01 June 2000

Rev Inderjit Bhogal's speech to the Methodist Conference in Huddersfield immediately after his induction as President

After his induction as President of the Methodist Conference at 3pm on Saturday 24 June 2000 at the Town Hall in Huddersfield, Rev Inderjit Bhogal addressed the representatives.

Mr Bhogal spoke of what he valued in Methodism: its scriptural holiness; the tradition of giving priority to the poor; its music and singing; prevenient grace in that Christ died for all; the Methodist Class System; its focus on food and sharing hospitality.

He spoke of what he finds compelling in Jesus Christ: how Jesus expresses a God who is with us all, who respects people of other faiths and who eats with whoever will eat with him; a man who dies abandoned by his friends. "The genius of Jesus was to put food, a meal, at the centre of his community."

Three words Respect, Embrace, Life should be integral to Church life and theology. "Respect is the deepest expression of life in relationships between adults, young people and children and especially for older people." Respect is essential in our relationship with our environment and natural world and in our relationship with God. "To embrace each other is to accept each other without requiring everyone to think and speak and appear the same To embrace is to be prepared to sit at Table together and share bread with others." "Life abundant" he says "is the life God desires for all, whole life on earth, life that is not extinguished by death, life that in union with God know no bounds or bondage." Church life, politics and national life must all be judged by their results. Where life is not enhanced, we should protest.

The nation and the Church can be judged by how we treat the elderly, children and strangers. "What, for example, is our nations treatment of those who seek refuge and asylum here todays strangers?" Mr Bhogal goes on: "The situation is now scandalousThe abusive ways in which asylum seekers are treated mocks the image of God in their human beingTheology begins where we ask Why is it like this? Spirituality begins with an honesty about reality."

He concludes by asking how Methodism measures up and then quotes from Maya Angelou: "The question is not how to survive but how to thrive with passion, compassion, humour and style."

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