Methodist Church looks forward to a strengthened European society

In an historic day for Europe, May 1st sees the accession of10 new member states to the European Union. Colin Ride, Secretaryfor Europe at The Methodist Church, said: "We warmly welcome thenew countries into the EU. We pray for a smooth accession, and lookforward to a strengthened European society."
Mr Ride, responsible for the development of new missioninitiatives within Europe, and for relationships with Methodist andecumenical partners, is optimistic about the benefits of EUenlargement. He commented: "The EU should be, above all, acommunity of values working for peace and security. More than apolicy making and economic body, the EU is a platform for people ofEuropean countries to work together. It is the best approach wehave in the development of peace, unity, mutual respect andunderstanding."
For the Methodist Church, however, Europe is larger than theEU, as it includes Russia and non-accession countries. The EuropeanMethodist Council was set up in 1993 and it coordinates Methodistwork across Europe, develops the sharing of resources, and workswith ecumenical partners in Christian mission. It is, says Ride,"an acted parable of European relationships, a model of how peoplecan collaborate, learn from each other and work together towardscommon goals."
Some of the most significant work done by Methodist churchesin Europe has been in non-EU countries. Colin Ride again: "AllMethodist Churches in Europe are minority churches, and for some itis a struggle to develop and establish their values, particularlythose living and working in post-communist societies. Some of thesesmaller churches, such as the United Methodist Church in Russia, orin the Balkans, are committed to outreach programmes particularlyamongst the very vulnerable such as the Roma people. The Methodistfamily across Europe can take inspiration from this, and can engagein a process of learning together about mission."
In a message to the accession countries, Ride said: "Let usnot allow our different cultures, faiths or languages to keep usapart. Instead let us honour diversity and work for those sharedvalues and beliefs that bind us together"