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MODEM UK is planning a Book Club by Zoom. Our next meeting is on June 1st 2021 from 7.30 pm to 9.00 pm. The book to be considered is Margaret Heffernan’s ‘Uncharted,’ in which she ‘explores the individuals, organisations and mindsets that aren’t daunted by uncertainty but seize the challenge of making the future for themselves.’ We’ll be discussing chapters 4-10.

You can join the book club by registering with Eventbrite at:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/reading-between-the-lines-modem-zoom-book-club-uncharted-part-2-tickets-154547177769

2020 Conference: Beyond Blame: Accountability Now?

The 2020 annual conference, run in association with the Susanna Wesley Foundation, took place online on Tuesday, 1st December.

The background to the conference was the awareness that there is understandable scepticism that the social and political structures that affect everyday life can be held to account. It is not difficult to find poor performance that hasn’t been challenged, systemic problems that are repeatedly investigated without real change and public policy that lets down those most in need.

This day conference looked head on at the challenges of accountability whilst opening up our own work to the same questions. Three people in positions of being held to account and holding others to account were asked to open up about the challenges they face:

Christine Allen
Director of CAFOD
Vic Rayner
Executive Director of the National Care Forum
Marvin Rees
Mayor of Bristol

Alongside this Dr Helen Cameron (Practical theologian and Research Associate, Centre for Baptist Studies, Regent’s Park College, Oxford) summarised some of the current academic thinking about accountability and relate it to themes in Christian theology. We were asked to consider: What are the things for which I am accountable and who can hold me to account?

Accountability challenges can be found existing in supply chains, complex committee structures, flexibility of earnings, delegating to others, structures playing off against each other. Different interests are at stake that are not often balanced well with each other.

Christine Allen drew out the implications of subsidiarity in its aim to hold power at the lowest and most appropriate level. The Industrial Revolution has given us wealth, but at the cost of the planet. The choice of what to do with our resources is the real issue, thus creating a place for the preferential option for the poor as some people need to have specific care and the recognition of the injustice they face.

Vic Rayner asked what is the focus of accountability. Policy development has contributed to this along with an awareness that there are many stakeholders. Accountability is working out what you need to answer to. Quite often, reform can be long term and the capacity to achieve needs to be considered. Accountability is always done with others, and those with whom we have a relationship may have different values and priorities to us. However, working together creates power, but courage and fear are part of the use of this power.

Marvin Rees helped us to see how invisibility can lead to unaccountability. Where the dynamic of accountability lies needs to be discovered, and we are accountable to truth, not people. If there is no diversity, how can we get to the truth? Hope, rather than optimism, in the face of realism is what is needed.

Rev Mike Long, Notting Hill Methodist Church, London, offered a closing reflection linking the day’s presentations to his experience of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. He challenged us to think about how blame can fitting and necessary in a limited way, but only goes so far as everyone has responsibility. The identification of truth needs to happen before healing can happen. Jesus was blamed and crucified by those who abdicated responsibility, but he brought forgiveness and new life.

Key issues were drawn from these speakers and participants were given an opportunity in small groups to reflect upon them.

This conference was for everyone involved in organisational life and leadership – both those within churches and faith organisations, as well as those within secular organisations, as are all MODEM conferences.


2019 Conference

MODEM’s 2019 Conference, in partnership with the Susanna Wesley Foundation, was held at Sarum College from lunchtime on Thursday, 21st – lunch on Friday 22nd November, and built on the ideas generated at 2018’s conference. Entitled ‘Losing Control – Enabling Withness’, we explored ideas that Sam Wells has been developing in ‘A Nazareth Manifesto: Being with God’ (2015), ‘Incarnational Ministry: Being with the Church’ (2017) and ‘Incarnational Mission: Being with the World’ (2018), and how these can relate to ideas from organisation studies about emergence and non-imperialistic forms of organising and non-control. We related these ideas to experience and wisdom from local churches. A Nazareth Manifesto has been described as ‘nothing less than a call to rethink Christian witness and mission, based on a profound re-telling of our relationship with each other and God’. This conference was an opportunity to think together about how church organization might better facilitate such a retelling. The ideas follow on naturally from our consideration of witness in the 2017 conference and asset based community organization in the 2018 conference.

Speakers included Sam Wells, Nic Beech and Paul Hibbert. Click here for more information, or watch Sam speaking about ‘Being With’ here:

Book Reviews

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We regularly provide reviews of newly published books that are relevant to leadership, management or ministry. Check out our book review page.

Archbishop of Canterbury supports MODEM’s work

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“The work you do in bringing together perspectives on leadership and ethics from church and commerce is immensely valuable and I am grateful to you for developing these channels of communciation.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd & Rt Hon. Justin Welby sent MODEM a letter of “warmest good wishes” for its 20th anniversary conference in 2013. He challenged MODEM to continue its work with a reflection on “the love of Christ urges us on…” from 2 Corinthians.
You can read the full letter in a special conference issue of MODEM Matters.