Exminster Methodist Church, Main Road, Exminster EX6 8BT
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, Minister: Rev Ben Haslam, Telephone (01392) 256716
- To broaden and develop our worship, led by the Holy Spirit, to ensure that it is owned by our entire congregation, fully inclusive and open to all.
- To reach out to our village community, working as one with other Christian groups, through the offering of our building, our care and concern for individuals, and our involvement in village life.
- To recognise that we are part of the worldwide church of Christ and to encourage an interest in, and Christian response to, national and international concerns and issues.
The following letter was written by a retired Methodist Minister:
Perhaps it will be useful, both for Methodists and non-Methodists if I write about our Methodist DNA, what makes Methodism distinctive, what makes Methodism tick.
To some extent we’re haunted by the ghosts of John and Charles Wesley, to both of whom we owe a great deal. But we aren’t tied to the past. Since their time things have moved on and much has changed. Methodism has proved adaptable, flexible, and good at reinventing itself.
At the heart of it all is worship, the praise of God, in whom we live and move and have our being. Methodist worship is not dependent on, though not against, set services. But we prefer variety, not just different hymns, prayers and lessons week by week, but also different people in the pulpit (male, female, ordained and lay). Thank God for our local preachers, without whom Methodism couldn’t fill its pulpits (lay preachers were an innovation Wesley initially opposed). We use lay people extensively in our democratic church. Singing is another characteristic of Methodist worship. “Methodism was born in song”, and is still singing the faith - a wonderful way of imbibing theology! And Methodists value preaching, and know a good sermon when they hear one: biblical, thought-provoking, stretching the mind as well as warming the heart. “We have a gospel to proclaim, Good news for all throughout the earth.”
This led to the missionary movement. Wesley famously said: “I look upon all the world as my parish.” That sounds arrogant, but he added, “thus far I mean, that in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right and my bounden duty to declare unto all who are willing to hear the glad tidings of salvation.” And now there are Methodists in most of the countries of the world, as witness the Methodist Prayer Handbook, published annually, an excellent guide for our private prayers, and a means of widening our horizons.
Social concern is another hallmark of Methodism. Wesley cared about people’s health, opening a free clinic for the poor of London in 1745, a remote precursor of the NHS, and publishing “Primitive Physic”. He cared about education, founding Kingswood School in Bristol. He cared about slavery. In the month before he died, Wesley wrote to William Wilberforce, calling it: “That execrable villany, which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature.” From our church sprang Action for Children, Methodist Homes, Methodist Relief and Development Fund, etc.
The structure and organisation of Methodism derive from Wesley. Connexion, District, Circuit, hold the church together, enforcing a strong sense of fellowship and pastoral care. Wesley disliked Christians falling out over matters of opinion, recommended tolerance to one another, and stressed the fundamental importance of Christian love.
All this is part of our heritage, of which we should be more aware than we are. Of course Methodism has its faults, but it also has much of which it can be justifiably proud. I owe more than I can say to Methodism, and I thank God for the people called Methodists.