Methodist Church celebrates ethnic inclusion
A project promoting and celebrating ethnic inclusion across the Methodist Church comes to an end this week.
The Belonging Together project was a response to the "Towards an Inclusive Church" report presented to the Methodist Conference in 2010.
Over the last three years, the project has sought to affirm values of inclusiveness across the Methodist Connexion through new resources and ways of working together.
Churches have been encouraged to be intentional about ethnic diversity in leadership and stationing decisions in order to be consistently inclusive.
This includes developing and implementing strategies that enable the contribution, representation, access and participation from people from all backgrounds.
The Reverend David Shaw, minister at Wesley Methodist Church, said the project had initiated the momentum for change at the church.
The church had a time of visioning and prayer at an open Church Council meeting and from this, developed a 12-month plan for change that has impacted who is involved in the welcome, worship and leadership of the local church.
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The Reverend Jane Earl, secretary to the Church Council, said: "Belonging Together gave us the tools and the impetus to have conversations in a range of places within church about the skills and background of all of our congregations in the context of our hopes and dreams for the Church for the future.
"We've been working on three themes: to develop our worship and music life, to develop our welcome to those who come new to the church and to those who have been with us for some time and to develop and maintain our work with young people."
The Revd Katei Kirby, Partnership Officer for Belonging Together, said: "The Methodist Church in Britain is one of the most ethnically diverse churches in the UK, and that is something to be celebrated. This three-year project gave the Church the opportunity to see what could happen when people of all ethnic backgrounds are encouraged to become and belong.
"As the project closes, the Church now has the responsibility to continue to be intentional and deliberate about ethnic inclusion, so that the rich diversity of the whole people of God is both visible and sustained."
The Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church, said: "The end of this project should mark the beginning of a more excellent way of being an ethnically inclusive Church, and I invite us all to help make it so."