An open-access article has been published in Anvil journal based on research by SWF Director Sue Miller, Stan Brown and Graham Jones. The article can be read here.
The mission of the Methodist Church
In its foundational documents, the Methodist Church in Britain “ever remembers that in the providence of God Methodism was raised up to spread scriptural holiness through the land by the proclamation of the evangelical faith and declares its unfaltering resolve to be true to its divinely appointed mission”.1 Contemporary Methodism would hold to this calling, though the word “holiness” may not feature quite so prominently as it once did, the Church having shifted its favoured language over time – more recently from the word “discipleship”, which was very much to the fore when this research was initiated, to an emphasis on a “Methodist Way of Life.” The notions of holiness, and wisdom, however, remain fundamental to the Church’s calling and mission, and are fundamental in this project about learning for discipleship and mission, where the term “faith learning” came to encapsulate what was being uncovered in different learning contexts throughout the Methodist Church.
“Faith learning” emerged from the project as a term that conjured up the virtues of wisdom and holiness while also highlighting the processes involved in becoming faithful disciples, holy and wise. Exploring this process of reaching out for wisdom and holiness involves various questions. Can the process be facilitated? Does it need a teacher? Is it enabled by a carefully designed, structured course or does it require a particular and distinctive approach? This paper explores some of these questions in the light of the findings from the research – research that looked at collaborative learning in a wide range of places and projects within Methodism and her ecumenical partners. It reflects on how some of the answers chime with Methodist tradition and Wesleyan spirituality and considers the implications for contemporary practices and initiatives. It also explores how theological action research as a methodology has not only enabled the discernment of these findings but also, through its methods and informing framework, elucidated some of the tensions and insights about the place and nature of learning in Methodist polity and in the fulfilment of Methodism’s mission and calling.
Stan Brown, Graham Jones and Sue Miller (2023) “Does not wisdom call?”: faith learning in Methodist practice, Anvil 39:2. Available online.