New Methodist Vice President speaks of rekindling hope

Sister Myrtle Poxon, new Vice President of the MethodistConference, told representatives that the Church should rekindlehope. Myrtle told the Conference that "it is time to stop talkingabout decline, and emphasise that we are a church that ischanging."

Myrtle said that, although God is unchanging, the Church shouldbe open to new things. "Change is a word that terrifies a lot ofpeople, especially those within the church," she said. "I believethat our future hope lies in our ability to live in thetransforming power of God, which constantly changes us from onedegree of glory to another."

Myrtle added that the Methodist Church should work to removebarriers, not only in society but also within the Church and itscommunities. "We should be about being a people of God who areseeking not only to discover where the barriers are in our society,but helping to bring them down: not only in relation to us as achurch but also within our communities. As a church with a voice,and as individual members of that body, we are to encourage oneanother to go out beyond our borders to tackle the barriers thatdivide humankind. Called as we are to free the oppressed, we haveto find ways to help our people engage with the issues."

As Vice President, one of this things Myrtle said she wants toencourage is building bridges: "Methodism has often been thedenomination that has been the bridge builder across the churchdivide and this is a role which is even more vital today than everbefore."

She also talked about how the Bible calls on Christians to"carry each others' burdens" and how bearing burdens is one of thegreatest privileges in ministry. "At moments where all hope seemsto have vanished and at times of real joy we are able to share thatwonderful sacrament of caring. This is still the side of mydiaconal ministry that I have most appreciated," she added.

Finally, Myrtle called for the Church to ensure that it reachesout to and connects with young people. She said she was overjoyedthat in July 2004 young people will gather to celebrate Breakout inBlackpool, but questioned why such a large church is not able toattract more. Myrtle praised recent bridge-building efforts such asthe 11th Commandment competition and the Methodist involvement withthe online Church of Fools as examples of new ways to spread theGospel message. She said that much of this work will be ecumenical,and that she rejoiced in the opportunity to work closely with otherdenominations.

Myrtle said that there are many signs of hope for the Church,and that this should encourage Methodists to do more. She said thatthe whole Church should heed the words of Peter and "always beprepared to give and answer to everyone who asks you to give thereason for the hope you have."