Dear Friends,

I am writng this letter on the eve of a new Connexional Year and in doing so I am profoundly aware
of those circuits and ministers for whom this marks a period of significant change. I am of course
referring to our itinerant ministry and the reality of new ministers matched to new appointments
and circuits preparing to welcome new ministry into their midst. This is a time of great upheaval and
change for all concerned and I would not want to underestimate the level of anxiety that this
sometimes engenders. Indeed, I would want to implore all of you to remember such people and
places in your prayers.

In recent years the principle of itinerancy has occasionally been called into question as that which
sometimes militates against good relationship with an existing context or that commitment to the
principle can cause undue personal harm to partners and family members who may not have signed
up for the itinerant lifestyle! Whilst I recognise these tensions and work with them on an annual
basis as a Chair of District involved in stationing, at a personal level, I am committed to the principle
and have endeavoured to faithfully uphold it in the practise of my own life of ordained ministry. In a
recent Conference Report, there is a statement on itinerancy in which we find the following words;
At the same time, the covenant relationship implies a readiness upon the part of the individual
minister to be open to the needs of the Connexion as a whole at any point in their ministerial

At the heart of itinerancy is the covenant relationship with the Conference that determines the
ministry and mission needs of the wider Connexion at any given time – part of that covenant
relationship is being alert and attentive to the mission of God in the world and being willing to
respond to it and participate in it, as and when the Conference invites us to do so through the
processes of the Church. For me, itinerancy is also a reminder that very little in life and human
experience remains static and unchanging – an unsettling reality that has grown in prominence
through the worst moments of the pandemic and the shifting fortunes of world economies in the
light of utility markets. There are some changing realities that we are powerless to overcome.

To embrace this principle, we must be prepared to embody a costly spirituality of letting go or
relinquishment so that we are able to welcome the new things that God may be unfolding around us
and through us – this applies as much to churches as to ministers. Perhaps from time to time, it
would be no bad thing for the Methodist people (both lay and ordained) to revisit the words of the
Methodist Covenant Prayer;
‘let me be employed for you or laid aside for you’.

Over the years, I’ve become convinced that we cheerfully do the former but struggle to embrace the
latter! As you journey with all God’s people, lay and ordained, you might want to ponder those words
and consider how they resonate for you in this new Connexional Year – what is God calling you to
relinquish and what is God calling you to take up?

With very best wishes,