25 June 2005

New Methodist President speaks of "the God who inspires”

The Revd Tom Stuckey, new President of the Methodist Conference, used his inaugural address to talk about 'the God who inspires.' Tom began his year of office at a ceremony at the start of the annual Methodist Conference, meeting in Torquay.

Tom told the assembled 384 representatives and the packed public gallery at the Riviera Centre that he wanted to build on the messages of his two immediate predecessors. The Revd Dr. Neil Richardson had talked about a Christ- centred Church, while Revd Will Morrey spoke a year before about a God who listens.

Tom told the Conference that he wants to address two of the stated Priorities of the Methodist Church: developing confidence in evangelism; and to encouraging fresh ways of being church. 'Talk about God works best when it stimulates talk with God,' he said. 'Evangelising and spirituality are inter- dependent. There is a single word which encapsulates 'conversation with God'. It is the word 'theology'. É I believe we shall become a God centred Church when we genuinely engage in theology.'

Tom said that the Methodist Church needs to be reinvigorated by the Holy Spirit, without losing touch with the Word of God. 'Word and Spirit need each other,' he said. 'When the Word is without the Spirit the Church dries up. When the Spirit is without the Word the Church blows up. When Word and Spirit come together the Church grows up. If we are to re- capture vision we must give attention to theology and the work of the Holy Spirit.'

Tom said that Methodists need to remember, 'God is dangerous. We have tamed the terror. We have managed the mystery. 'What is the Spirit saying to Methodism? God is telling that he has not finished with Methodism but is preparing us for a new future.' Tom pointed out that Christianity is growing in many countries, and that even in Britain there is still a thirst for spirituality. Methodists should therefore find ways to recapture its foundation as a missionary movement, and to remember, 'mission is seeing what God is doing in the world, and joining in.'

The involvement of the churches in the Make Poverty History campaign is a reminder of Methodism's heritage of concern for the marginalized. Tom finished by saying that Methodism 'stands on the threshold of a new discovery of itself. Come Holy Spirit. Disturb our complacency. Drive away our fears.'

Tom grew up in the west country, attending Yeovil Grammar School before going on to university in London and Edinburgh. He entered the ministry in 1967, and has been Chair of the Southampton District since 1999. His hobbies include MG sports cars, classical music and painting. He is married with three children and two grandchildren.

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