What are we about? What is our vision of the Church we are called to be and to co-create? To get us started, here are some of my thoughts and vision – does it hit the mark? What is missing and needs to be added?
Donald Soper called on the Methodist Church to be a FELLOWSHIP OF CONTROVERSY, a place where agreement is not considered the basis of unity and the mind of Christ is discerned together in open conferring. We want a Church where people do not have to hide who they are or love and trust others to treat them with respect and love, even if they profoundly disagree. The characteristics of this fellowship include:
We accept that diversity is one of God’s gifts and is increasing. We rejoice that God has created LGBTQI+ people as part of that rich tapestry of life and we seek to celebrate that in worship. Our job is not to try to make people more like us and we reject the idea that ‘we are all basically the same’. (Psalm 24:1)
Participation in the ministry of reconciliation means that we are committed to living it out in our daily lives. This means working and worshipping with people who differ from us and refusing to demonise others because of their views. We are committed to justice and full inclusion for LGBTQI+ people whilst also strengthening our Christian fellowship with those who disagree. (2 Cor 5:19)
We acknowledge our continued need of support from friends and allies in safer spaces inside and beyond the Church. We commit ourselves to offering safer spaces to the most vulnerable among us (Gal 6:2). But our faith calls us beyond the safer space to offer a hospitality which risks the open hand to the Other. We will work hard to build real, deep friendships with Methodists who consider themselves opposed to the full inclusion of LGBTQI+ people in which we model respect and challenge bad behaviour. (Heb 13:2)
The heart of the mission of Christ is life in all its fullness. We will seek to join in God’s continuing mission in the world to enable life to flourish through love and service. Our struggle for justice in the church is only so that our mission in the world will have greater power and authenticity. (John 10:10)
We look to the witness of the Living Word of God in Scripture as the basis of our faith (John 1:14). We will continue to wrestle with the Biblical text using all our minds and hearts to allow our lives to be shaped by the Gospel of love (Romans 12:1-2). We will also commit to study the Bible as a collective enterprise reliant on the work of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26).
We rejoice in our Methodist heritage with its commitment to transformation, justice and social holiness. We act out of our love for the Methodist people and our desire to see Methodism fit for mission. We seek a real unity in the Church built on honesty, trust and mutual love and respect. (Micah 6:8)