31 December 2004

Statement from the President and Vice President on the Asia earthquake

The Rev Will Morrey and Deacon Myrtle Poxon, President and Vice President respectively of the Conference of the Methodist Church in Great Britain, issued the following statement regarding the Asian earthquake and its aftermath.

"On close inspection the picture on the front of the Christmas card received on Christmas Eve depicted the Madonna and child with the child bearing the stigmata, the marks of the crucified Christ. The artist was trying to express the intertwining of belief in a loving creator who in love becomes human and the awful reality of desertion and pain known through crucifixion.

"Two days later tsunami struck and an unprecedented humanitarian disaster began to unfold along the coasts of Asian and African countries. As the magnitude of what has happened continues to grow daily, many questions, some unanswerable, confront us. As we struggle in our response we look again at the Madonna and child and believe that a Christian response essentially issues from a belief in divine responsibility that is expressed too in divine involvement in the suffering and pain of our troubled world.

"We are called to respond to the tragedy before us with the fullest possible expression of our common humanity.

"The immediate responses of individuals, charities and governments has enabled vital practical aid, but the enormity of the task is stressed by the World Health Organisation's plea to attend to the need for urgent work to prevent yet more thousands of people dying of communicable diseases because of the lack of sanitation and clean water supplies. If you have not already responded to the appeals for financial support please respond now.

"We are in touch with Methodist and United Churches in the affected countries and will continue to offer our prayers and support for their relief work. In all the horror there are glimpses of hope. In Sri Lanka we hear of remarkable local acts of courage and generosity as Sinhalese and Tamil, Buddhist Hindu Muslim and Christian come together in common need and support. We ask your continuing prayers.

"It is a great irony that the tsunami has struck many of the poorest people of our world. It is imperative that the churches in Britain do all they can to press for a strategic change in global development in 2005, especially as the British Government will hold the presidency of the European Union and the G8 group of powerful nations. Please join us in this also."

Will Morrey President of Conference
Myrtle Poxon Vice-President of Conference

Notes for editors: 1) The Methodist Relief and Development Fund has launched an emergency appeal. Details are available at
Alternatively, the Disasters Emergency Committee is acting as a clearing house for a number of UK aid charities. Donations can be made at http://www.dec.org.uk/ or by phone on 0870 60 60 900.

2) The Methodist Church has about 320,000 members in about 6,000 congregations. An emergency issue of the Church's newsletter E-News has been issued with details of the MRDF appeal, with a strong response to both that and other appeals already evident.

3)  The Methodist Church is backing the Make Poverty History Campaign, which aims to use the UK's presidency of the G8 group and the EU to push for new and effective initiatives to end global poverty. The MPH campaign, which spans a wide range of faith and secular groups, will comprise a number of different events throughout the year. Details are available at http://www.makepovertyhistory.org/textonly/index.html

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