Methodist President appears on BBC Radio Two

Methodist Conference President, the Rev Dr Neil Richardson,today appeared on the 'Wake Up To Wogan' programme's 'Pause ForThought' spot. Below is the script of the President's contributionon BBC Radio Two:

"Well, Terry, I want to tell you that Methodists are Christianswith a special line in optimism. That's the best way to think ofus.

"One of the ways Methodist optimism has shown itself over theyears is in trying to make life better for people. For example,Methodists were often amongst the first trade unionists - one groupof them got transported to the West Indies for their trouble. Butthe driving conviction was always: life can be improved- foreveryone.

"There's another strand to Methodist optimism. It's the beliefthat no-one - no-one at all - is beyond help, or outside the scopeof God's love which, in the Christian view, can be seen best of allin Jesus Christ. So everyone - without exception - is welcome.

"A lady recently collected her child from an after-school clubon Methodist premises, and asked if anyone was allowed to attendthat church. Answer: of course they can! Anyone! No specialqualifications needed. You don't have to put your best clothes on.And to start with, you don't even have to believe. If you want tocome, just turn up.

"And if someone feels they've made a real mess of their lives -well, this is where Methodist optimism comes in again. Our founder,John Wesley, urged the first Methodists to go to those who neededthem most - because no-one is beyond help. I recently visited theMethodist Church in Southern Africa, and discovered that a lot ofMethodists there are heavily involved in relief work for peoplesuffering from HIV/Aids. And, as I mention Southern Africa, perhapsit's worth adding that Methodists have always had a world visionwhich crosses boundaries and continents. (In fact, the lateststatistics are that the number of Methodists worldwide isincreasing by a million a year).

"The secret of what I've called Methodist optimism really liesin the very last words John Wesley is supposed to have said. Hesaid 'The best of all is: God is with us'.

"So, Terry, that's the secret. It's not na•ve. It's not arefusal to face facts. It's the simple conviction that, as long asGod is around, there is hope for everyone - absolutelyeveryone."