Methodist Conference 2011: Sell-Out Fringe Event

The Board’s Senior Vice President met the new President of the Methodist Conference in the first week of his taking office, as the two communities look to build new and stronger relations following a series of painful resolutions on the Middle East conflict at last year’s conference which brought relations between the Jewish community and the Methodist Church close to breaking point.

To take relations forward, the Board of Deputies, the Methodist Church in Britain and the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) co-organised a packed fringe event at the Methodist Conference in Southport on 4 July. No less than a third of the Conference delegates attended a model Seder, hosted by the Southport Hebrew Congregation, which focused on the common origins of the Jewish and Christian faiths, and encouraged further dialogue and deeper understanding between the two communities. Rabbi Saunders of the Southport Hebrew Congregation presided over the event, with a Christian theological response from Reverend James Booth, Chair of the Liverpool District of the Methodist Church. The Methodist guests also had an opportunity to visit the historic synagogue, and view the Board’s Jewish Way of Life Exhibition, which will remain in Southport to be visited by hundreds of local schoolchildren over the coming weeks.

The event was a significant step in the right direction, improving mutual understanding between Methodists and Jews. It follows dozens of dialogues between local Jewish and Methodist communities around the country, promoted by the Board, the Methodist Church and the CCJ. In these conversations, the Jewish communities have sought to deepen relationships and offered a more balanced perspective on the conflict in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Speaking after the event, Board Senior Vice President, Jonathan Arkush, said, “After the painful resolutions last year, our communities are demonstrating a commitment to bridge-building that is bearing real fruits. This event was a key stage in the development of stronger relations, and a better understanding of the need for genuine dialogue before taking positions on the complexities of the Middle East.”

Christine Elliott, Secretary for External Relationships at the Methodist Church, who also spoke on the night, said, “Hospitality graciously given is one of life’s enduring pleasures and to be received with such generosity by the Jewish community in Southport was a delight. The meal we shared together was one where representatives of out two communities could take time to sit together, talk, laugh and begin to hear each other. A rare gift.”

David Gifford, Chief Executive of the CCJ, said, “The Seder is such a fundamental part of Jewish life, colourfully explaining the memory of God at work in His people with which Christians can readily identify. The demonstration Seder was a unique opportunity for the Methodist Conference and Jewish community to come together. It was practical interfaith dialogue at its best.”

I want to reiterate my appreciation for all that you did and continue to do. It was a big challenge and your rose majestically to the occasion. Everyone has been commention on how you struck exactly the right tone. The only complaint was from the translator, who couldn’t hack your pace!
Seder meal Meth Rec articlepdf