Welcome back as a new term at Queen's approaches and I prepare to head up the M1 to a Welcoming Service for a Student - who begins her ministry in Leeds at the start of this new year in the Methodist Calender - I thought I would return to blogging and flag up some of the upcoming events this Autumn and also some of the happenings over the Summer.
The Spycam debacle that I referred to in a previous post has continued running over the Summer with new revelations about the inappropriate and duplicitous nature of the process. A meeting organised by the West Midlands Police Authority in at the Boardsley Centre at the beginning of August, that was due to help heal rifts between the community and the police seemed to me to do the exact opposite! Check out the latest on the Spycam campaign at http://spyonbirmingham.blogspot.com/ including a report by Steve Jolly and videos of last month's meeting.
The Methodist Report and Conference resolutions on Justice for Palestine and Israel has continued to have an impact upon Christian engagement with the issue and there have been movements towards dialogue about the report between local Methodists and the Jewish community in particular. At next Saturday's synod I intend to outline how I see us as a District working towards the call of conference to 'engage in respectful dialogue with Jews and Muslims on this issue'
After having a month off from preaching in the circuits I'm back on the road next Sunday in the Birmingham West and Oldbury Circuit. I'm running a number of courses and groups this autumn in the Asbury and Elmden Circuits and a number of one off workshops including one for preachers in Evesham and one for the Regional Evangelists and Missioners Network. There is a healthy number of students on the 2nd year course on Christianity in Dialogue at Queen's. We hope also to launch a new course in the Spring term on 'The Common Good in Christianity and Islam' with students from Queen's and the Islamic Al Mahdi Institute working together on the module. Richard Sudworth will be co-tutoring with me and tutors from Al Mahdi. I will also be working with Celia Blackden of the Inter Faith Office of Churches Together in England on a proposed National Conference hosted in Birmingham in March 2011 on 'Faith Hope and Love - Christian Discipleship in a Multi Faith World' - watch this space for further details.
Lastly I would like to flag up an interesting new resource that Richard drew my attention to from the Fuller Theological Seminary in the USA. Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue is a new online Journal available on free download which affirms the exciting developments I've talked of before in the more open section of the evangelical wing of the church that helps break the dualistic split in some understandings of Christian discipleship between witness and dialogue and the tired old categories of liberal and conservative theological positions on interfaith - check it out!