Tuesday 12th February 2019

Dear Friends

'I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full'  John 10:10

January is often the month when Methodist congregations renew their Covenant Promises together, although for particular reasons, they can be planned for the beginning of the church year in September, rather than the beginning of the calendar year. 

I wonder how many of our recent Covenant Services across our Circuit have been shared with ecumenical friends?  Where this happens, the dimension of sharing across traditions enhances the powerfully personal, but also corporate, action of 'standing together' to renew our Covenant with God.

As I write, we are also within the Octave of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - which has been another opportunity for some of us to worship alongside, or in co-operation with, churches of other denominations. 

In Taunton, 8 churches offered to be part of the times of worship, reflection and prayer over the 8 days, which has enabled a variety of styles to be appreciated, as the leaders have presented the material according to  their own tradition. 

The theme 'Only Justice' was prepared by the Christians of Indonesia, who speak of their commitment to the principle of 'solidarity and collaboration' within a challenging context of ethnic, cultural and religious diversity.

Collaboration and co-operation is also behind the community organising movement known as Citizens UK, and this Circuit has been one of the diverse groups which have come together to form the new 'Citizens Somerset'. 

This is a partnership of faith groups, schools and colleges, and other representatives of civil life, working together for real improvements in community life highlighted by local people. 

'Citizens UK' has a strong ethos of social justice, inclusion and the common good, which chimes strongly with the priorities and values of the Methodist Church.  

There is an opportunIty for you to hear more and to catch some of the important vision behind this at the Founding Assembly on 26th March.   Please do look at the more detailed article John Haines has written in the current issue of The Link.

I think the common thread here is 'relationship', and the commitment to stand with one another on issues that otherwise have the potential to divide us. 

As we build relationships, we discover perhaps that there is more that unites than separates us, and that together we have a more convincing voice to speak against the causes of suffering and injustice that threaten the fullness of life that Jesus wills for his people.