried along by the waves and feeling the thrill that that gave him.  When the conditions were just right, Laurence and the wave were working in partnership. The same, he says, about doing mission with God.  We have the thrill of being in a partnership with God and being carried along by him.   We’re also in partnership with our fellow Christians all over the world and Laurence asks us in the New Year ‘be open to learning from them as we all partner together with God in his mission.’

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Jono Griffin and Laurence at the north coast.

 

January 2018 issue now available

The January 2018 issue of the Methodist Newsletter has just been published and is available for collection.

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The joys and challenges of ministry

 

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The Junior Ministers 2017

The Junior Ministers (in their first ten years of ministry) of the Methodist Church in Ireland met recently for their annual meeting.  Two of the presenters at the meeting were the Rev Dr Ken Wilson on the theme  of ‘The Challenge of Ministry’ and the Rev John Alderdice on the theme of ‘Tensions in Ministry’.  These were two very apposite subjects bearing in mind the results of a recent, short survey conducted by the Rev Ross Harte amongst Junior Ministers about the joys and challenges of their ministry.

 

From the survey, the most fulfilling aspect of ministry is leading worship and preaching (50%). Further satisfaction comes from leading people to Christ (27%), meeting people in their homes (23%) and walking with people through illness and death (23%). This suggests a strong link between the call to ministry and the desire to lead God’s people in worship and discipleship along with a compassionate drive to be with people in their difficult times.

Perhaps understandably, the challenge selected by most people was not having enough time to do everything they want (or are expected) to do (39%). Time pressures necessarily lead to the prioritisation of some aspects of ministry, which can lead to tension both internally and with other people. Loneliness (or not having any ‘real’ friends in the church) was the second most selected challenge (31%). Perhaps this is because ministers find themselves surrounded by people but unable to form deeper relationships that aren’t governed by an unwritten ‘pastor-client’ contract.

Every role comes with its joys and challenges, but at present it appears that some junior ministers might not be flourishing in the way we might hope. The Rev Harte suggests taking a moment to commit to praying daily for our ministers as they help the Church find its way through this season of anxiety and uncertainty.

A full account of the junior ministers’ meeting and the Rev Harte’s survey will be published in the January issue of the Methodist Newsletter.

Do you know people you disagree with?

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In his latest President’s letter to be published in the January edition of the Methodist Newsletter, Laurence Graham asks if we really know people we disagree with.  Referring to the story of the woman at the well, Laurence makes the point that Jesus cut across all the barriers of division by, not only initiating a conversation, but even making himself vulnerable by asking for the woman’s help to get water.

Laurence asks us, in the New Year, to think of people with whom we disagree and make an effort, not necessarily to agree with them, but to get to know them.  He himself has made a start by attending a Party Conference of a party whose views he doesn’t agree with and also talking to people of different faiths.  He still doesn’t agree with them, but he now knows them better.  He quotes the words of the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, ‘Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?   May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt we may.’

The full text of the letter will be printed in the January issue of the Methodist Newsletter.

December Methodist Newsletter now published

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Copies of the December 2017 Methodist Newsletter are available for collection.

November Methodist Newsletter now published

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The November issue of the Methodist Newsletter is now available for collection.