Here is round one of my personal reflections on the MERM consultation that I have just attended. This is the stuff that 'spoke to me'. There will be other later that made me 'think'. I'm afraid some of this is vague - somethings are difficult to blog about in detail.
Firstly, the conference was a time of deep healing for me of wounds that I just did not know that I carried. I really need to focus on allowing that healing to 'take' and to remember this moment. I feel so reinspired to be a 'good' Christian and I can sense God's love and grace for myself and others in a way I haven't felt for years. I am so humbled and challenged and afraid that I can't live up to this.
Secondly, I have become aware of the real damage that is done by labelling each other - particularly within the Methodist Church. I know that I and others in presenting the Evangelical position have been labelled Fundamentalists, which is not fair and is not the same thing. Beyond that, there is the sense that all Fundamentalists are judgmental and graceless and that again is not fair - although we all know people who are like that. I realised that many people who take the label 'liberal' are not liberal in the sense of the 19th century liberals, but are often more dogmatic about their position than Evangelicals. Our labels in the Methodist Church are not helping!
Thirdly, I was so affirmed by meeting people who think like me. They were intelligent, deeply committed, loving Christians. I feel I am in good company (although I may have a way to go to be like them!) I have read Ken Schenck from Indiana Wesleyan University for some time and have enjoyed his thoroughly Wesleyan position. Martyn Atkins from the Methodist Church in Britain encouraged me so much with his intelligent and reasoned understanding of Evangelicalism. I am not alone!
By the way, the key speakers were Rev Dr Martyn Atkins who is general secretary of the Methodist Church in Britain and has been principal of Cliff College for some years. Also Ross Olivier, our seminary president and also a former general secretary of the MCSA. There was also an address by Rev Norman Raphahlela from the Education for Ministry and Mission Unit (part of the MCSA structure).
God is good!