Statement from the President and Vice President on the Asia earthquake

The Rev Will Morrey and Deacon Myrtle Poxon, President and VicePresident respectively of the Conference of the Methodist Church inGreat Britain, issued the following statement regarding the Asianearthquake and its aftermath.

"On close inspection the picture on the front of the Christmascard received on Christmas Eve depicted the Madonna and child withthe child bearing the stigmata, the marks of the crucified Christ.The artist was trying to express the intertwining of belief in aloving creator who in love becomes human and the awful reality ofdesertion and pain known through crucifixion.

"Two days later tsunami struck and an unprecedented humanitariandisaster began to unfold along the coasts of Asian and Africancountries. As the magnitude of what has happened continues to growdaily, many questions, some unanswerable, confront us. As westruggle in our response we look again at the Madonna and child andbelieve that a Christian response essentially issues from a beliefin divine responsibility that is expressed too in divineinvolvement in the suffering and pain of our troubled world.

"We are called to respond to the tragedy before us with thefullest possible expression of our common humanity.

"The immediate responses of individuals, charities andgovernments has enabled vital practical aid, but the enormity ofthe task is stressed by the World Health Organisation's plea toattend to the need for urgent work to prevent yet more thousands ofpeople dying of communicable diseases because of the lack ofsanitation and clean water supplies. If you have not alreadyresponded to the appeals for financial support please respondnow.

"We are in touch with Methodist and United Churches in theaffected countries and will continue to offer our prayers andsupport for their relief work. In all the horror there are glimpsesof hope. In Sri Lanka we hear of remarkable local acts of courageand generosity as Sinhalese and Tamil, Buddhist Hindu Muslim andChristian come together in common need and support. We ask yourcontinuing prayers.

"It is a great irony that the tsunami has struck many of thepoorest people of our world. It is imperative that the churches inBritain do all they can to press for a strategic change in globaldevelopment in 2005, especially as the British Government will holdthe presidency of the European Union and the G8 group of powerfulnations. Please join us in this also."

Will Morrey President of Conference
Myrtle Poxon Vice-President of Conference

Notes for editors: 1) The Methodist Relief and Development Fund haslaunched an emergency appeal. Details are available at
Alternatively, the Disasters Emergency Committee is acting as aclearing house for a number of UK aid charities. Donations can bemade at http://www.dec.org.uk/or by phone on 0870 60 60 900.

2) The Methodist Church has about 320,000 members in about 6,000congregations. An emergency issue of the Church's newsletter E-Newshas been issued with details of the MRDF appeal, with a strongresponse to both that and other appeals already evident.

3)  The Methodist Church is backing the Make PovertyHistory Campaign, which aims to use the UK's presidency of the G8group and the EU to push for new and effective initiatives to endglobal poverty. The MPH campaign, which spans a wide range of faithand secular groups, will comprise a number of different eventsthroughout the year. Details are available at http://www.makepovertyhistory.org/textonly/index.html