Most of this won’t be new to those who know me, but I was asked to write a ‘profile of myself’ for the (Anglican) parish newsletter, which incorporates news from the Methodist Church in this part of Kidderminister.
I’d just thought I’d share it here, however. I’m hoping we’ll be on broadband some time the week of the 4th of September. Don’t even ask.
Community is important to me and I believe that community is an important part of living as a Christian. I am therefore pleased to have been asked to introduce myself to Christians in Kidderminster through the ‘Five Alive’ newsletter.
You will immediately realise upon meeting me that I do not have a British accent. Before you wonder whether you should ask if I’m Canadian or American, let me tell you that I am American. I was born in Cleveland, Ohio but I have been living in London for the last 18 years. In fact, you are likely to notice that my husband, Trevor, sounds very much like the North Londoner that he is.
This is my first appointment as a Methodist minister. I trained for ministry at Wesley House, Cambridge where I have completed my course-work for an MA in Pastoral Theology; I will be working on my dissertation over the next eighteen months. Before beginning my training for the ministry, I worked for a company that advised employers on setting up pension schemes for their employees.
I am keen that Christians of all denominations cooperate together in their communities and I have something of an ecumenical background myself. I was raised a Lutheran, studied for my first theology degree at a Roman Catholic university and have previously been a member of the Church of England. To top it off, the church from which I began my training for the Methodist ministry is a combined Methodist and URC congregation.
Some of my friends might tell you that I like to be a bit different. While I know that many Christians have chosen John 3:16 as their favourite bible verse, my favourite bible verse is 2 Corinthians 5:19 “...in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.” (NRSV)
This is my favourite bible verse because like John 3:16 it us that we are saved through Christ. But it also tells us that our salvation comes in the form of reconciliation with God; our relationship with God is now a peaceful one because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. And because we now free to be at peace with God, we are also called to be bearers of that message of peace and forgiveness to the world.
This is a message of faith and a message of action. It is a message that is both ‘spiritual’ and ‘this-worldly’. I think that John and Charles Wesley would have approved.
Perhaps you can see that there is a connection between the message of reconciliation and peace-making on the one hand and the idea of community on the other hand. At the extreme, without a spirit of reconciliation there can’t be any kind of functioning community. This is a message that I believe the world at large is sadly in need of at the present time. But sometimes we as Christians do not act out this message in our own lives.
I believe that it is possible for Christians to unashamedly proclaim the truth of Christ and him crucified whilst at the same time treating people of other faiths and of no faith with dignity and respect. Indeed, I believe that we are commanded to do so when we are told to love God and to love our neighbour as ourselves.
So what does all of this have to do with me?
These are the things that I believe; these are the reasons that I am passionate about the gospel. I rejoice that God has reconciled me to himself through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. I believe that God calls me not only to tell others that all are reconciled to God through Christ, but also to live a life of reconciliation in the here-and-now.
I believe that Christians can become people of reconciliation by being regular in those activities which John Wesley called ‘the means of grace’. For Wesley this meant being regular at prayer, bible study, public worship and participation in Holy Communion. As a member of the Church which is the priesthood of all believers, it is my intention to regularly make use of these means of growing in discipleship. Although I will most likely need both God’s and your forgiveness somewhere down the line, I also hope to be a person of community and reconciliation. Please pray for me as I will pray for you.