Sunday, 28 December 2008

Methodist Church calls for international pressure to bring an end to Gaza conflict

In light of the escalating conflict in Gaza over the last 24 hours, the Methodist Church is calling for international pressure on both Israel and Hamas to bring an end to the violence.

Steve Hucklesby, Public Issues Policy Advisor, said; "The devastating death toll resulting from Israeli air strikes has shocked many. Rather than improving security, this action by Israel could compound conflict in the region. It is also likely to make it more difficult to bring regional powers together in a search for solutions. Both Hamas and Israel must respond to the UN Security Council call for an immediate end to all military operations.

"We call on the EU, United States and the UN to bring increased pressure on Israel and on Hamas to refrain from violence. At this time of year when the focus of Christians around the world is on the Holy Land we pray for courageous leadership in the cause of peace.

“Before the recent outbreaks of violence, Gaza was already suffering a dire humanitarian situation has not been helped by Israel’s blockade and restrictions on relief supplies. Now food, fuel and medical supplies are needed urgently.”

Source: Methodist News Service 28/12/2008

Christmas Message from the Methodist President

In his Christmas Message, the Revd Stephen Poxon, President of the Methodist Conference, calls for Christmas to be a time of hospitality towards strangers. Stephen highlights the work of local churches amongst asylum seekers and refugees and asks us to consider how welcome we make others feel.

Stephen says; ‘This must be at the heart of who we are as church communities. We must become people who continually offer that hospitable space, within ourselves as well as our buildings, for God’s love and grace that others may come among us and encounter Immanuel.’

The full text follows:
A night of hospitality

Christmas is the season of parties, family meals and special occasions with friends but it can be exhausting if you are the host all the time. As we listen to the Christmas story once again this year we hear that it was a night of hospitality – but who is the host?

The supernumeraries and their spouses and widows of the North Lancashire District are invited for a Christmas lunch each year. They are so grateful and often say things like ‘ it’s so good of you to host us’ but in honesty all we do is provide the space, the food and drink and then it just happens! That may be how the innkeeper rationalised offering the stable area with a manger to the holy family. As the host we’ll never know if it was out of warm generosity or just a business transaction that resulted in them being pushed out of the way.

In Britain 100,000’s of people come among us year by year from around the world. Many are migrant workers from eastern Europe, bringing their culture, faith and skills whilst others are people fleeing from persecution, war, seeking a better life for their children as asylum seekers and refugees. Time and again we hear that people want to come among us because of our hospitality; of our tolerance; our openness. How welcome do we make others feel?

Many churches are doing remarkable work among asylum seekers and refugees, with the homeless and others who feel on the edge of society. Yet there can often be a fear within us about those who are different and perhaps we might be tempted to want to push them out of the way, into the stable. As we see the landscape of our communities changing with the rich variety of people from across the world we must continue to discover ways to embrace and make everyone welcome, for each is a child of God, created in his own image. For when we meet any one we are meeting the Christ.

There was another hospitality that holy night. In a young frightened girl there is the hospitality of Mary whose willingness to receive the gift of God brings to birth the salvation of the world. We cannot begin to understand the fear, the shame, the bewilderment tinged with anticipation and even hope. Yet out of her ‘yes’ God became human and lived among us in Jesus…….and since then there have been countless people who have said ‘yes’ to God…to welcome Christ into their lives…so he may find a resting place, a birthing place to continue God’s living presence within the world.

This must be at the heart of who we are as church communities. We must become people who continually offer that hospitable space, within ourselves as well as our buildings, for God’s love and grace that others may come among us and encounter Immanuel. We need to welcome all but especially discover ways to welcome the young, many who like Mary are frightened and trying to make sense out of what is happening to them and the world they inhabit.

Yet there is a further host on that holy night. Here is God hosting his own party, the birth of His son, His own coming among us. God, Immanuel, becoming human and living among us in Jesus.

In some of the carol services this year we will find everyone singing the soprano line with no descant and little harmony. We live in a world where there is little harmony with people at war, where people in Britain struggle with the beginnings of recession, where in the wider world there is an increasing poverty gap, people suffering from cholera, AIDS, hunger and countless injustices. As we hear again the song of the angels we catch a glimpse of creation in harmony with the Creator…as a child is born….God come among us.

God the eternal host is giving us a glimpse of eternity, of His Kingdom, where all are one and at peace and in harmony seen in the poverty of shepherds and the riches of magi; in the powerlessness of the secular authority of Herod and in the glory of the vulnerability of the weak and frightened. And in this moment, this holy, eternal moment we hear the eternal host welcome us….

‘To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.’

The message will also be available online as an audio file. Visit

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Christmas Greetings

As I am about to go away for Christmas, I want to take the opportunity to send my Christmas letter to my many blogging friends who will not have had it by post. God has been good to me this year and I hope that 2009 will be an equally good adventure with Him, both for me and for you.

"Christmas greetings from Caversham. I hope that you and your family are well and looking forward to Christmas and the New Year 2009. I think you’ll agree that 2008 has been a very mixed year, both with the weather and the economy, but I hope that overall it has been a good year for you and that you will manage to escape the worst terrors of the credit crunch in 2009. It looks like being a difficult year ahead for most people but there are many more across the world whose situation is far worse than ours and we remember them as we approach Christmas once more.

I expect to be celebrating Christmas with Tony and Caroline and their family in
Derbyshire. I have enjoyed really good health this year as a result of being asked to take part in a research project to see if taking penicillin VK tablets twice a day for a year would prevent the recurrence of cellulitis. It looks as though I was taking these (and not the placebo) because I’m thankful to have had a whole year free of cellulitis.

I began the year by attending the first ever Methodist Bloggers’ Meeting on 4th and
5th January at the Community for Reconciliation Centre, Barnes Close, near Birmingham,where a small group of us discussed good blogging practice and ways to improve this method of communication. Since I was in that part of the country, I went on to Widnes to spend a couple of days with the widow of one of our former Ministers and we really enjoyed catching up on all our news.

After our annual ecumenical Good Friday March of Witness here, I went north again,
this time to steward for a new venture called the ECG Event (‘A Heart for the Nations’) which was held at Easter (25th-30th March) in Llandudno. This took the place of the former Easter People and, although run by different people – ‘NXT Ministries’, Hope ’08, ‘Youth for Christ’, and ECG – was very similar, especially in regard to the in-depth Bible Studies so popular at ‘Easter People’. A main emphasis at ECG is in catering for the 20s and 30s age group and the provision of events and activities specially geared to their needs and aspirations. For me, ECG was one of the highlights of 2008 and I am eagerly looking forward to the 2009 ECG Event which will also be in Llandudno, on 14th to 19th April 2009 – see

Another highlight this year was a family gathering at Bethany School in Kent for my great granddaughter Louisa’s first birthday on 10th May, which was much enjoyed by all of us.

Then I went to High Wycombe for the annual Wycliffe Associates Conference on 16th to
18th May where, as always, I was amazed at the amount of work that has been, and
continues to be, undertaken in support of missionaries working overseas. Of the speakers at the Conference, I was most impressed by Heather Patrick who has been doing translation work for Wycliffe Bible Translators in Papua New Guinea.

I went to the Methodist Conference in Scarborough in July where I was glad to be able
to step in to run the MET (Methodist Evangelicals Together) stand in the Exhibition,
which gave me a unique opportunity to meet old friends from far and wide as well as
listening in to the debates when not busy. As well as finding people I knew who were
manning other stands, I found myself opposite a stand run by two people who had been
teachers in the school across the road from me some years ago! It’s a small world!

I spent a week with Tony and family in Derbyshire, when we visited National Trust
Houses and then early September found me travelling north again – this time to Newcastle for the wedding of my great-niece, Nicola, to Neal, a direct descendant of John Wesley! I was met at the station by my nephew, Michael, who also lives in Newcastle, and I was delighted that he first took me along the waterfront to show me the bridges and the buildings on the Gateshead side of the Tyne in which he had been involved in the planning, before he took me home for a meal.

Despite the rain, the wedding was a very exciting occasion – both the ceremony in their local church and the reception in the magnificent Longhurst Hall in Morpeth,
Northumberland. Nicola and Neal are a lovely couple and I found myself thoroughly
enjoying the company of their many friends, who were all calling me ‘Auntie Olive!’
After staying the night at the Hall, we returned to Newcastle for an ‘Open house’ at the bride and groom’s very interesting house, which has only one room on each floor!. My only regret was that I was not able to see more of Nicola’s parents, who were kept busy seeing to the rest of their guests.

From there, my nephew Michael and I did something we have been talking about for ages
and we headed out towards Stanhope and the North Pennines’ National Park, despite the
rain that was so heavy that we were obliged to travel very slowly along the flooded
roads. Then we spent three wonderful days in Upper Teesdale, visiting familiar places from our youth, exploring places we’d only heard of previously and researching our family history. We made two visits each to the two Methodist Chapels that I remembered with such affection from the days of my youth when we had a family concert party and gave concerts there. The former Bowlees Primitive Methodist Chapel is now the Bowlees Tourist Centre, popular because of its proximity to the High Force waterfall and Gibson’s Cave, and the Newbiggin-in-Teesdale Methodist Chapel is very proud to be the oldest Methodist Chapel still in regular use in the world and jealously guards the pulpit from which John Wesley preached. Seeing a sign to Ettersgill, we followed the sign to see where my school friend, Lilian, had hailed from, but no-one remembered her – not surprising since she must have left the area in the early 1940s and then spent many years in Ghana. We visited the site of the Lady Rake Lead Mine where my father had driven an ancient vehicle in his youth – there is a photograph of him in the Beamish Museum – and,
when we went to the farmhouse where my grandfather had farmed, the current farmers
there came out to talk to us about the difficulties of farming today. A memorable trip!

I had two day trips to London (at the end of September and in early October) for a
Christian Bloggers’ Day and for the launch of the 2009 Pentecost Festival.

In September we began the 34-week Disciple 4 course, with participants from 3 Circuits. We are working hard, with quite a lot of homework, but there is such a lot of laughter in the group. The course is called ‘Under the Tree of Life’ and includes the study of the Writings, John and Revelation. I believe we are the only group in the country who have progressed through the other Disciple courses to the Disciple 4 course.

I am a representative on the Churches Together project to carry out Street Evangelism in Caversham, with a Welcome Café in the New Testament Church of God opposite the shopping precinct, but it is proving hard to recruit volunteers at present.

I have continued to proofread translations of Scripture in strange languages for Wycliffe Associates and now I have 1 John and Jude in Achi de Cubulco (a Guatemalan Language) awaiting me when I have finished writing this. I am still a representative to the Circuit Meeting, I prepare Prayer Guidelines each month and I am Media Publicity Director with a lot of work awaiting me in 2009 because of the very full programme of preachers and events arranged for our Centenary Year – see .

I continue to blog on and I was recently interviewed by
email for an article on ‘post retirement use of the Internet’, which appeared on the front page of the US Methodist Reporter – more because of my age than its content, I guess!

Wishing you a Happy Christmas and every blessing in the New Year."

P.S. Have you read my post entitled 'Letter to a Friend'? Please don't miss it!


Friday, 19 December 2008

MRDF appeals for support for crisis-hit countries

This Christmas, the Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) is calling on people to remember those affected by humanitarian crises in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zimbabwe. MRDF is supporting appeals through ACT (Action by Churches Together) International that will provide emergency supplies to some of the thousands of people who have been affected.

In the DRC, an estimated 250,000 people fled their homes when fighting broke out between Government forces and rebel fighters in October. At the time, reports from the country included stories of killing, rape, looting and children being forced to fight – UNICEF calls eastern Congo ‘the worst place in the world to be a child’.

ACT staff were able to deliver some initial assistance to crisis-hit areas. They are now assessing the current needs and are planning to provide food to severely malnourished children, safe water and psycho-social support to people affected by the conflict. Many families had to leave their land before their crops were harvested. Under these proposals, displaced families would also be given tools and seeds to ensure that there is food in their communities next year.

In Zimbabwe, a cholera epidemic has worsened the crisis in a country already suffering from desperate food shortages, a growing HIV/AIDS problem and economic instability. MRDF would like to thank everyone who has donated so far to the appeal launched in April. Over £30,000 has been raised and has been used to provide food supplies, supplementary vitamins for those living with HIV/AIDS, counselling for AIDS orphans and small livestock for food and breeding. However, the needs are huge, and growing. Further donations to this appeal will continue to provide this vital support to some of Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable households.

MRDF Director Kirsty Smith said: ‘For most of us in the UK, Christmas will be a time of sharing with friends and family. But many people living in Zimbabwe and the DRC face an uncertain future of insecurity, chronic hunger and sickness. These appeals give us the opportunity to assist thousands of people living in desperate and unstable situations.’

Donations for Zimbabwe and the DRC can be made by debit or credit card on 020 7224 4814, or by cheque, payable to “MRDF (Zimbabwe emergency)” or “MRDF (DRC emergency)”, posted to MRDF, Methodist Church House,
25 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5JR.

Taxpayers are encouraged to gift-aid their donations where possible, adding a value of 28p to every pound they give, at no extra personal cost.

Source: Methodist News Service 19 February 2008

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Letter to a Friend

In recent weeks in our house group we have made a change from our usual Bible study sessions and we have been following the Essence course, which uses non-verbal ways of exploring spirituality. Last night we were looking at our individual relationship with God and sharing our spiritual experiences.

In the course of the evening, we were each given a copy of 'A Letter to a Friend' and asked to write a reply to it. It made a deep impression on each and every one of us.

Letter to a Friend

Yesterday, I saw you walking and laughing with your friends; I hoped that soon you would want Me to walk along with you too.

So I painted you a sunset to close your day and whispered a cool breeze to refresh you. I waited - you never called - I just kept on loving you.

As I watched you fall asleep last night, I wanted so much to touch you,

I spilled moonlight onto your face - trickling down your cheeks as so many tears have. You didn't even think of Me;

I wanted so much to comfort you.

The next day I exploded a brilliant sunrise into glorious morning for you.

But you woke up late and rushed off to work - you didn't even notice.

My sky became cloudy and My tears were in the rain. I love you.

Oh, if only you would listen. I really love you.

I try to say it in the quiet of the green meadow and in the blue sky.

The wind whispers My love throughout the treetops and spills it into the vibrant colours of all the flowers.

I shout it to you in the thunder of the great waterfalls and compose love songs for birds to sing to you.

I warm you with the clothing of My warm sunshine and perfume the air with nature's sweet scent.

My love for you is deeper than any ocean and greater than any need in your heart. If only you'd realise how I care.

My Dad sends His love. I want you to meet Him - He cares, too.

Fathers are just that way. So, please call Me soon.

No matter how long it takes. I'll wait - because I love you.

Your friend, Jesus.

If you are looking for a new course - a fresh expression, perhaps - I can heartily recommend the Essence course, which can be adapted for any age group. I need to warn you, though, that the leader will need to spend quite some time in preparation each week! It is certainly proving to be a very spiritual course for us.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

What is the Church's response to the economic crisis?

The Methodist Church hosts a one day conference – The Economic Climate: Towards sustainable economies and livelihoods – on Tuesday 20 January at Methodist Church House in London.

Ann Pettifor (economist, executive director of Advocacy International and former head of Jubilee 2000) and Bob Goudzwaard (Professor emeritus at the Free University in Amsterdam, former member of the Dutch Parliament), will lead debate on the Church’s response to the current Economic Crisis.

The day will consider the root causes of the current economic crisis and the response of the Churches in terms of their prophetic, pastoral and partnership roles and responsibilities.

For further information or to ask about attending, go to .

Source: Methodist Enews December 2008

What should the President and Vice-President do?

A working party is examining and reporting to Methodist Conference on all aspects of the roles of President and Vice-President and how they work together and relate to the senior leadership of the Church.

People are invited to make their comments and submissions. These include:

how the roles of President and Vice-President might be developed;
how they might work more closely with the General Secretary of the Church/Secretary of the Conference to present a shared vision and to energise the Church;
the length of office of each;
the title of Vice-President.
You can also use the opportunity to respond to the idea of a small connexional leadership group which accounts to and serves the Methodist Council and Conference.

5 January 2009 is the deadline for your comments.

For more information go to

Source: Methodise Enews December 2008

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Churches Together in Berkshire News

Churches Together in Berkshire
Incorporating the Unitary Authority areas of:
Bracknell, Newbury, Reading, Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead, Wokingham

Honor Alleyne December 2008
County Ecumenical Officer

Who is My Neighbour?
Reading Launch

· Wednesday February 4th 2009
· 6.30 for 7.00pm start (till 8.30pm)
· Venue – Greyfriars Church, Friar Street, Reading, RG1 1EH (by kind invitation of the Vicar, the Reverend Jonathan Wilmot)
· Coffee/tea will be provided


· Setting the local scene
· Presenting the issues (Bishop Joe Aldred, principal author of the report)
· Discussion/Questions
· Networking

Contributing to the evening will be

· Alan Magness of Impact Reading
· Tim Clewer, the Mustard Tree Foundation
· Fizzang, an ecumenical youth group from the churches in East Reading

News About

· A proposed Street Pastors scheme for Reading

Methodist Church calls for welfare with dignity

Methodists have expressed concern for lone parents and people receiving incapacity benefits following the publication of the Welfare Reform White Paper yesterday.

While the proposals offer assistance to help some of the five million people who claim benefits find employment, the Church warned the proposed bill would impose new conditions and potential sanctions to a wide range of vulnerable people.
Rowntree Foundation.

Paul Morrison, Methodist Policy Adviser, said: “Research from the Rowntree Foundation and others shows that those who claim benefits exist on inadequate incomes and want opportunities to work. Although a small minority may abuse the system, a package containing a focus on coercion risks stigmatising the poorest and, at worst, not treating the benefit claimants with the dignity they deserve.”

“The Church believes that those who are unable to work because of illness, disability or caring responsibilities are valued and equal members of society and deserve a benefit system which acknowledges this.”

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

An Urgent Message from Oxfam

Decision makers are meeting this week in Brussels and Poland for crucial climate talks.

It's within their power to be bold and agree to action that will help avoid catastrophic climate change, yet they're on the brink of agreeing a shambolic, watered down position that risks locking us into a climate disaster.

We're facing a decision moment - let's demand bold, global action to tackle climate change

European countries are working out policy that should cement Europe's position as a global leader on climate change. Instead, some nations are inappropriately using the economic crisis as a reason to water down any serious plans.

The truth is that we don't have to choose between the economic crisis and the climate crisis - by investing in green jobs, and clean technology we can tackle both.

The irresponsible actions of some EU nations are now spilling over to UN climate talks, threatening to unravel any wider, global deal.

Oxfam's team of negotiators are working hard behind the scenes at the UN talks – piling the pressure on decision makers to get these critical meetings back on track.

There's no time to lose – demand bold, global action to tackle climate change

Monday, 8 December 2008

Presidents and Vice-Presidents at Swanwick

What a delight it was to visit the President's and Vice-President's blog tomight and discover a galaxy of Presidents and Vice-Presidents photographed at their (first) historic gathering at Swanwick recently, although I failed to locate Tom Stuckey, Leslie Griffiths or Dudley Coates among those wonderfully familiar faces.

I would love to have had a tape-recording of the conversations and discussions that took place there, but I'm sure we will be given the benefit of some of this as time goes on for I understood that this was the idea of the gathering.

It lifts my heart and makes me proud to have been a humble member of the Methodist Church through the years when so many of them led us at Conference and through their following year in office.

We owe so much to our leaders, past and present, and so I give thanks to God for all leadership in the past and look forward to hearing much more from them in the future as they share their vision for the 21st Century Methodist Church and the wider ecumenical witness.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

London Diocese’s Comic Turn For Christmas

The Anglican Diocese of London has produced Beano-style comics to retell the birth of Christ to schoolchildren. The church produced the comics to make the nativity story ‘fresh and relevant’ amid concerns that many children just do not know it. The comics can be downloaded along with collective worship and lesson plans from Packs of the materials have been delivered to the 479 parishes and 130 schools in the diocese.

Source: The Times (1/12)

Away In A Bus Shelter

Bus shelters across the UK are to feature an oil painting of the nativity this Christmas. The twist is that the painting depicts the holy family themselves huddled in an urban bus shelter. Artist Andrew Gadd, a Royal Academy Gold-medal winner, said a bus stop ‘is after all a shelter – a place people go to but never want to be. So where better to stage a nativity?’ He explained that the image will ‘reflect the environment’ it is shown in and ‘include the viewer’. The paintings will appear on posters sponsored by the Churches Advertising Network (CAN). Chairman Francis Goodwin said the aim is to help people ‘reassess what the birth of Jesus means to them’.

Sources: BBC online (4/12); Church of England Newspaper (5/12)

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Changing Stations

Today is a special day for many people in UK Methodism because the Stationing Committee has been meeting earlier this week and since then there has been a flurry of emails and phone calls betweeen presbyters and church stewards. The result is that today many presbyters will be visiting the stewards in the church(es) where they might possibly be stationed next September.

It is not always easy to match a presbyter's gifts, dreams and hopes with those of a congregation and so a great deal depends on these first encounters, and they all need our prayers that God's will may be done in the final decision-making. I am praying for my Minister as he goes with great expectancy to visit what may be his new 'Station', and I am hoping that he will not be disappointed there but find a real match of interests, aims and opportunities.

At the same time I am praying for the meeting today of our stewards here and a presbyter who is interested in becoming our next Minister next September. I don't think Caversham is an easy assignment but it has much potential, so I'm very much hoping that whoever becomes our next Minister will build on what has already been achieved and challenge us to move forward into fresh expressions of church that will attract many more people as we build the kingdom of God here.

As 2009 is our Centenary year, whoever comes to us as our Minister in September will find that an interesting programme has been arranged for the final quarter of the year, with several important guest preachers. The dificulty will come in the New Year 2010 when all the excitement of the Centenary Year is over and we return to 'normal'. This is when the new Minister will need all his/her reserves of strength and leadership.

Finally, let us all pray earnestly for all those presbyters on the move next year and for the churches eagerly awaiting their next Minister, that the Holy Spirit may breathe new life and health into our beloved UK Methodist Church - for Christ's sake.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Rebuke For Anti-Israel Carol Service

A London carol service organised by Jews for Boycotting Israel and Open Bethlehem, a Palestinian campaign group, has been condemned by the current and previous Archbishops of Canterbury. ‘Bethlehem Now: Nine Alternative Lessons and Carols’ featured rewritten carols which focused on denouncing Israeli security measures. The Twelve Days of Christmas included ‘Twelve assassinations, Eleven homes demolished, Ten walls obstructed, Nine sniper towers’. The Rector of St James, Picadilly said he had received dozens of complaints and would ‘think twice’ before allowing a repeat of the service.

Source: The Times (2/12)

New US Breakaway Anglican Province

A new Anglican province was announced unilaterally this week by conservative Anglicans who have split from the Episcopal Church of the USA (ECUSA). Formed by four breakaway US dioceses and conservative parishes from the US and Canada, the move is unprecedented and threatens the schism the Archbishop of Canterbury has been trying to avoid. Today a previously arranged meeting of evangelical archbishops from Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the Southern Cone (in Latin America) will discuss the development in London with Archbishop Rowan Williams. The new province would need to begin an approval process to be recognised officially by the Anglican Communion.

Sources: Daily Telegraph (4/12); The Times (5/12)

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Church hopes for long term improvement following Government’s legislative programme.

The Methodist Church envisages long term improvement rather than a quick fix to the economic crisis following the Queen’s speech to Parliament.

The Church welcomed measures to empower around eight million people on low incomes through the Welfare Reform Bill and the Gateway Savings Bill, but added there were questions still to be answered on how they would affect lone parents.

David Bradwell, Methodist Policy Adviser, said: "In these challenging economic times it is crucial that the Government does all it can to support the least well-off and most vulnerable members of society. We mustn't expect this legislative programme to provide a quick fix, but we can hope that it will help ordinary people in the long term.

"The Welfare Reform Bill and the Gateway Savings Bill provide opportunities to empower about eight million people on low incomes to start saving, with the help of Government funded contributions, and to encourage unemployed people into work. There are questions, however, about how this might impact on lone parents with young children. We will also be interested to see the detail of proposed changes to housing, employment and banking practices. As members of the Get Fair campaign, the Methodist Church supports any measures designed to reduce inequality and provide financial stability.”

The Church also said it would continue its commitment to tackle alcohol abuse by lobbying lawmakers. It also backed progress towards a fairer society as well as plans to repeal restrictions on protesting around Parliament.

"We hope to be able to engage lawmakers in a number of other areas of concern, such as alcohol abuse and the licensing of lap dancing clubs,” said David. “We hope that there will be opportunity to place restrictions on irresponsible alcohol promotions, and to give local authorities more powers to take into account local feeling when considering lap dancing club licence applications.

“We warmly welcome the proposals in the Constitutional Reform Bill to repeal the restrictions on protesting near Parliament. This Bill will also strengthen the role of Parliament in approving international treaties.

"The new Equality Bill will present opportunities for our society to become fairer, in terms of gender pay difference and by introducing a single equality duty for public bodies. This legislation does throw up issues relating to religious belief, and we still need to resolve the tension between secular expectations about equality and religious traditions and understanding of the world.

"We will continue to work closely with ecumenical partners, Government departments and MPs on these topics over the coming months. We continue to hold MPs and Peers in our thoughts and prayers as the new Parliamentary session gets underway."

Source: Methodist News Service 03/12/2008

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Methodist Church backs appeal to help thousands affected by flooding in Brazil

An international appeal to help thousands of people displaced by floods in Brazil has been backed by the Methodist Church in Britain.

Almost 80,000 people lost their homes and around 100 people lost their lives after a torrential downpour struck the costal region of the southern Brazilian state of Santa Caterina last week.

Landslides swept away homes in some of the poorest, mountainous neighbourhoods in the region and nine towns have been blocked by the deluge.

Bishop João Carlos Lopes, the Bishop of the Methodist Church in Brazil, said: “It is a tragedy. We have never had a situation like this in this country. Some towns and communities are 70 per cent under water. The Brazilian people are very caring and everybody is trying to help. The main problem is that the poor people in Brazil do not have housing insurance. If you lose your house it is gone. We are concerned about the reconstruction once the water goes down. We are also worried as it looks like it may rain again.”

Six Methodist Churches in the affected region have offered refuge to people left homeless. Pastors have also given shelter to displaced Brazilians as 25 per cent of homes in the area, particularly in the cities of Batangas and Balneario Camboriu, were devastated by the floods.

Rev Thomas Quenet, Partnership Coordinator for World Church Relationships, said: “I am concerned at what happens to the poorest people in countries like Brazil. Because Brazil is perceived as being a developed country, there is a danger that we will think the poorest in society will be given greater assistance from others. Due to property price inflation, many of the poorest people in Brazil are forced to build homes on steep hillsides, which are most at risk from landslides. This is what has happened in the Valley of Iloilo.

“I would urge and encourage generous Methodist people to make a response to people who have lost their homes, their businesses and their livelihoods.”

Oseias Barbosa Da Silva, a Methodist Minister in Tewkesbury with links with the Methodist Church in Brazil, has been offering advice to the relief workers in Santa Caterina following his experience of the UK summer floods in 2007.

Anyone wishing to support the international appeal for help to the 80,000 people left homeless in Brazil should contact Tom at the Fund For World Mission on 020 7467 5160 or via email

Source: Methodist News Service 02/12/2008

Monday, 1 December 2008

Methodist Church invited to ‘Sing a New Song’

The Methodist Music Resources Group is asking people to offer their opinions on a new collection of hymns and songs in their ‘Sing a New Song’ consultation.

The aim is to produce a music resource that retains the best of the old and includes the best of the new, reflecting a diversity of theological and musical traditions. The new compilation contains 294 hymns from the 1983 collection Hymns and Psalms, and draws on the best new material that has emerged since Hymns and Psalms was originally compiled.

The Revd Barbara Bircumshaw, Chair of the Music Resources Group, said; “Worshipping God in music and song is in the very soul of Methodism. This consultation offers people the chance to engage with the draft collection and let us know their thoughts before the final list is submitted to the 2009 Conference for approval.”

The draft collection contains over 700 hymns and songs, including international and previously unpublished material. It is arranged by subject, covering themes such as the love of God, suffering, justice and peace. At this stage the list is incomplete and there will be additions and doubtless deletions.

The consultation will run from 1 December 2008 through to the 31 January 2009. The full list of hymns, together with an online response form, is available at The list will also appear in The Methodist Recorder on Thursday.

Source: Methodist News Service 01/12/2008

Churches Call for Crackdown on Carbon Emissions Through Energy Conservation

Concerns over Government go-ahead for Kingsnorth Power Station

The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church have urged the Government to reduce Britain’s carbon emissions following Lord Turner’s report published today.

The three denominations backed the report’s aim to substantially reduce carbon emissions by 2023. They called on Ministers to turn away from investment in coal-fired power stations and look towards pumping significant investment into energy conservation.

Steve Hucklesby, Methodist Policy Adviser, said: “We welcome the Government announcement of spending to provide better insulation and energy saving measures for public housing. Those on lower incomes have found the rise in fuel prices particularly difficult. But we must go much further and invest in a programme to conserve energy across the economy.

“It is difficult to see how we can invest in new coal-fired power stations such as Kingsnorth and still achieve the rapid decarbonisation of our economy necessary to avert climate change. Coal-fired power stations produce more carbon emissions than any other generating source. We need to begin now to work for a future in which fossil fuels will be the exception, not the rule.”

The three churches also stressed that while carbon offsetting was a positive action, it would be unacceptable for Britain to use carbon credits to buy out its responsibility to reduce domestic emissions.

“Carbon offsetting is not the solution to climate change. It is right that we support the development of clean energy in developing countries, but substantially buying out our responsibility to reduce emissions in the UK would be unjust,” said Steve.

The Methodist Church working with Church Action on Poverty sent out leaflets to all its churches today with information on how to reduce fuel bills and CO2 emissions.

Source: Methodist News Service 01/12/2008