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Minister's letter for 30 June

Dear Friends,

This week our circuit worship will only be available via the printed sheet, whilst Michelle has a well deserved break. We hope to be back to the usual format in couple of weeks.

I will be attending the Methodist Conference this year as a Southampton District Rep. There are three volumes of agenda to read through with each report representing months and even years of work. Covering a vast number of topics, they range from the routine to introducing the new.
Sometimes you can see the changes in society that have brought them about. For instance the reality of an expanding online church presence, more than live streaming a service, but as a church in its own right. This, linked with the ongoing discussion about membership of the Methodist church in 21st century, raises really interesting ideas about church as a place and the notion of 'belonging' and commitment.

Inevitably some of the reports draw the attention more readily than others, I assume that the introduction of the Connexional Council from September this year, which will hold the trusteeship of the Methodist Church in Great Britain, instead of the Conference will spark some discussions as people seek to understand and ensure that it works to enhance our structures and running. But sometimes it is the reports that sit quietly in the agenda that create a real response.

Conference is also a fascinating place to people watch as well, whether during the sessions or in the coffee breaks. There are those who are frequent attenders, those who are passionate about a particular aspect of church whether it is governance; evangelism, justice, representatives from Methodist Connexions around the world and partner denominations and other faiths. Here we remember the ministers who have died during this connexional year in a moving service alongside their families. It is the place where after years of discernment and training, ministers – both deacons and presbyters – are received into full connexion and ordained, a truly joyous occasion.

There are many fringe events (such as talks and discussions on particular topics) and different organisations showcasing what they do and how one can be involved if one wishes to be. And of course the chance to purchase Methodist memorabilia (fudge, tea towels, paper weights and all kinds of things).

It is an intense time, the timetable is tight, especially so this year as there is half a day less than before. But it is also a wonderful time to meet up with old friends from across the Connexion and to make new ones (or randomly bump into the relations of some members in the circuit here – it is a very small world).

It is hard work, but it is also rewarding and a privilege to be a part of this great conferring of the Methodist Church in Great Britain, bringing local church concerns into the wider Connexion. This year we are in Leeds, a new location for the conference, nevertheless this is still our Connexion and the decisions that are made in this place will have an impact on each local church in our circuit. It is up to us how we enact and react to them.

The Conference and the Connexion are far from perfect, but then so are our local churches – but we are all part of the Connexion – the ideal is a mutual interdependence, looking out for each other, supporting each other. We are striving to be the Body of Christ, to reflect something of God's presence and of the Kingdom of God in the communities in which we serve.

We are living stones – chosen and precious in God's sight. (1Peter 2:4-8)

Every blessing

Rev Karen.

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