Round Table with Oscar
May 19, 2017

The next fifty

The independence constitution of the Methodist Church in SVG and the region came into operation in 1967. The Federal Headquarters of this new Connexion, which spread through English, French, Dutch and Spanish speaking countries, has been modestly established in Antigua and Barbuda. Quietly, this vehicle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has pursued a pilgrimage with the Caribbean people, building Christian lives, stirring hopes and shaping the communities. At this time of Jubilee therefore, it makes sense to celebrate the Methodist Pilgrimage, evaluate the church’s fidelity to the mission to save the nations, and press on to the mark of the high calling over the next 50 years, God Willing. Methodism must Celebrate, Evaluate, Press on.

From any prophetic Christ-centred mind, the critical question is not ‘What lies ahead for the church in the years to come? That is an unchristian church-centred question. Instead, consider God’s budget provision of liberating salvation and abundant life for the persons and nations of today’s and tomorrow’s sin-structured world, and renewal to the cosmos. When those in love with and obedient to Jesus Christ take hold of that mandate, to implement that budget provision, another

spiritual explosion will shake our world.

Some years ago, Rev’d William Watty made a presentation on the attitude of churches during the period of slavery. To put it simply, slavery was popular among the churches. Dr Watty excavated the complex contortions of Christianity co-con-sa-ing with Kings, Queens, Governments, planters, merchants to enjoy the social economy of this brutal system of extortion, human trafficking and bible-based racialism. The Methodist movement came, however, to take their firm opposition to that ‘inexecrable’ degradation.

That Christian accommodation with colonial evil in our region took place 200 years ago. The evil of today and tomorrow is calling for an even deeper discernment of popular wrong among Christians, because a profession of ‘Spin’ (providing alternatives to reality) is highly developed, respected and widespread, and very much at home in Christian communities. In addition to spotting evil, the further courage to expose it, step away from it and bear the consequences trustingly and without venom, are gifts and witness of the Spirit that is with us. It has to be a Methodist calling to reach out and press towards the abundant salvation that God is bringing about, not just a salvation from personal sin and evil, but also a salvation from structured, embracing evil with comfortable rewards.

The Methodist Bishop Cuthbert Edwards, who leads the church in this sub-region, is very sensitive to the call for a new rising of faith and witness among the flock he serves. Gatherings in the ‘Upper Room’ with willing members are constantly held to frame and affirm a strategic direction and form of government that will fit the faith for the seasons ahead. These are the bare bones and organs of a revival. In addition, somewhere the ingredient of God’s Budget or Vision for our salvation must ignite and give breath to this process. Such a vision of an imminent “Reign of God” with justice and peace was active in the New Testament and that is the mark of the high calling of God today and tomorrow in our vision-poor regional and global neighbourhood.

The next 50 years, God willing, travelling this same path, does not promise abundant life to many of our people, and liberating salvation for the nations of the world. That is why a rising of that God-Expectant faith must make the difference. Is Methodism going to be the midwife for God?