Embedding the Ethos of Belonging Together

The Belonging Together project has sought to affirm values ofinclusiveness across the Methodist Connexion through the productionof resources and new ways of working. It began following a reportto the Methodist Conference in 2010 entitled "Towards An InclusiveChurch", which built on the work already done by previouscommittees and initiatives.

The project has encouraged churches to be intentional aboutethnic diversity in leadership and stationing decisions in order tobe consistently inclusive. Strategies are being implemented tofocus on enabling the contribution, representation, access andparticipation from people from all backgrounds. 

The WesleyMethodist Church in Reading is just one of the local churchesthat is being transformed by the impact of the project.  Theyhosted an open Church Council meeting  and dared to dreamabout the kind of church they wanted to be.  The Revd DavidShaw said the project initiated the momentum for change.  Fromthe ideas and prayers shared in that meeting they developed a12-month plan for change and it is already showing results,particularly in who is involved in the welcome, worship andleadership of the local church.  

The Revd Jane Earl, secretary to the Church Council, said:"Belonging Together gave us the tools and the impetus to haveconversations in a range of places within church about the skillsand background of all of our congregations in the context of ourhopes and dreams for the Church for the future.

 "We've been working on three themes: to develop ourworship and music life, to develop our welcome to those who comenew to the church and to those who have been with us for some timeand to develop and maintain our work with young people."

The Revd Katei Kirby, Partnership Officer for Belonging Together, said: "TheMethodist Church in Britain is one of the most ethnically diversechurches in the UK, and that is something to be celebrated. This three-year project gave the Church the opportunity tosee what could happen when people of all ethnic backgrounds areencouraged to become and belong.  As the project closes, theChurch now has the responsibility to continue to be intentional anddeliberate about ethnic inclusion, so that the rich diversity ofthe whole people of God is both visible and sustained."

The Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the MethodistChurch, said: "The end of this project should mark the beginning ofa more excellent way of being an ethnically inclusive Church, and Iinvite us all to help make it so."