The church does not have a monopoly on God but must serve humanity with extravegant hospitality and humility, the new Vice-President of the Methodist Conference has told Britain's annual Methodist gathering.
Deacon Eunice Attwood spoke of her own experience of poverty and of her current work with vulnerable women in the sex industry. She also spoke of her own closeness to death under emergency surgery in 1992, and the "life changing" spiritual experience that involved.
Attwood called on the Church to recognise the transforming power of God’s love and to act and speak in ways that communicated this in word and deed - not least in relation to those marginalised within society.
Speaking at the annual Methodist Conference in Portsmouth, she declared that at the heart of the Christian message was the affirmation, “God loves you.” But this love is as much as challenge as it is a gift.
Deacon Attwood continued: “If the Church is to be a sign of God’s kingdom, it must participate in the world that God loves. For the Church does not have the monopoly on God. God is already at work in people’s lives, in the world he created and sustains. In being sent into the world we get to join in with what God is doing. In the doing and engaging we meet God.”
She encouraged the churches to take seriously their calling to serve communities in the spirit of God’s love, declaring: “I want to be part of a church that throws parties for prostitutes - a church that welcomes those who seek asylum, a church that longs and yearns for justice, a church that listens to those no-one else wants to listen to.”