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.