It was an easy start for me today. Because the main business of Conference began in the afternoon I got to sleep in a little and have the morning to be a bit of a tourist. 🙂
Because it was July 4th, a trip to the US embassy only made sense. It proved to be less exciting than I expected because like everything else in America it had the day off. The guards were friendly, but definitely not letting any tourists in, no matter their nationality. I did get to enjoy the many presidential statues all around Grosvenor Square. There was FDR, Eisenhower, and Regan (not to mention the one of Lincoln next to the Houses of Parliament!)
The morning ended with a simple midday communion service at the not-so-simple St. Paul’s Cathedral. It really is a beautiful place!
Conference began after lunch with the Presbyteral (ordained Elders/minister) session. Conferences used to be only for the clergy and local preachers. As the movement grew, however, the church realized that the leadership needed to be shared with the laity–and it has been the stronger for it!
My main task was to walk around MCH and capture the feel of Conference with pictures. For a shutterbug like myself this was a dream come true! See the gallery below for some of my favorites, or go to the Methodist Church’s Flickr page for more.
Walking around I got to talk to many of the staff and volunteers who were helping to make the conference run. A little while ago a message went out to the circuits around London requesting volunteers and the people who stepped up have a passion for Methodism and a seriousness to their task. Methodist Central Hall is a very open place, so as one woman told me her job was to “help the right people in and keep the wrong people out.”
In the session, the highlight for me, and many, was the pastoral address given by the outgoing president of Conference, Mark Wakelin (click here to listen). He reminded the presbyters of three simple truths:
- God is God
- God is with us
- God believes in us.
There is going to be a lot of business done in the following days which is the result of the decline in membership of the Methodist Church in Britain. This reality can be responded to in many ways, however, I believe that if we as faithful people of God (who are also called Methodist) can keep those three truths in mind we will witness God doing amazing things in and through our churches and the wider Connexion.
(This is a series of blog posts during the British Methodist Conference. For other posts click here: Day 1)