Brian Edgar Beck (1933-2022)

It is with great sadness that Wesley House announces the death of the Revd. Dr Brian E Beck, alumnus, former Tutor and Principal of the College.

Brian was educated at the City of London School, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and Wesley House, Cambridge. Whilst at Cambridge he met and married Margaret Ludlow and together they had three children.

After his theological education at Wesley House Brian was appointed Assistant Tutor at Handsworth College (1957-1959); he was ordained at the Methodist Conference of 1960 while serving as a circuit minister in Suffolk (1959-1962). He served on the staff of Saint Paul’s United Theological College, Limuru, Kenya (1962-1968) during which time the Methodist Church in Kenya became autonomous from the British Methodist Conference.  Brian was instrumental in drawing up the constitution and standing orders of the new church, many of which still stand, and he is fondly remembered in Kenya today.  Only a couple of weeks ago Brian and Margaret were recalling travelling to Kenya by boat through the Suez Canal, and then their journey home which involved packing their belongings and their children into a small Renault which they then drove from Nairobi to Cape Town!

On his return to Britain Brian was appointed Tutor at Wesley House where he taught New Testament in the college and in the Faculty of Divinity of the University of Cambridge.  He published two books on the New Testament: Reading the New Testament Today (1977 & 1992), and Christian Character in the Gospel of Luke (1989).  In 1980 Brian became Principal of Wesley House before becoming the Secretary of the Methodist Conference in Britain in 1984 until his retirement in 1998.

From 1969 to 2007 Brian shared in the leadership of the international Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies and during this time he deepened his own interest in Wesleyan theology, which, in retirement, he taught to Wesley House students.  Many of his essays on Wesleyan and Methodist theology were collected into a volume published by Routledge in 2017 entitled, Methodist Heritage and Identity.  He also published,Exploring Methodism’s Heritage, the Story of the Oxford Institute (2004) and contributed to Ashgate’s Research Companion to World Methodism (2013).

In 1993 Brian served as the President of the British Methodist Conference, chairing the difficult debate on human sexuality with great wisdom and patience, that resulted in the six resolutions that for more than 20 years held the church together across deep differences. In his letter to the Methodist people immediately afterwards, he wrote, “The Conference had been invited to adopt resolutions which took divergent views of the issues…. in the event, the Conference did not adopt any of those resolutions. Instead it adopted a pastoral rather than a legal approach and decided to affirm both the traditional moral teaching of the Christian church, and the participation and ministry of lesbians and gay men in the church, while leaving decisions about particular cases to be taken by the appropriate committees against this background.”

In 1998, in the year he retired, Brian was awarded the Lambeth DD – a doctorate awarded to eminent and much-published scholars in the field of theology.  He and Margaret retired to Cambridge where Brian continued to serve the connexion in a wide range of capacities, and lead worship in the circuit and in the college until January of this year when he preached his last service at Haslingfield, seventy years after he received his first note to preach.  He was actively involved in college life, teaching Methodism, and on occasion, New Testament Greek.  He looked after the college’s archive and rare books until this summer, only surrendering his keys after the college’s centenary celebrations in July as his health began to decline.

Brian’s spirituality was rooted in the hymns of Charles Wesley.  Of Charles’ work, published as Hymns on the Lord’s Supper in 1745, Brian wrote in 2007 in the Epworth Review, “gratitude is due, not just for the book and its contents but, in the communion of saints, for the one who wrote it… who in the offering of his own poetic gifts exemplified his own words:

Take my soul and body’s powers,

Take my memory, mind, and will,

All my goods, and all my hours,

All I know and all I feel,

All I think, and speak, and do;

Take my heart but make it new”.

Brian also exemplified these words, offering his considerable powers of memory, mind and will, dry humour, kindness and wisdom to the church in the many offices he held, as a scholar, as a liturgist, as a preacher and as a teacher. 

His choice of funeral hymn, (by Charles Wesley, of course), assures us, as his presence with us has for so long, that all is well:

I rest beneath the Almighty’s shade,

My griefs expire, my troubles cease;

Thou, Lord, on whom my soul is stayed

Wilt keep me still in perfect peace.

He died peacefully at home in Cambridge on 18 November in the 90th year of his age and the 66th year of his ministry.

Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission Communique on the Plenary Meeting in October 2022

The Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission (MERCIC) met at the Casa Maria
Immacolata, Rome, Italy, from 2 nd -8 th October 2022, for the first plenary meeting of a new round of
dialogue. The Commission has met without interruption since its foundation in 1967 and now begins
its twelfth round on the theme of unity and mission. The gathering was hosted by the World
Methodist Council with the Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome as the local meeting organizer.


The Commission met with a broad agenda of mission and unity, conscious of the forthcoming
anniversary of the Council of Nicaea, the current needs and developments of both communions, and
the pressing need for unity between us “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21). In order to discern
its focus for this round of dialogue, the Commission heard papers on: scripture texts from John 17
and Acts 15; the Missio Dei; hearing the cry of the poor; the Council of Nicaea; synodal and
conferencing practices within our communions; the implications of mission for belief; recognition;
the Wesleyan essentials; and the hierarchy of truths. On the basis of these contributions, the
Commission developed a schema for its future work which will seek to chart a pathway towards unity
with a missiological lens, taking account of the theological convergence that the dialogue has already
achieved.


The Commission began its meeting on 3 rd October with prayer at Ponte Sant’ Angelo Methodist
Church in Rome, praying the historic Wesleyan Covenant Service together. Commission members
were joined by ecumenical representatives and members of the diplomatic community. The Rev.
Prof. Edgardo Colon-Emeric preached the opening sermon on Ephesians 4, stating the ecumenical call
is perennial, hopeful, and missional. Following the prayer service, the Rev. Deacon Alessandra Trotta,
a Methodist deacon currently serving as the moderator of the governing council (Tavola Valdese) of the Waldensian Evangelical Church (Union of Methodist and Waldensian Churches), addressed the
Commission, describing the current ecumenical challenges for Methodists in Italy as well as the
special union between Methodist and Waldensian churches in Italy. Additionally, Rev. Prof. Daniele
Garrone and Rev. Luca Baratto, respectively the president and the executive secretary of the
Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy, shared with the Commission members the work of the
Federation.


On Wednesday 5 th October, the Commission met Pope Francis in a private audience and presented to
him the report of the eleventh round of dialogue—God in Christ Reconciling: On the Way to Full
Communion in Faith, Sacraments and Mission. Commenting on the parable of the two sons (Luke
15:11-32)—the text chosen by the Commission for its scriptural reflection—Pope Francis noted that
both Catholics and Methodists need to repent and return to the Father in order for unity to come
about, because through their divisions, both have sinned and strayed from the Father.


The Commission met H.Em. Cardinal Mario Grech and Sr Nathalie Becquart XMCJ, Secretary General
and Undersecretary respectively of the General Secretariat of the Synod, on 5 th October. Following a
shared meal with Commission members, Cardinal Grech and Sr Nathalie explained the current
progress of the synodal process being pursued by the Catholic Church and how ecumenical and inter-
religious voices constituted an important part of the Catholic Church’s listening to the Holy Spirit.
Commission members shared about Methodist theologies of conferencing and discernment,
expressed their hopes and fears for the process, and discussed their own experiences of the synodal
process thus far.


On Thursday, 6 th October, H.E. Chiara Porro, the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, and her
spouse, Mr Rien Schuurhuis, hosted the Commission for dinner at their residence. Over dinner the
Ambassador explained aspects of the Embassy’s collaboration with the Holy See regarding questions
of environmental justice, the dignity of women, and counter human trafficking.


On Friday, 7 th October, the Commission launched the report of its eleventh round, God in Christ
Reconciling, presenting the text as the first of a new series of Tillard Chair Lectures on the theme of
reconciliation, held at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas in Rome
[https://youtu.be/B8C35EFJPhk]. The Rev. Prof. Edgardo A. Colón-Emeric, Prof. Catherine E. Clifford,
Dr Clare Watkins, and the Rev. Dr Hermen Shastri, all members who participated in the eleventh
round, presented chapters of the report. The current Catholic co-chair, Bishop Shane Mackinlay, read
a message from the previous co-chairs at the beginning of the presentation.


At the closing dinner on 7 th October, Fr. Anthony Currer, outgoing Catholic co-secretary, was
recognized for his distinguished service to the Commission as he concludes his tenure at the
Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity. Fr. Martin Browne OSB will succeed Fr. Currer as the new
Catholic co-secretary.


The Commission is grateful to all who met with them and received them so graciously during their
plenary meeting. In particular, the Commission extends its gratitude to the community of the
Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul and all who work at Casa Maria Immacolata for their
gracious hospitality and to the Methodist Ecumenical Office Rome for their excellent organizing.


The Commission will meet again in October 2023.

The Commission is made up of:


Methodist Members
Reverend Prof. Edgardo A. Colón–Emeric (Co-Chair), USA
Reverend Matthew A. Laferty (Co-Secretary), Methodist Ecumenical Office, Rome
Dr Jung Choi, Korea/USA
Dr Geordan Hammond, United Kingdom
Bishop Lizzette Gabriel Montalvo, Puerto Rico
Reverend Prof. Glen O’Brien, Australia
Reverend Dr Hermen Shastri, Malaysia
Prof. Lilian Cheelo Siwila, South Africa


Catholic Members
Bishop Shane Mackinlay (Co-Chair), Australia
Reverend Anthony Currer (outgoing Co-Secretary), Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, Rome
Reverend Martin Browne OSB (incoming Co-Secretary), Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, Rome
Prof. Catherine E. Clifford, Canada
Reverend Prof. Gerard Kelly, Australia
Sister Prof. MarySylvia Nwachukwu DDL, Nigeria
Reverend Prof. Daniel Franklin Pilario CM, Philippines
Reverend Prof. Jorge Scampini OP, Argentina
Dr Clare Watkins, United Kingdom

MWM Conference & AGM 2022

The World is My Parish – Global Methodism Our Future online conference and AGM takes place Saturday 24th September 2022 from 9.30-13.00 online with a keynote address by Bishop Ivan Abrahams, General Secretary of the World Methodist Council. He has served as the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of South Africa. Bishop Ivan has provided prophetic leadership and direction. He is a renowned ecumenist and advocates for social justice.

MWM AGM will take place from 12:30-13:00.

Please register for the half-day online conference by completing this form. YOU MUST REGISTER IN ADVANCE by 17th September 2022

Thursdays in Black ambassadors: “we cannot be silent” about gender-based violence in faith communities

In a joint message on gender-based violence, sexual abuse, and faith communities, 26 World Council of Churches (WCC) Thursdays in Black ambassadors lament that the scourge of sexual and gender-based violence continues unabated—and call on faith communities to prevent such violence in their own spaces.

“As ambassadors for Thursdays in Black, and in our various leadership capacities, we have witnessed the increase in domestic and gender-based violence, including child marriage, in many countries during the COVID-19 pandemic, arising out of necessary movement restrictions and economic uncertainty,” reads the statement. “With the rise of digital communication, there is increased online sexual abuse and harassment with devastating effects on individuals, families and communities.”

The statement urges us all not to be silent. “We lament that far too many times, those who bravely come forward to share their stories are not believed, are shamed, are blamed, or are ignored,” the text reads. “Too many times we have seen victims silenced and perpetrators unpunished.”

The ambassadors note that they are heartened by the global growth of the Thursdays in Black movement and the visible solidarity shared across faith traditions to overcome rape and violence.

“We call on our faith communities to take the next step in practical action to ensure such violence does not happen in our own spaces,” the statement reads. “Following the WCC central committee recommendation, we invite all faith communities to state their commitment to overcoming sexual and gender-based violence, clearly and publicly, including the policies and steps they will take when abuse is reported.”

Access to support and justice for survivors must be integrated in our responses, the ambassadors urge.

“We welcome religious and theological reflection and education which interrogates our holy scriptures on the relationships between men and women and masculinities and femininities, our understandings of gender and gender identity, and our relationships with all people as part of humanity, the text concludes. “We encourage all people of faith to join us in Thursdays in Black to raise awareness and advocate for a world without rape and violence.”

Read the full statement

STATEMENT ON THE ST. FRANCIS CATHOLIC CHURCH MASSACRE IN OWO, NIGERIA

The World Methodist Council (WMC) joined religious leaders, civil society organizations, and
governments in condemning the coordinated attack on worshippers at St. Francis Catholic Church.
According to the latest reports, as many as 50 may be dead, including children, and scores are wounded.


Bishop Ivan Abrahams, General Secretary of the WMC, said: “Gunning down innocent people
celebrating the Feast of Pentecost is a cowardly and sacrilegious deed.” He further expressed
condolences to the bereaved families and called for prayers for those wounded in the attack.


The WMC notes the increased number of attacks and kidnappings by armed groups, especially in the
northeast of Nigeria, where more than 40,000 have been killed and more than a million people
displaced.


We urge the Nigerian authorities to act decisively in apprehending the perpetrators to see that
justice is done through the courts