A reflection from Rachel Fielding, our Facebook moderator and member of the steering group:
‘We are not alone, we live in God’s world’ said the opening letter of the 2023 Methodist Convocation week booklet – a good start welcoming all present. The theme for the convocation this year was God for All’, highlighting the change to their rule of life – reviewed last year.
‘We recognise God’s image in all that God has made;
we welcome and celebrate the gifts and talents of all.
Through our diversity we gain a greater insight into the kingdom of God.’
We gathered daily in the large conference room at Yarnfield, Stone, Staffordshire for worship, prayers, and lectures/bible study. Smaller rooms were used for a variety of workshops, an excellent book shop and many smaller stands with paintings, crafts and cards made by Deacons attending over the 4 days.
Each day everyone gathered for Morning Prayer, followed by recorded testimonies from those Deacon’s ‘standing down’. (Standing down in the Methodist Deacon’s life is a retiring from stationing in a circuit and an end to being sent out to live wherever they are called). There were many moving recollections from some who had been part of the original Methodist Deaconess’s order – from stationing abroad, challenges met and life changing encounters.
Each day different people spoke about a new resource produced by Methodist Deacons Eunice Attwood and Kerry Scarlett. ‘Beginning a Church at the Margins’ is a course which introduces the theological foundations, core values and core practices to what we would call in the Church of England ‘Church Planting’. (This brilliant resource is available free online – link provided below.)
The course is set out into 6 sessions
- Introducing the resource
- Visions and Values
- Creating Connections
- Nurturing Communities
- Sharing the Gospel
- Seeing Transformation
Each session is clearly laid out with an emphasis on bible study and prayer, group discussion, reflection, and practical activity. There are further resources listed at the end of each session including films, books, and organisations.
Other presentations came from various angles – from how to create community with non-churched people, arranging one to one meetings with no set agenda other than relationship building, and basic listening skills. All were useful for the life of a Deacon and designed to be not simply achievable but foundational in day-to-day ministry to all.
The fellowship between the Methodist Deacons was infectious and their joy at spending time together was evident in everything they did. It was also surprising to learn from many conversations that Methodist Deacons have similar struggles to those of us in the Church of England. ‘When are you finishing training to become a Presbyter?’ ‘What is a Deacon for?’ ‘Did you fail at being ordained properly…!’ Many comments we have all heard in one guise or another. Conversely, many were surprised to learn that as Anglican Deacons we have no option but to be self-supporting – the struggle is real!
I am eternally grateful for fellowship we shared during the week and friendships made, and I look forward to what
the future brings with both those on the margins and those who reach out.
One thought on “A reflection on the Methodist Convocation”
Love this – sounds a rich and valuable time with our fellow deacons.