I love Methodist Conference.
Yes, I know that might be a strange thing to admit to, but it’s true. I love Conference because it is all about people.
From around the Methodist Connexion, and the world, people gathered in Methodist Central Hall Westminster last week to confer, worship, pray and make decisions about the future of Methodism.
This year, however, was more focused on people than usual. Under the Presidential theme of ‘Holiness and Justice’, we looked time and again at that wonderful passage from Micah:
‘What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.’
For me, those words feel like what All We Can is trying to do, and also act as a challenge to continue trying to live up this passage as an organisation, as a staff team, as volunteers and supporters, and as a movement.
As well as the people in Central Hall, and the Methodist Districts, Circuits and churches they represented, we also focused on how the Methodist family can reach out to those in need – how we can do justice in our communities and our world. Revd Dr Roger Walton (the President of Conference) and Rachel Lampard MBE (Vice-President) facilitated a session that challenged us to find ways to respond to the ongoing humanitarian crisis affecting refugees all over the globe. This included stories and reflections from Revd Dr Inderjit Bhogal OBE (who came to the UK as a refugee himself almost 60 years ago) advocating the use of and engagement with All We Can’s refugee resource (www.awcdev.us/allpeople).
Roger and Rachel also spoke about their time in Jordan visiting our work and we continued this conversation in a Fringe Event the following day. Our CEO, Maurice Adams, spoke about the global context of migration and introduced long-time advocate of working with refugees in Jordan, Revd Claire Hargreaves, who shared personal stories of meeting people who have fled their homes and are trying to make a life in and around the local communities in Jordan.
In keeping with the theme of the Conference, and All We Can’s commitment to living out scriptural imperative to social action, we followed the Fringe Event by holding a training session with some of our local volunteers. During that time, we focussed on how all of us can be involved in actually doing justice in our local churches and communities. In particular, we encouraged each other to find people in our local churches and circuits who would be willing to be an All We Can rep, connecting local congregations to our work in some of the world’s poorest communities.
Whether you were at Conference or not this year, I urge you to draw inspiration and courage from the call of Micah, and – wherever you are – to find ways to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.