26 June 2021
At the end of a challenging year, which has prevented them from meeting Methodist people in person, the President and Vice-President of the Methodist Church have commissioned a tree of hope at The Queen’s Foundation in Edgbaston.
Unfortunately, due to the current coronavirus travel restrictions in central Birmingham the President the Revd Richard Teal and Vice President Mrs Carolyn Lawrence could not be present when the tree was planted. Instead the plaque, bearing the message: “‘The best of all is God is with us’ (attributed to John Wesley). Planted in hope on 26 June 2021” was handed over to the Prof. Clive Marsh PFHEA, Principal of The Queen’s Foundation at the Methodist Conference venue.
This year’s Methodist Conference meets from Thursday 24 June to Thursday 1 July. It is taking place at the National Conference Centre, The National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull.
This prayer was said when the plaque was handed over at a small celebration at 13.15 on Saturday 26 June at the front entrance of the National Conference Centre:
God of earth and air,
soil and water,
seed and branch,
we praise you
for your constant presence with us,
especially through the pain
and the challenges
of the Pandemic.
We praise you
that your love
can never be locked down,
and that you have been at work
bringing comfort and hope
to all in need.
May your life-giving Spirit
surround us now
as we commemorate this moment
and pray for new life
where there has been hurt and loss.
In the name of Jesus
The President of the Methodist Church, the Revd Richard Teal said, ‘In a challenging year for everyone may this tree be a sign of hope, new life and resurrection. May it also be a sign to those people at The Queen’s Foundation of how ministry can flourish when well rooted and be a symbol of the fruitfulness of God’s kingdom.’
Prof Clive Marsh said, ‘Richard and Carolyn have had tough years as President and Vice-President respectively, as have churches and society as a whole. I like this act of defiance – which both respects nature, even as it acknowledges the way that nature has been disrupted over the past 15 months. Planting a tree to say “we will carry on!” is a sign of hope. And as we, at Queen’s, look at the tree as it grows in future years, we will be reminded not only of the year’s difficulties but also the new things we have learned and the hopefulness that the tree signifies.’
The Vice-President of the Methodist Church, Mrs Carolyn Lawrence said, ‘This tree is a sign of hope for the future. As the prophet Jeremiah wrote. ‘Blessed is the person who trusts in the Lord; whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream…it never fails to bear fruit.’ My prayer is that as we put our hope and trust in God even during difficult times, we will know the love of Jesus and be given the strength to bear fruit for the Kingdom and share his love with all we meet.’
Phoebe Parkin, Youth President of the Methodist Church said ‘The planting of this tree is a poignant reminder that there is always hope in God, and that hope can be seen in the beautiful creation God has blessed us with. I hope that we will continue to be a people who share God’s hope through caring for creation.’