25 November 2013
Pastoral Letter to all Ministers in the Methodist Church
Below is the text of a pastoral letter from the President of the Conference, sent to all Methodist presbyters and deacons.
Sisters and Brothers in Christ;
I am sure that many of you, like me, will have been saddened by some of the events of this past week. It has been a difficult and sad week for many of us because of the allegations made against the Revd Paul Flowers and then his subsequent arrest. All of this has affected people and institutions that are dear to many of us and as things continue to develop we recognise again the complexity of our humanity and of our relationships.
I know that you will have been praying for all those involved and for the Methodist Church which will, inevitably be questioned as attention is focused on the behaviour of one of our number rather than on the numerous ways in which we seek to minister and work for the good of society as we proclaim the gospel.
As those who are ministers we have responsibilities towards one another. For both Presbyters and Deacons, this is reflected in words in the Ordination Service. Presbyters are to 'watch over one another in love' and Deacons 'share fully in the life of the Diaconal Order and keep its discipline'. When any one member of the body is hurt, the whole body suffers and we are all affected by the actions of any one of us.
Alongside this, we are all called to support the weak, seek the lost, bind up the broken and in all of this to be people who both exercise mercy and minister justice.
It can be a difficult road to travel. You will have received, and will continue to receive the official statements of the Methodist Church and these should be your guide in relation to the facts of the unfolding events as you support and talk with those to whom you minister. All the statements can be found at www.methodist.org.uk/news-and-events/news-releases.
Please continue to pray for all those people and institutions most closely involved including the staff and people in the Bradford South Circuit, the Chair of the West Yorkshire District, the Assistant Secretary of the Conference, the Connexional media team and, of course, Paul and those who know him best.
The Ordination Services include a prayer which reminds us that we depend on God's grace, which alone makes any of us worthy of our calling. During this week I have given thanks for God's grace which does not depend on who I am or what I do but which is offered freely and is transformational. There is nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Jesus and from God's gift of grace, and every day I give thanks for that.
Remember O Lord, what you have wrought in us,
And not what we deserve;
And as you have called us to your service,
Make us worthy of our calling;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I encourage you to declare and affirm the grace of God wherever you find yourself this week-end. This is the good news for the world.
The Revd Ruth Gee
President of the Methodist Conference 2013/14