Reaching out to London's economic life

The Methodist Church was a major participant at a recentconference investigating the links between the churches andLondon's economy. More than 90 people representing over 10denominations, as well as observers form others faiths, attendedthe daylong conference organised by the South London IndustrialMission.

The Methodist Church was fully represented and is particularlywell placed to think London-wide with the moves towards a LondonDistrict from 2006. Harvey Richardson, the Chair of the LondonSouth-East District, Tony Barker, the Development Officer forLondon North-East District, and Tony Miles, a chaplain to the mediabased at Westminster Central Hall, all made helpful contributionsto the day.

John Ellis, Methodist Secretary for Business and EconomicAffairs, spoke at the conference. Afterwards he said, "it wasencouraging to hear stories of the diverse work already being donein London. The contrasts within the London economy were illustratedby the contrasting contexts of those who spoke. FionaStewart-Darling is chaplain to some of the world's most powerfulbanks in Canary Wharf. Kevin Belcher told us how Christians inPeckham had developed a practical response to the needs of thelong-term unemployed. A witness to Jesus Christ is needed in bothsettings."

At the end of the conference those present expressed commitmentsto work together closely, and to build deep and lastingrelationships with the wide variety of organisations that workacross the whole of London. The Rev Christine Hardman, Archdeaconof Lewisham, chaired the day and summed it up by saying "a newpan-London mission in the economy is needed, which is ecumenical,possibly multifaith, and which takes justice seriously."

John Ellis backed the calls for future work in this area to beecumenical. "Given the Priorities statement of the MethodistChurch," he said, "with its commitment to partnerships, and theAnglican-Methodist covenant, Methodism should seek to go forwardecumenically. The government structures for London want to speak toindividuals who can properly represent all the Churches - andpreferably all the faith communities - and we shall wasteopportunities if we plough individual denominational furrows. Wehope this point was heard clearly by other participants in theConsultation."