Thursday, January 11, 2007

Contradiction in Terms

The face above is Revd Hugh Price-Hughes. One of the greatest Methodists who ever lived, who worked and challenged the Wesleyan system to ensure it was fulfilling mission based objectives and not just being pious in the pews. He would be, if things were possible, a Methodist hero of mine. One of the things that I enjoy about him is that he stuck with what caused him so much anguish, pain as well as trying to remove him from office! I am often challenged as to why I stick with the Methodist Church, challenged by both those in and those outside the church. This is, in particular, coming to ahead as I go to meetings where futures of this institution are battled out through (so called) godly conferring. I stick with it for a variety of reasons, but the passion to stick to it was rather nicely summated by Bob Hopkins who wrote this article about loyal radicals (in the Anglican Church). Whilst I would never be pig-headed enough to say I was a radical I would happily say I am in a system I want to challenge and change for the reasons outlined within. (Hat tip to Jonny Baker) For those of you who find the article too petty or even not long enough then I suggest a wee trip to the bookstore to get Why Study The Past by Archbishop Williams. In his usual, eloquent, mind-boggling way manages to disentangle what it means to be forward looking within a historical body and how to use both the benefits of looking forward with the lessons and benefits gained from looking backwards. Indeed this leads me to my final recommendation which is less hypothetical and more practical. Pioneers of Social Passion is an examination of the contribution of Methodists in London to the civil society of our capital. It looks beyond just petty beuricrats to examine people like Rank (his Central Halls), MAYC and their London Weekends, Clubland Methodist Church and much more. It is not just a wallowing in nostalgia though, each examination ends with a minor challenge around the idea of if that style/method/the point of that mission is relevant to the modern day. A humbling book that allowed me to get excited about the institution I am part of which was coupled with a suitably apt kick up the backside to ensure I never just look at the church through rose tinted spectacles and think about what was done then and what needs to be done now. Take Care Y'All John

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