New Methodist President speaks of "the God who inspires”

The Revd Tom Stuckey, new President of the Methodist Conference,used his inaugural address to talk about 'the God who inspires.'Tom began his year of office at a ceremony at the start of theannual Methodist Conference, meeting in Torquay.

Tom told the assembled 384 representatives and the packed publicgallery at the Riviera Centre that he wanted to build on themessages of his two immediate predecessors. The Revd Dr. NeilRichardson had talked about a Christ- centred Church, while RevdWill Morrey spoke a year before about a God who listens.

Tom told the Conference that he wants to address two of the statedPriorities of the Methodist Church: developing confidence inevangelism; and to encouraging fresh ways of being church. 'Talkabout God works best when it stimulates talk with God,' he said.'Evangelising and spirituality are inter- dependent. There is asingle word which encapsulates 'conversation with God'. It is theword 'theology'. É I believe we shall become a God centred Churchwhen we genuinely engage in theology.'

Tom said that the Methodist Church needs to be reinvigorated by theHoly Spirit, without losing touch with the Word of God. 'Word andSpirit need each other,' he said. 'When the Word is without theSpirit the Church dries up. When the Spirit is without the Word theChurch blows up. When Word and Spirit come together the Churchgrows up. If we are to re- capture vision we must give attention totheology and the work of the Holy Spirit.'

Tom said that Methodists need to remember, 'God is dangerous. Wehave tamed the terror. We have managed the mystery. 'What is theSpirit saying to Methodism? God is telling that he has not finishedwith Methodism but is preparing us for a new future.' Tom pointedout that Christianity is growing in many countries, and that evenin Britain there is still a thirst for spirituality. Methodistsshould therefore find ways to recapture its foundation as amissionary movement, and to remember, 'mission is seeing what Godis doing in the world, and joining in.'

The involvement of the churches in the Make Poverty Historycampaign is a reminder of Methodism's heritage of concern for themarginalized. Tom finished by saying that Methodism 'stands on thethreshold of a new discovery of itself. Come Holy Spirit. Disturbour complacency. Drive away our fears.'

Tom grew up in the west country, attending Yeovil Grammar Schoolbefore going on to university in London and Edinburgh. He enteredthe ministry in 1967, and has been Chair of the SouthamptonDistrict since 1999. His hobbies include MG sports cars, classicalmusic and painting. He is married with three children and twograndchildren.