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Methodist leader urges politicians 'to meet halfway'

By Alf McCreary

The outgoing president of the Methodist Church has appealed for politicians at Stormont and Westminster to "meet each other halfway" to promote peace and reconciliation.

The Reverend Bill Mullally recalled his recent visit to the Messines battlefield in Belgium saying: "I was moved by the recollection of the soldiers of the 36th Ulster Division and the 16th Irish Division fighting alongside each other."

He added: "I call on those politicians recently elected to Stormont and Westminster to meet each other halfway for the good of all and to ensure that we reinstate the institutions in Northern Ireland to build a bridge of peace and reconciliation.

Last night the Methodist Church installed the Reverend Dr Laurence Graham as president in succession to Reverend Mullally.

The ceremony took place in Fisherwick Presbyterian Church, Belfast, and because of the close ties of the Methodists and the Church of Ireland under their joint covenant, three Bishops took part in the ceremony.

The Reverend Dr Graham, who is 48, is one of the youngest presidents of the Irish Methodist Church.

He is the son of a former president and general secretary the Rev Winston Graham.

Dr Laurence Graham was educated at Dalriada School and Queen's University. He is currently the superintendent minister in the Dublin Central Mission.

In his presidential address, the Rev Graham outlined his hopes.

He said: "I am really glad that a lay mission strategy is coming to the Methodist conference this year, and that its vision is to promote and communicate effectively the Methodist Church's vision of every member ministry."

The theme of this year's Methodist conference, which is taking place in Trinity Methodist Church in Lisburn, is 'The Rhythm of Grace'.

Members and delegates will consider a wide range of issues affecting the Church and society.

On Sunday evening four people will be ordained to the Methodist ministry at a service in Fisherwick Church, which marks the end of the four-day conference.

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