28 October 2003

Methodist President appears on BBC Radio Two

Methodist Conference President, the Rev Dr Neil Richardson, today appeared on the 'Wake Up To Wogan' programme's 'Pause For Thought' spot. Below is the script of the President's contribution on BBC Radio Two:

"Well, Terry, I want to tell you that Methodists are Christians with a special line in optimism. That's the best way to think of us.

"One of the ways Methodist optimism has shown itself over the years is in trying to make life better for people. For example, Methodists were often amongst the first trade unionists - one group of them got transported to the West Indies for their trouble. But the driving conviction was always: life can be improved- for everyone.

"There's another strand to Methodist optimism. It's the belief that no-one - no-one at all - is beyond help, or outside the scope of God's love which, in the Christian view, can be seen best of all in Jesus Christ. So everyone - without exception - is welcome.

"A lady recently collected her child from an after-school club on Methodist premises, and asked if anyone was allowed to attend that church. Answer: of course they can! Anyone! No special qualifications needed. You don't have to put your best clothes on. And to start with, you don't even have to believe. If you want to come, just turn up.

"And if someone feels they've made a real mess of their lives - well, this is where Methodist optimism comes in again. Our founder, John Wesley, urged the first Methodists to go to those who needed them most - because no-one is beyond help. I recently visited the Methodist Church in Southern Africa, and discovered that a lot of Methodists there are heavily involved in relief work for people suffering from HIV/Aids. And, as I mention Southern Africa, perhaps it's worth adding that Methodists have always had a world vision which crosses boundaries and continents. (In fact, the latest statistics are that the number of Methodists worldwide is increasing by a million a year).

"The secret of what I've called Methodist optimism really lies in the very last words John Wesley is supposed to have said. He said 'The best of all is: God is with us'.

"So, Terry, that's the secret. It's not na•ve. It's not a refusal to face facts. It's the simple conviction that, as long as God is around, there is hope for everyone - absolutely everyone."

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