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Papanui
Christchurch 8053

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Liberal Methodists on the move

Efforts to establish a network of liberals within the Methodist Church have moved forward with creation of a group of email correspondents and plans taking shape for interested folks to meet during Conference in Wellington.

Initiator of the group, Eric Laurenson, reports that people from throughout the country have responded to the invitation to join.

“There has been considerable discussion on a suitable name for the network because of the various meanings and associations of the word ‘liberal’. We will continue to use this as our title for the meantime. Other issues of concern to liberals have also been touched on and we can see there is plenty of work to be done,” Eric says.

“A meeting during Conference this year is being organised and will take place on the Sunday evening at a venue to be advised. Conversations are taking place with the Evangelical Network to see if a meal can be shared with them before the meeting.

“It is clear that there is much goodwill on both sides and a desire to emphasise a common loyalty to our Methodist heritage. Nevertheless, there are points of difference and these will need to be identified and outlined.”

Some of the questions Eric would like to see answered at the meeting include:

How do liberals see themselves? Do they wish to become an identifiable group within Methodism or do they wish to simply maintain a loose association? If they wish to approach Conference with any memorials or notices of motion, some form of association would seem to be needed.

How far are liberals prepared to go? There are issues that if addressed seriously could well bring challenges to the traditional structure and theology of the church.

How do liberals see their relationship to evangelicals? Some people identify with both viewpoints. Would liberals look for a continuing dialogue with the evangelicals outside of the usual Conference and Synod arenas? Do we have to acknowledge that there will be areas of incompatibility? If so, how do we proceed?

Readers who are interested in being part of a liberal network and who wish to be kept informed of developments are invited to email laurensonarch@xtra.co.nz and register their email address.