Methodists must provide a voice for the marginalised, says new church president

New Methodist President the Rev Dr Laurence Graham
New Methodist President the Rev Dr Laurence Graham

New Irish Methodist President the Rev Dr Laurence Graham said his church must always reach out to the margins of society.

“We must ever be a voice for marginalised people, here at home and around the world,” said Dr Graham, at the annual conference of the Methodist Church in Ireland last night.

The Dublin-based minister, superintendent at the Central Mission there, said it was “a joy” to serve in “a truly multi-ethnic” church.

Dr Graham, who replaces the Rev Bill Mullally for a one-year term as president, urged his church and congregations to cross sectarian barriers.

He said one of the key decisions that they would make at this year’s Methodist conference is with regard to the proposed new connexional church structures in the Irish church.

“The idea behind these proposals is that they would better facilitate and enable mission through our church.

“However, in all of our talk about new structures and systems to manage for mission let us never forget that the structures for managing mission will not matter if there is no mission to manage.”

Dr Graham recalled: “In 1999, 60 of us from Ireland went to be with the Methodist Church in Uganda. At that time, the church there had only recently begun and there were five congregations.

“The Church in Uganda has lots of structural and organisational problems and very few resources, but the fact is that five congregations in 1999 is 41 congregations in 2017.

“And it’s not just new young churches where we see the same thing. A few months ago I had the pleasure of representing all of us at the bi-centenary of the Methodist Church of Haiti.

“This is a church 200 years old that retains an absolute instinct for mission, whether or not resources are available,” said Dr Graham, urging the church in Ireland to follow the example of others.

• The Methodist conference will continue until Saturday in Trinity Methodist Church, Lisburn.