27 June 2004
New Methodist Vice President speaks of rekindling hope
Sister Myrtle Poxon, new Vice President of the Methodist Conference, told representatives that the Church should rekindle hope. Myrtle told the Conference that "it is time to stop talking about decline, and emphasise that we are a church that is changing."
Myrtle said that, although God is unchanging, the Church should be open to new things. "Change is a word that terrifies a lot of people, especially those within the church," she said. "I believe that our future hope lies in our ability to live in the transforming power of God, which constantly changes us from one degree of glory to another."
Myrtle added that the Methodist Church should work to remove barriers, not only in society but also within the Church and its communities. "We should be about being a people of God who are seeking not only to discover where the barriers are in our society, but helping to bring them down: not only in relation to us as a church but also within our communities. As a church with a voice, and as individual members of that body, we are to encourage one another to go out beyond our borders to tackle the barriers that divide humankind. Called as we are to free the oppressed, we have to find ways to help our people engage with the issues."
As Vice President, one of this things Myrtle said she wants to encourage is building bridges: "Methodism has often been the denomination that has been the bridge builder across the church divide and this is a role which is even more vital today than ever before."
She also talked about how the Bible calls on Christians to "carry each others' burdens" and how bearing burdens is one of the greatest privileges in ministry. "At moments where all hope seems to have vanished and at times of real joy we are able to share that wonderful sacrament of caring. This is still the side of my diaconal ministry that I have most appreciated," she added.
Finally, Myrtle called for the Church to ensure that it reaches out to and connects with young people. She said she was overjoyed that in July 2004 young people will gather to celebrate Breakout in Blackpool, but questioned why such a large church is not able to attract more. Myrtle praised recent bridge-building efforts such as the 11th Commandment competition and the Methodist involvement with the online Church of Fools as examples of new ways to spread the Gospel message. She said that much of this work will be ecumenical, and that she rejoiced in the opportunity to work closely with other denominations.
Myrtle said that there are many signs of hope for the Church,
and that this should encourage Methodists to do more. She said that
the whole Church should heed the words of Peter and "always be
prepared to give and answer to everyone who asks you to give the
reason for the hope you have."