I am able to say, with absolute sincerity, that joining the Methodist Society (MethSoc) at the University of Birmingham has been both an enriching and deeply encouraging experience for me. From the much welcome hot meals, of which there have been many, to the companionship and communion shared within the group, the society has provided steadfast support during my first year at university.
While I was brought up in a Christian household, I have not had a Methodist upbringing. From this perspective I have been acutely aware of, and benefited hugely from, the openness of MethSoc. I am thankful to bear witness to its inclusivity, which has seen our society join together in meetings with the University of Birmingham’s Atheist, Secular and Humanist society (UBASH) and LGBTQ society. This is undoubtedly a huge strength of MethSoc and makes for a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere contrasting with the more stress inducing aspects of university life. I have been able to explore my understanding of Christianity as a result and even develop an idea of what a future career might involve.
Indeed, it was through MethSoc that I first encountered SCM and attended an event they held on the refugee crisis in Birmingham in February 2016. For me, the best way to demonstrate my discipleship is through engaging in the world. MethSoc and SCM have given me the platform to engage in these pressing issues and practice my faith on a regular basis. Over the last academic year MethSoc has set up a food exchange program, which has involved working with a homeless outreach scheme in Birmingham. I hope to continue these initiatives throughout my university experience and into my adult life.
I am hugely grateful to the society for all that it has given me over the last few months. I would definitely encourage those with a faith or those without to get involved with a society like MethSoc. In a time where people seem to be putting up more barriers, communities like these are a welcome change in what can be a hostile world. A place where all are welcome, a place where people can share ideas without fear of judgment, and a place that values community and each of its members.
A special mention must be added to our chaplain, Andrew Brazier, who optimizes the openness and warmth of MethSoc and never fails to cheer me up. His stories have reached a legendary status among members and will remain a constant source of hilarity for me.
By Mark Birkett, a first year undergraduate student at the University of Birmingham. If you are interested in finding out more about SCM and other affiliated student groups like MethSoc, go to www.movement.org.uk/scmconnect to connect with us.