For the last decade I have been one of the Joint Presidents of the Lincoln Branch of the Council of Christians and Jews. So when of late there have been accusations in the blogosphere that Methodists are anti-semitic because our annual Conference accepted a report on Israel-Palestine which took seriously the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza, I find such attacks hurtful and untrue.
I genuinely believe that Methodists are called to be ‘the friends of all and the enemies of none’. At our best this allows us to stand in places of dispute which are often difficult and demanding, between opposing groups in conflict, where our motives and integrity will be called into question by those whose views on such divisive matters are invariably black and white. Always our vocation is to be true to our understanding of scriptural and social holiness, and to hold out a hand of friendship which seeks to build bridges of trust and understanding.
In no way shape or form is the Methodist Church anti-semitic or racist. As a church we fully support the CCJ and are willing participants. However, this is not the same thing as being uncritical friends of the State of Israel, in much the same way that our commitment to the wellbeing of our local communities does not preclude our Church being highly critical of the current governments spending review which seems to be hitting the poorest hardest.
Today the CCJ stands as a beacon of hope in a world grown distrustful of religion. The fact of our continuing engagement together both as people of differing faith traditions, and as those who are passionately committed to each others wellbeing and vitality, is especially important in today’s Britain.
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