In his address to the Methodist Conference in Southport earlier this summer, Rev Steve Wild introduced us to the Presidential theme for this year – mission and heritage. Steve also said that, as part of this theme, he is a firm believer in social action and declared “I still want to make poverty history”.
At All We Can, working in some of the world’s poorest communities, we have that same dream – that the barrier of poverty can be overcome and everybody can see their potential fulfilled. As the Methodist charity for relief and development, that is our heritage and it continues to be our mission.
We have been through a lot of change as an organisation and a staff team in the last couple of years, which has included looking back at our past and the development of the charity over the last 70 years, from our founding as the Methodist Refugee Fund after the Second World War.
Since that time, this organisation has continued to learn how best to live out our calling, our invitation, to be a part of God’s mission. In 1985, that learning lead to the merger of the Methodist Relief Fund and the World Development Fund, recognising that relief and development belonged together and could most effectively be carried out by the same organisation.
In 2014, that learning led us away from the redundant use of the word ‘Fund’ in our name – a role we had long-since outgrown. This took us to our current identity as All We Can – the Methodist relief and development partner.
This year, the learning has brought the development of our new five year plan, focusing and making intentional our mission of standing alongside communities and local partners to help a million people to become all that they can by 2020. It has also bought new staff members, a renewed nurturing of the special relationship we have with the Methodist Church, and plans to extend our relief and development work with people in the parts of the world who need it most.
As Methodists, we can be proud of our heritage of social action and the unique role we have played in the history of the church. We began as a missionary movement, preaching in the fields, making the church accessible to the poor and vulnerable. As the Vice President of Conference, Dr Jill Barber reminded us at the Mission Shaped Heritage Conference a few weeks ago, each one of our churches, our projects and partner organisations like All We Can are part of our the larger Methodist story, which itself fits within the Christian story of what God is doing in the world, and all of which we need to learn how to present in a way that is relevant to the story of society around us.
The story goes on – the story of Methodism, of mission and of All We Can’s role offering relief and development on behalf of and in partnership with the Methodist Church. Returning to our roots can mean we find a fresh lease of life; our heritage can be a source of inspiration as we refine our mission. We stand with the President of Conference in seeking to make poverty history.