Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Working Together

I received an email from someone concerned at the Methodist Church's involvement in an inter-faith event. There were lots of angles from which I could choose to answer him. One that I didn't use was the question of whether attempting to cooperate with other faiths wasn't simply a waste of time - in terms of getting stuff done (like social upliftment). Working together is a noble goal, but so often we don't get it right even when there are two or three Christian Churches in the same suburb. To think that we can get it right on a larger scale may be optimistic.
But thinking about this and, having just been to a Circuit Quarterly Meeting, I was encouraged by what the Methodist Church does actually get right. For those who do not know, our societies are grouped into circuits, by geographical area. So our Church in northern Randburg forms part of the Fourways Circuit. We don't do much strategic stuff together - churches tend to be too independent. But we pool finances to support people who work for the good of the circuit. The ministers and pastors meet together regularly. The more wealthy societies help support the poorer societies - often paying for probationer (student) ministers to pastor work in them. The circuit is also a point of accountability for ministers and societies and will carry out any disciplinary measures required.
So often we are irritated by politics and long boring meetings and we see circuit stuff as a waste of time. Yet I'm not sure if any other denomination has such an effective structure in place.
It will be interesting to see how the circuit in Grahamstown operates.


Steve Hayes said...

The main interfaith action I'm involved in is the Southern African Fath Communities Environment Institute, where I run a blog at SAFCEI, with little or no support from the other members.

I'm also involved in an interfaith discussion forum called Religionrap where the discussion is quite lively. Join us if you are interested!

Rock in the Grass (Pete Grassow) said...

When we think that we alone have the monopoly on faith we become arrogant and spiritually smug..

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny,
It was good to get a message from you. This reply is not related to your post, but more just to say 'HI' and hope you are all well. I am keeping well. I am married to Kim and we have 3 awesome boys. Look forward to catching up soon.
Take care

Thomas O. Scarborough said...

Now you're making me jealous. But there are also some people I'd like to send you for your circuit to sort out. ;-) I'm most familiar with the inter-faith Damietta Peace Initiative: www.damiettapeace.org.za/