New Zealand Methodist Church OnLine History
 Go to Index



BREAKING THE CYCLE 1 : A Poverty of Generosity
BREAKING THE CYCLE 2 : The Place of Jesus and the Poor
BREAKING THE CYCLE 3 : The Community of Common Goods
The Pakeha Contribution to Methodism in Aotearoa New Zealand
A THEOLOGICAL ODYSSEY  Part 1 : New York to Zurich
A THEOLOGICAL ODYSSEY Part 2 : From Greenville to the Antipodes


Since his arrival in this country in 1978, the Rev. Dr Jim Stuart has been a presence that exemplifies Methodism at its best. His extensive knowledge of Methodist roots amongst the working poor of England, his well-researched information on John and Charles Wesley and his strong sense of social justice have meant that the church in this country has been challenged at every point to bear witness to the faith that Methodists hold dear.

Jim is a convinced liberal with a conviction that the liberal tradition is something of which to be proud. In the autobiographical articles reproduced herein, one can see the persistent influence of liberal thought on him as he journeyed through the many institutions of learning with which he had contact. Theologians from a wide variety of backgrounds were part of his education but it is those who speak of the breadth of God's love that seem to speak most convincingly to him.

Of particular interest to the Wesley Historical Society is the manner in which Jim blends his knowledge of our history with pertinent commentary on the religious and social situations that face us in today's world. The WHS is firmly convinced that a study of our history is not an optional extra for the church but, as the poet and philosopher George Santayana said, 'those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.' The evolution of Methodism from its earliest beginnings as a reform movement within the Anglican tradition, through the period of consolidation as a denomination in its own right, to the present church with its strong social conscience and pragmatic approach to theology, is something that all of us need to understand. There is much about the church that gives Jim cause for concern but he has an enduring sense of the providence of God that will take our human endeavours and shape them for good.

The articles reproduced in this Journal are arranged in the chronological order of their presentation as suggested by Jim. The first was a series of reflections given in October 2004 at Hamilton for the Methodist Social Services Conference, with the theme 'Breaking the Cycle of Poverty'. An amended version of the document 'Breaking the Cycle of Poverty' was subsequently published.

Weaving the Cloak, the second paper, is the original unabridged version of the paper given at the WHS Conference at Papakura in January 2005. The theme of this important gathering was Weaving the Unfinished Mats: Wesley s legacy

- Conflict, Confusion and Challenge in the South Pacific. A shorter version of this paper was published earlier in the Proceedings of that conference.

Have We Fallen Asleep? presented a Methodist perspective on the subject of ecology to the WHS annual general meeting at the Methodist Conference at Wellington in November 2007. This complemented an address by the co-leader of the Green Party, Jeanette Fitzsimons, who spoke on 'Living within the Limits of Creation'.

In March 2008, Jim gave an autobiographical address to the Otago-Southland School of Theology which described his early voyage of faith and was entitled From New York to Zurich .... We include this as part one of a two-part article A Theological Odyssey. The second part From Greenville to the Antipodes, written subsequently, covers the time leading to his arrival in this country. Jim intends to describe his journey up to the present in a later article.

An informal grouping within the Methodist Church of NZ, 'The Liberal Society', has always enjoyed Jim's enthusiastic support since its inception in 2007. The Liberal Theological Tradition: The Braided River of Faith was prepared in September 2008 as a means of outlining something of the Liberal Society's ethos.

Finally, The Evolution of God: A Theological Typology was a paper presented at the South Island School of Theology at Queenstown in March 2009.

The WHS is deeply grateful to Jim for the opportunity to publish this timely material.

Eric Laurenson 2009