'I am with you always'
- sharing in God's mission together at Forum 2018
Ruth Gee writes:
I am writing this Reflection as the Moderator of the CTE Forum which will be meeting in Swanwick from September 17-19th 2018. As a Methodist Minister, I live and work in the north east of England and am a passionate ecumenist believing that we are called to realise the gift of unity already given us in Christ. In that light I want to reflect on the Forum opportunity later in the year.
Knowing that the risen Christ is with me and calls me to follow him is at the heart of my life as a Christian. It is a conviction shared with all my brothers and sisters in Christ: a conviction that knows no denominational boundaries. It is in that light that we shall come together later in the year to consider the theme ‘I am with you always’ and as we shall meet to share what we are learning about God’s mission together.
Throughout England, in our local communities Christians are together in God’s mission, we are responding to local need. We are engaging with community leaders, working with them, and challenging them. We are engaging with MPs and government, often asking the difficult questions. As churches working together, we are supporting asylum seekers and refugees. We are feeding the hungry and working to alleviate food poverty. We are together in our cities, towns, villages and hamlets. We are together as we develop links with the work of Christians and others across the world. We are together in mission and we know that the risen Christ is with us always; always loving, always calling, always challenging and always offering new life and new hope. The CTE Forum is an opportunity for us to gather in the presence of Christ, to share in worship and fellowship, to be challenged and affirmed in our rich diversity and to learn from one another as we are open to give and receive gifts and to the movement of the Holy Spirit among us in our various ministries.
We will have the opportunity to join workshops on a wide variety of themes, for example: the presence of Christ in communities, in music, in conflict, in faith sharing, in the movement of peoples and in human diversity. We will hear from the Presidents of CTE and engage in conversation with them. We will study scripture, led by people from different traditions in conversation with one another. We will meet in small groups for prayer and conversation. We will laugh together, we will pray together and we will undoubtedly challenge and support one another. We will be together with one another and together in Christ who is with us always.
It is difficult to describe how exciting it is to be with representatives from at least 45 different Christian churches and traditions. The CTE Forum is a place where this happens and is a place where each one of us can grow in understanding God. I am so aware that my knowledge of God can only ever be a fraction of the reality of the God whose ways are not my ways and whose thoughts are not my thoughts. I am so aware that my understanding of scripture is conditioned by my context and my upbringing. When I have the opportunity of praying, talking and worshipping with Christians from such a wide variety of contexts I am enriched and my understanding grows. It isn’t always easy because I am often asked to consider different points of view, to listen carefully to the experience of others and this often changes me but it is change that brings me closer to God.
Please make sure that you encourage representatives to attend and we would especially encourage you to send young people to join with us in this wonderful diverse gathering of Churches Together in England. Pray too, for the Forum and the team as we prepare for this large conference, that we shall all appreciate the other as we are ‘together in God’s mission’, exploring the theme, ‘I am with you always’. Thank you.
Revd Ruth M Gee is Chair of the Darlington District of the Methodist Church.
Link to Forum 2018 information: www.cte.org.uk/forum2018