Eunice Attwood rejoices in the changing landscape.
Travelling around the British Methodist Connexion as Vice-President this year has been an absolute privilege and I am deeply heartened by what I have seen. I sense a new openness to the Spirit of God emerging and have witnessed several teams of lay and ordained people who are passionate about sharing the story of God, engaging their faith in new and exciting ways.
In every District I have met people who are putting their faith into action, being salt and light in their communities. I love the Message translation of Matthew 5.13-16: 'Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavours of this earth. You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world.'
For me, the 'God-flavours' and 'God-colours in the world' are the signs of God's kingdom and rule, justice, peace, truth, love, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, grace and compassion. Many fresh expressions embody these characteristics – creating an environment where people are accepted, where the truth of someone's life can be shared and held. This is both life-giving and life-affirming.
We all know it is possible to have great ideas and good projects, but the essential ingredient is for God's people to be transformed and renewed by the Spirit of God.
I thank God for all those who are committed to engaging in new ways with people for whom traditional church is something they simply cannot connect with.
I also rejoice in the changing landscape of our church where we are truly celebrating fresh expressions alongside traditional expressions of church. My prayer is that we continue to be open to God, enabling the Methodist church as a whole to be an instrument of God's kingdom here on earth.
Many of our structures have changed and are seeking to be changed to enable a more flexible, responsive, environment. We are blessed with leaders at all levels of church life who are deeply committed to new ways of working that enable the story of God to flourish amongst us and I have heard on numerous occasions that Connexion, Districts and Circuits are only willing to resource churches and projects where vision and mission are at the centre. As people of God, we need to continue that commitment to discerning ways of opening the doors and windows of some of our churches that the wind of the Spirit may blow in.