Since John Wesley’s time, the people called Methodists have gathered to confer, to make decisions about the life of the church and to share in worship together.
Methodist Conference has always begun with the singing of ‘And are we yet alive?’ – the Charles Wesley hymn in which the Methodist people reflect on the year just gone and look forward to what might happen next.
This year, it was my privilege to be a representative from my District to the Conference in Southport, whilst assisting with the staffing of an All We Can stall. In this role, I was able to bear witness to the very precious and important relationship that continues to exist between All We Can and the Methodist Church that gave birth to the organisation 70 years ago. People came to our stall keen to hear about the work we are doing with partners around the world, to share their experiences of supporting us locally, asking about our most recent campaigns and to take away resources including this year’s harvest pack, biblical reflections on climate change, and newsletters.
The new President and Vice-President of Conference Rev Steve Wild and Dr Jill Barber launch All We Can’s Harvest Appeal for 2015 at this year’s Methodist Conference. This year’s harvest theme is honey with a focus on bee-keeping communities in central Ethiopia.
Maurice Adams, All We Can’s Chief Executive, was at the Conference for a couple of days and presented on what the charity has been doing in the last year. He reminded people that All We Can is the Methodist Church’s dedicated partner in relief and development, and embodies and reflects the church’s practical compassion. He thanked people for enabling All We Can to respond to humanitarian emergencies around the world (most significantly in the Philippines and Nepal), and to continue to support our development partners as they seek to bring about sustainable solutions to poverty in their local contexts. Through all this, we are doing all we can to help people in some of the poorest parts of the world to become all that they can.
I was humbled and moved by the generosity shown through giving at Methodist Conference too. The Sunday collection was given to All We Can as was money collected at the Methodist Women in Britain Fringe Event and the service for the new ordinands. In total these collections raised over £6000 which will go a long way to helping people in some of the world’s poorest communities.
The question in Wesley’s hymn – are we yet alive? – is never fully answered, and in a sense it hangs as a challenge over all the business of Conference. This year, we seemed most alive when discussing life changing social issues, not least how we engage with social media, welfare cuts and the question of fossil fuels divestment and the impact on the climate. It was encouraging to see the members of Conference leap to their feet to engage with the church’s role in a changing world. I am proud to be part of a church that continues to live out its social holiness by walking alongside and supporting the most vulnerable. As Methodists, this remains at our very core and at All We Can it is what we will continue to do until every person’s potential is fulfilled.
For a limited time the All We Can report to Conference is available online