Pastoral Letter to all Ministers in the Methodist Church

Below is the text of a pastoral letter from the President ofthe Conference, sent to all Methodist presbyters anddeacons.

Sisters and Brothers in Christ;

I am sure that many of you, like me, will have been saddened bysome of the events of this past week. It has been a difficult andsad week for many of us because of the allegations made against theRevd Paul Flowers and then his subsequent arrest. All of this hasaffected people and institutions that are dear to many of us and asthings continue to develop we recognise again the complexity of ourhumanity and of our relationships.

I know that you will have been praying for all those involvedand for the Methodist Church which will, inevitably be questionedas attention is focused on the behaviour of one of our numberrather than on the numerous ways in which we seek to minister andwork for the good of society as we proclaim the gospel.

As those who are ministers we have responsibilities towards oneanother. For both Presbyters and Deacons, this is reflected inwords in the Ordination Service. Presbyters are to 'watch over oneanother in love' and Deacons 'share fully in the life of theDiaconal Order and keep its discipline'. When any one member of thebody is hurt, the whole body suffers and we are all affected by theactions of any one of us.

Alongside this, we are all called to support the weak, seek thelost, bind up the broken and in all of this to be people who bothexercise mercy and minister justice.

It can be a difficult road to travel. You will have received,and will continue to receive the official statements of theMethodist Church and these should be your guide in relation to thefacts of the unfolding events as you support and talk with those towhom you minister. All the statements can be found at www.methodist.org.uk/news-and-events/news-releases.

Please continue to pray for all those people and institutionsmost closely involved including the staff and people in theBradford South Circuit, the Chair of the West Yorkshire District,the Assistant Secretary of the Conference, the Connexional mediateam and, of course, Paul and those who know him best.

The Ordination Services include a prayer which reminds us thatwe depend on God's grace, which alone makes any of us worthy of ourcalling. During this week I have given thanks for God's grace whichdoes not depend on who I am or what I do but which is offeredfreely and is transformational. There is nothing in all creationthat can separate us from the love of God in Jesus and from God'sgift of grace, and every day I give thanks for that.

Remember O Lord, what you have wrought in us,
And not what we deserve;
And as you have called us to your service,
Make us worthy of our calling;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I encourage you to declare and affirm the grace of God whereveryou find yourself this week-end. This is the good news for theworld.

The Revd Ruth Gee
President of the Methodist Conference 2013/14