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Four Weeks to becoming President of the Methodist Conference

Dear friends and colleagues,

I write just four weeks before the conference in Birmingham when I become President of the Methodist Conference and the feelings are of excitement and trepidation while being very humbled that I should be given this honour by the church that has nurtured and loved me.

Jill Baker the Vice President and I have chosen the theme for our year, it’s “Day by Day - Exploring the rhythm of mission and discipleship”. We have taken our inspiration from Acts 2: 42-27

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”

You will see part of the reading on the membership cards this year and we have written a 24 hours of prayer booklet and have developed a number of resources to help us in our daily walk with God.

We think this theme gives plenty of scope for worship and a variety of activities around the Connexion. In particular, Jill is keen to explore what pilgrimage can offer to that rhythm of discipleship - both in theory and in action! Her other areas of interest and experience include using silence, leading quiet days, bible study focusing especially on Old Testament women, Local Preacher development and celebrating the World Church. Jill is currently living in Glasgow where she is the Local Preachers’ tutor in the Strathclyde circuit, she is a former mission partner and was President of Methodist Women in Britain 2011-2013. She is married to Andrew a Methodist minister and her son Tim works with ‘All we Can’.

I am focusing on mission and evangelism and wish to spend time with leadership teams, in areas that are tired, areas in the districts that are struggling and feel perhaps they have nothing to give or offer, those challenging places, and I have asked my colleague chairs to send me to the hard places who we want to encourage to think of new ways of being church, while valuing our charisms and traditions and where we would like circuits to navigate change and respond to the missional context in which they are set. My other areas of interest lie in spending time with ministers working in Fresh Expressions of church and worship and any group who want to develop strategic plans for change. I feel it’s important to be committed to telling good news stories and I refuse to buy into the story of decline. I believe that connexionalism is a gift to our ecumenical friends and the communities we serve and that worship is an imperative to our discipleship and faith as that is where we encounter the living God, the place where preaching plays a central role.

We wish in our presidential year to visit as many districts as possible for short 2/3 day visits, sometimes together and sometimes separately and Jill will be in the District over the weekend of the 2nd to the 5th of February 2018. We will be at West Bridgford on Saturday afternoon for the National Candlemas service for the Faith and Light community but nothing else is in the diary yet, so do contact the District office if you want Jill in your circuit that weekend. I am so looking forward to “showing off’ our District and the many great things that are happening, so do get your request in early. Jill is a very gifted person so don't miss out.

Looking at the diary thus far I am going to be able to visit 25 out of the 30 districts and will be doing a variety of things from meeting with pioneers, leading seminars and bible studies, preaching in a variety of locations, spending time with leadership teams and I am honouring the appointments that were in the diary for the District before I knew of my designation as president.

So as you can see it will be a busy year and you can follow my journey on my personal Twitter and Face Book accounts and also on our District Facebook page, along with the President and Vice President blog on the Methodist Church web site. We will also both be contributing articles to the Methodist Recorder. The prayer diary will be available at conference and synod and I know I can rely on your prayers for us both.

It’s going be an exciting year one I never imagined and I look forward to coming back into the District next summer and sharing my journeying.

God Bless

Loraine

© 2017 Nottingham and Derby District of the Methodist Church