Global Relationships

03 July 2024

The Methodist Church in Britain welcomed representatives from fourteen Partner Churches to this year’s Methodist Conference that took place in Leeds, 27th June to 3rd July.

The Conference is the governing body of the Methodist Church and meets annually to discuss matters affecting the life of the Church, the nation and the world.

Prior to the Conference, the Global Relationships team of the Methodist Church welcomed many of the representatives to a pre-conference consultation that took place in London at the Royal Foundation of St Katharine’s retreat centre and at Wesley’s Chapel.  At the pre-conference they explored issues of common concern and helped the partner representatives prepare for the Conference.

Representatives of the Methodist Church in Britain, Methodist Women in Britain (MWiB) and Methodists for World Mission (MWM) were present. Revd Trey Hall and Rachel Lampard chaired discussions about the God For All initiative for Evangelism and Growth being undertaken by the Methodist Church in Britain. Rachel Lampard and Hannah Fremont-Brown then chaired a discussion on issues of justice.

Partnership Coordinator for Europe, Barry Sloan, commented, Our strongest and best resources are our relationships. There have been some honest discussions in a spirit of real friendship and openness helping us to understand more about the global Church and about our partners. The conversations have focused on issues that we are facing together as Churches.”

GR pre conference one

Themes discussed included migration, interfaith work and intergenerational change, and the opportunities of online church. Other conversations were about fresh expressions of church, climate justice, gender violence, the changing demographics of churches in Britain and overseas. There were discussions about empowerment, interdependence and self-sustainability.

Andrew Ashdown, Partnership Coordinator for Africa, commented, The presence of our partners here cannot be overstated. Our worldwide partners bring us a huge range of experience and perspectives including those that the Methodist Church in Britain can learn about. “Being face to face, we all learn from each other on mutual terms. Inviting our partners on an annual basis is a crucial dimension that is at the core of the Methodist tradition from John Wesley onwards.

Rev Pumia Nzimande, The Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa was invited to address the Conference on behalf of the partner Church representatives who had attended the pre-conference. In her speech, she celebrated the unity of purpose and lamented the challenges facing the Methodists worldwide and the gift of migration, “We celebrated gathering together as a Wesleyan family, we celebrated the spirit of ecumenism, stories of hope and resilience, mission and ministry taking place in all corners of the globe.”

Rev Pumia Nzimande crop

“We celebrated gathering together as a Wesleyan family, we celebrated the spirit of ecumenism, stories of hope and resilience, mission and ministry taking place in all corners of the globe.”

“We celebrated our pilgrimage and people on the move, Church anywhere and everywhere, we celebrated success stories of migration, the gift of cross pollination and the opportunities for mission and ministry to the displaced. We celebrated the church as a bridge from country to country and continent to continent.

“We celebrated the value of diversity and wealth of our relationships, but we also lamented the walls that divide us, from tribalism to physical boundaries, ideologies, religious fundamentalism, empty church buildings, global recession and runaway inflation, poverty and deprivation inadequate resources, the far reaching and lingering impact of the Covid on the world economies, we lamented the cost of living and the scars that Covid 19 have left behind. We lamented the perceived greener pastures that draw ministerial agents abroad instead of working towards sustainability, self-governance and growth where we are.

“We lamented membership that does not trust institutions or process and wants instant solutions for complex issues.

“We are who we are waiting for. we came to agree. We are committed to remaining relevant but grounded in Wesleyan theology. Resetting relationships without the baggage of colonialism, and race.”

Partner churches represented at the Methodist Conference were:

Methodist Church The Gambia
The Methodist Church of Southern Africa Methodist Church of Nigeria
Iglesia Metodista del Perú
Methodist Church in the Caribbean and Americas
Methodist Church Bolivia
Methodist Church El Salvador
Methodist Church in Fiji
United Church in Papua New Guinea
Opera per le chiese evangeliche metodiste in Italia (OPCEMI)
Eglise protestante unie de France
UMC Northern and Baltic Conference
UMC worldwide
The Methodist Church in Ireland