Pastoral Letter - November 2019

From Revd Catherine Bowstead

Dear Friends,

The Methodist Conference this year spent a lot of time discussing “God in Love Unites Us” the report of the Marriage and Relationships Task Group. This report has now been commended to the wider Connexion for study and prayerful reflection. The report covers topics such as:

  • the qualities of good relating
  • an understanding of co-habitation
  • celebration of civil partnerships
  • prayers following the end of a marriage
  • allowing same-sex marriages to take place in Methodist Churches

The report containing these resolutions is now to be discussed locally and then voted on by District Synods in the spring.  A report will then be sent back to Conference for a decision next July.

One way of coming to a decision is to use the so-called “Wesley Quadrilateral”.  This is a method whereby the four elements of Scripture, experience, tradition and reason are each used to examine the topic in question in order to reach a balanced and sensible conclusion.  It’s a helpful method to use in decision making and as you read the report you will see how the task group have implemented it to reach their conclusions.  I would urge you to do the same as you study the report, you may find it challenging or refreshing, you may agree with much of it or find that you disagree with the findings but I ask you to read the report in its entirety with an open mind.

These are very significant discussions and as some people find these subjects highly emotive such conversations can easily become highly charged, so it’s important that we conduct these conversations in a loving and respectful manner.  The Methodist Church acknowledges that we live with “contrary convictions” on these matters, and whatever the church decides there will be some people who will be very disappointed.  Therefore, the way in which we discuss this and the way in which we continue to work together after the decision is made will be vitally important for the future of our denomination.

It is important that everyone has the opportunity to read the report and share in the discussions if they wish. All the resources can be found on the Methodist Church Website: but there will be some paper copies of the report available too.

There will be some study and discussion sessions around the Circuit in the New Year.  At Wokingham these are likely to be on Sunday evenings 19th Jan, 16th Feb and 15th March.  Further details of other days and venues will be available nearer the time and you will be very welcome to attend discussions at another of our circuit churches if you wish.

With every blessing,