There are a number of other blogs I read regularly mainly of the merry band who label themselves Methodist Bloggers and there are often some interesting and possibly controversial articles that appear. Some of them are to do with the way Methodism works , how ministers are stationed for instance and I am sure there are many members who have stories they could relate regarding all sorts of things that have happened in the past.
Because I am not a 'dyed in the wool' Methodist (my super's words) I often ask questions about the way we do things - some quite silly like why do some churches stand while others sit when the offering is brought forward and others more to do with the rules and regulations which govern us (CPD) like do we really need so many rules?
In 1982 I went to conference in Plymouth following a fairly meteoric rise from door steward to church council member to synod member and then representative to conference. I was very fortunate in that I sat next to a minister from our district who guided me through what was going on and swiftly took me out of the room when any 'boring' business came up (usually finance or property related). At the time I had been unemployed for around 9 months and one of the debates was about unemployment when a number of well known Methodists spoke in the debate about the whole issue of unemployment and as speaker after speaker got up I sat and got more upset all the time because I wondered how many of these folk had any real experience of unemployment. If it were now with the benefit of age and experience I would have been down to the podium to challenge what was being said, but of course then I was still 'wet behind the ears'and just sat and seethed.
I still get a little annoyed by some things that go on at the highest level and I don't always agree with the decisions of conference or what the 'official spokespeople'say on my behalf, but then I suppose there are a lot of members who don't agree either. I have to say though that I accept the governance of the church and will comply with the decisions where they affect me.
One thing I do find is that members at our churches will often mention things that are in the news from a Methodist perspective and one of these issues is the discussion surrounding a new hymn book and of course I was at conference when the current book was approved. Many people have raised this matter and it seems to me that there are a number of things that seem to be coming up in these conversations. I list them in no specific order and think that they are points that are important to the folk sitting in our conversation week by week.
1. Do we really need a new book?
2. In some churches they will comment they already have a number of books and this just seems silly.
3. We have only had this book a few years (26 actually but of course not as long as the previous one).
4. We know very few hymns in the current book so why have a new one?
5. We have projection equipment so do we need a new book?
6. Can we afford a new book?
I suppose at some point the issue of a new hymn book will come back to districts, circuits and local churches but ther is perhaps some food for thought in the points above.