12 January 2007

Brothers and sisters in Christ? Can the Church face the challenges of multicultural Britain?

· Tackling the issues at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, 2-4 February

What role does the Church have in bringing multicultural Britain together? How can the Church help ethnic minority Christians express their faith and culture fully and contribute to the wider society? In a multicultural country, how can diversity be fully embraced and expressed in the life of the Church? These, and other questions, will be discussed at a conference highlighting the experiences and challenges of Methodists from all over the world who live and worship in the UK.

'Ethnicity, Cohesion and the Church' aims to give Methodists from across the country the chance to share stories of what is already happening throughout the Church and envision new possibilities for working with and supporting nationality- and language-based groups in their faith and worship.

Delegates will be able to hear from those working with asylum-seekers in Walsall, a Zimbabwean Methodist fellowship and a Farsi-speaking congregation in Doncaster, to name just a few. They will also be able to find out more about the mission work of the Church and what resources are available to help them to engage with mission in their own communities.

The conference will welcome a variety of speakers, such as the Revd Emmanuel Aggrey-Ogoe, Chaplain to the Ghanaian Fellowship in London, and the President and Vice President of the Methodist Conference, Revd Graham Carter and Mr Dudley Coates. The Revd David Deeks, General Secretary of the Methodist Church, will also be attending.

Ermal Kirby, Chair of the London Methodist District, which includes a variety of multicultural groups such as Zimbabwean, Ghanaian and Chinese congregations, said; 'There's so much exciting work going on around the Church, but we don't always hear about it. This weekend gives us an excellent opportunity to hear these stories and to think together how we can make the most of the wonderfully diverse gifts and different ways of being the church. We hope that we will be challenged, encouraged and uplifted by the experiences we share as a church.'

Delegates will have the opportunity to attend a variety of workshops, including 'The Challenge of New Churches', 'Urban Mission' and 'Mission Education Resources'. There will also be plenty of opportunity for worship, with morning prayer led by groups from Korea, Tonga, Ghana and Shona Methodist fellowships.

Michael King, Team Leader for the World Church Office, said; 'The Methodist Church may have started in Britain, but now Methodist and United Churches are found throughout the world, each with a rich heritage and spirituality of its own. It's always a joy when Christians from other countries, including those in the Methodist family, come to live in Britain. This conference is all about finding out what we can learn from others, how we can support one another in our faith journeys, and how we can all grow together as the Body of Christ'.

Press are welcome to attend the event Ð for more information contact Anna Drew: 020 7467 5191, drewa@methodistchurch.org.uk.

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