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Graphic tale of Methodist values

What does it mean to be Methodist in Aotearoa today? What are our core values? Can we contribute to society with key Gospel insights?

Methodist Church of NZ ministry development director Rev Dr David Bell says often people in parishes around the country – especially young people – raise questions such as these.

To answer them and provide a simple statement of Methodist beliefs, David coordinated publication of a booklet, ‘The Values We Live By: How the Methodist Story has Evolved in New Zealand’. It was unveiled and distributed at Conference 2007.

“The booklet was designed to be a basic resource. It is meant to be a clear, concise summary of our history, theology and values in an attractive format. It was also meant to be readily available for everyone so we printed enough copies for every member of the Methodist Church and those Uniting Congregations with Methodist components. But already we’ve run out,” David says.

“It2s a low-key but effective tool for getting Gospel values into the wider community. I2ve noted that the Wesleycom Missions are asking for stockpiles to use in staff training and orientation.”

The booklet features woodcut images by Wellington artist Craig Watson, who attends Trinity Union Parish in Newtown, and photos by Touchstone graphic designer Julian Doesburg, David says Craig's artwork links Methodism today with its roots by putting John Wesley into a variety of New Zealand scenes. He appears at Moeraki Beach on the front cover, as well as at Lake Tekapo, the Beehive, Wellington Hospital, and a kava ceremony.

“The booklet was a major opportunity to do something that hadn2t been tackled for years. It wasn’t done in isolation. Our church needed a variety of linked resources that could meet different needs at different levels.

“At the next level is the larger study book The Wesley Brothers: A Story for our Time. A copy of this went to every parish earlier this year. In it Rev Dr Keith Rowe summarises John Wesley2s life, times and theology, Rev Dr Terry Wall writes about Methodist spirituality, and I write about Charles Wesley. This book is also available in the second year course for worship leaders and lay preachers,” David says.

“At the tertiary level is the Methodist Studies course, which presents articles and essays by Maori and Pakeha Methodists.

“These resources are tightly integrated. You can begin with the Values booklet. Study it. Think it over. Talk it through in your parish and be prepared to share copies beyond the church when appropriate.

“Later on you might want to deepen your knowledge, stretch your theology, and come to a new appreciation of our place in the Methodist tradition by working from one resource to the next.”