Just over seven years ago I had the privilege of being part of the team organising the Joint European seminar for Methodist women (as part of my role with the WFMUCW). Around 210 women came here to Glasgow from 21 different European countries to worship, study, create, talk and make friends. It was an amazing few days and many precious friendships were formed – friendships with women just like me and yet so unlike me as we learned about each other’s countries and the role of the Methodist Church as Salt and Light (our theme for the event). You see some of them dancing together here in a Circle Dancing workshop.
Over the last few days, like so many others, I have felt shock and dismay as the implications of Thursday’s referendum sink in – what have we done? Here in Scotland there is a particular feeling of outrage which is understandable… there is much at stake and feelings run high, but somehow we have to keep on joining hands across anything that threatens to divide. We have to find ways to move forward.
As I reflect on our European Methodist family – and especially as I think about the many women I have met over recent years, friends from Poland and Hungary, from Germany and France, from the Czech Republic and Slovakia and so many more – I want to say sorry. Sorry for the hurt which has been caused, sorry for the self-interest which seems to have won the day, sorry for this move towards small-island-nationalism instead of continental-family-life.
I hope and pray that partnership will triumph over politics, that relationships will carry more weight than referendums and that our Methodist and Christian sisters and brothers in Europe will still join hands with us so that we can all continue the dance which will bring in God’s Kingdom in every land, across every barrier.