New President of Methodist Conference promises 'a year of radical grace'

By agency reporter
July 1, 2018

The Rev Michaela A Youngson has been elected and inducted as the new President of the Methodist Conference, taking over from the Rev Loraine N Mellor. The induction took place on Saturday 30 June.

It is the first time in the history of the Methodist Church that a woman has been elected to succeed a woman President. During the ceremony, the new President receives a Bible that was used by John Wesley.

During his lifetime John Wesley chaired the Methodist Conference but after his death the Conference determined to elect a President annually.

Michaela was ordained in 1997 and is one of the Chairs of the London District. She is a regular contributor to Pause for Thought on BBC Radio Two, Chair of Trustees for Methodist Central Hall, a trustee of Making Herstory and a trustee of Southlands College.  

Having chosen ‘radical grace’ as her theme for the year, Michaela is looking forward to helping the Methodist Church consider the radical nature of God’s grace and the ethic of hospitality and love-centred mission that flows from that grace.   

During her Presidential address, Michaela commented: “God’s grace is radical. It goes beyond what is only fair, to a prodigious reckless generosity. It is prevenient grace, which flows from the Lover’s desire to see the beloved flourish, to be whole and to live in delight.

“We need to let go of our tendency to ‘niceness’ and, prompted by just how uncomfortable God’s grace is, make a nuisance of ourselves again in the market place and in the public square, refusing to remain silent in the face of systems that reinforce injustice, and oppress vulnerable people.”

Bala Gnanapragasam, the newly elected and inducted Vice-President of the Methodist Conference also spoke. A Trustee at Christian Aid and former Labour Councillor, he shared emotive stories that looked at the importance of inspiring hope and challenging injustice.

Reflecting on hope, Bala said: “Hope is vital, and it is right at the heart of our faith. I want to engage in the sort of listening and conversation that makes friendships, builds communities, and encourages hope.”

Bala spoke of his passion for social justice: “We face poverty and injustice at every point of our lives and in every place. So I ask myself constantly: 'Can this be what God wants for his people?'

“A church that abandons the poor is no longer the church of Jesus Christ and we do abandon the poor if we don’t challenge these ideas.

“But in the middle of this apparent hopelessness, I know that God must be doing something – changing things, calling us to new journeys so we have to be ready!”

Mr Gnanapragasam gave his address to an audience at the Conference which included friends from Sri Lanka celebrating the first Sri Lankan Methodist to be made Vice-President of the British Conference.

The Conference is the body that agrees policy for the Methodist Church. It meets annually as a group of 306 representatives, along with a number of ecumenical and World Church associate members. This year's Conference is being held at the University of Nottingham from 28 June to 5 July 2018.

* The Methodist Church


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