Message from the President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference following fire at Grenfell Tower.

The horror of the burning tower in Notting Hill will beimprinted on many people's minds for a long time. Our shared griefhas, however, only intensified as we heard the stories: of thepeople who are lost, people who have lost everything, and peoplestill searching for the lost. Few of us will have been able towitness these events unfold without weeping. And now comes theanger, at those with power, at past decisions, atpowerlessness.

The Methodist Church in Notting Hill has been at theforefront over the last few days. It is the first public buildingoutside the police cordon, and has been a focus for grief andpractical help. The people there and its leaders will need ourprayers and support long into the future.

At times of such heartbreaking events we risk beingoverwhelmed. How can we respond?

Our first response, along with the prophet Ezekiel who wasamong a people from whom everything had been taken, has to be oneof being alongside people and holding silence (Ezekiel 3.15). Tosit with people. To listen to them. To lament for and with them. Tooffer care and to remain silent as we feel the loss, the pain, thefear, the anger.

For there is certainly anger, and it is not to bedismissed or condemned. There is much to be angry about. Peoplewill feel angry at God. Angry at those who had the power to act,but didn't. At a society which values less those who are thepoorest or most disadvantaged in society.

We are often afraid of anger. We have an image of Jesus as"meek and mild". But we also see Jesus in the temple, who was angryto the point of overturning tables. Yet this was not an act ofviolence but a symbolic expression of anger in the prophetictradition, disrupting the actions of those who would discriminateagainst and exploit the poorest at the door of God's house. Weshould be angry at the kind of injustices emerging from thiscatastrophe: the apparent underinvesting in the well-being ofpoorest and the ignoring of their concerns. And we should allrepent where we have been complicit with injustice in thepast.

But the anger of Jesus is focused not on retaliationbut on the righting of injustice. Matthew tells how, afteroverthrowing the tables, the blind and the lame came to Jesus, thevery people who had been excluded from the temple by those withpower. They came to Jesus and they were healed. Jesus's anger ledto justice. It showed that a different way was not only possible,but was required of the people who followed Jesus. 

Our time as President and Vice-President has beenone of change: we have had the resignation of a prime minister, thesigning of Article 50, a new US President and a General Election.We have had horrific terrorist attacks in Manchester and London, aswell as in so many countries around the world. And now we arerocked by Grenfell Tower. It is increasingly clear that we are adivided country, and a much more dividedworld. 

Is this a turning point? Is God asking of us a newand radical response? The love of God, and the command to care forour neighbour, does not finish at the end of our street, or even atour national borders. And if that is the case, then we have toconsider - and prioritise - the needs and voices of the poorest andthe most disadvantaged, not only in this country, but in around theworld. 

So what do we do? We face the reality that we cannotchange everything tomorrow. But we must hold in front of us thisalternative way, the picture of the kingdom of God. And then wehave to proclaim it and live it out, in our own lives and in ourcommunities. But it must not stop there. It needs to spill out intoa passion for transforming the political and economic world,working with all who share a vision for justice and the commongood. We remember that judgement in Matthew 25 is reserved forthose who have not lived out the ways of the kingdom.

During this year as President and Vice-President we havetaken the text from Micah: "What does the Lord require of you, butto do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God". Now is a timeto cling to those words, realise that they demand of us repentancefor our past actions and present privileges, and to commitourselves to love without measure, act for justice whatever thecost, and do so whilst walking humbly with a God of love andjustice.