Conference day one



Linda Crossley and Alison Judd updating us on Methodist Women in Britain

So ... here ends the first day of Conference.

Today I was privileged to attend the Pre Conference Consultation, an annual gathering of representatives from partner churches around the world. There were about 30 people from all corners of the earth - a fantastic blend of cultures and world views which led to stimulating and creative discussion. It was, I felt, a refreshing time together. I enjoyed discussing interesting topics these interesting people.

I lost my programme somewhere along the way so now I have to cast my mind back  remember what topics we discussed. As I left my house at 4.50am this morning it feels like the day stretches back a long way!! Fortunately I was tweeting throughout the day and these tweets not only serve the purpose of sharing with the a wider audience what happened, but of reminding me of what happened!

The first session was on the topic of 'Innovation in Evangelism'. This was led by two of my colleagues from the Discipleship and Ministries Cluster, Jo Cox and Jenny Ellis. Jo opened our minds to the changing context in which we find ourselves in the UK and challenged us to think about how we can 'do evangelism' when people are in a completely different place to where we are, and to where we can presume that they are. The post Christendom nature of Europe at the minute must look to some like a paradigm shift. It must be strange when you come from a country which was 'given' Methodism by Great Britain; now you hear stories of the demise of the church and of Christianity in that same place. We can feel like we are becoming ever smaller - like the golden days are past. I was aware that for many of the countries represented their history and current position is very different. I think it's important to cast our eyes upwards and see beyond the boarders of our tiny island. As I was reminded today we are part of a church of 8 million members!

Jenny and Jo demonstrated to us a new resource that has been produced called 'Table Talk'. This consist of cards with interesting and challenging questions around a topic eg 'evil' or 'forgiveness' or 'death' which aim to be a springboard for a conversation. I've seen similar ideas and resources out there but the questions are really good quality so I recommend having a look at it.

Second session was about media - and I tweeted my way quite successfully through that one! I'll just repeat a couple of points that have stuck in my mind
- Media is a magnifier. If you get the right story and the right outlet (and the right timing) it can go huge.
- You can't not communicate. If you don't say anything it can seem like you don't care. You are either communicating intentionally or unintentionally but you are always communicating.
We spent time in groups discussing the worth of communicating, and the challenges of communicating. Consider this; the church of North India works in an area with many languages. It was either 18 or 80 - either way it's a lot. How can you communicate effectively both internally and with the outside world when this is the case?

After lunch we had a group photo and then the third session of the day. This one was on the 'people to people' programmes being developed by the World Church Relations Team. This is something that I have discussed with David Friswell, who leads that team, in the past and I am hopefully that some really good programmes will be created over the coming months and years. In my group there was myself, Linda Crossley from Methodist Women in Britain, Jose from Portugal, Alwan from India and Trish who went on a 'people to people' type programme to India a few years ago. It was fascinating to have such varied perspectives in the group. One question was whether this type of programme should be 2 way to which our group said emphatically 'yes'. We went on to identify that we can help each other in different ways and perhaps at different times in the lives of our churches.

I snuck out after that missing the last session as I wanted to work on some of the things I need to have ready for this week. Feel like I have lots of things to juggle but it will all come together, I am part of a brilliant and supportive team, I feel like the other 3 children and youth reps and I have some good things to say and it is and will continue to be a great, God-filled, hope-filled week.

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