The Rev Sonia Hicks has given her maiden speech as the newly elected President of the Methodist Conference.
Her speech and induction took place on Saturday 26 June at the National Conference Centre, Birmingham, during the Methodist Conference which is taking place in hybrid form this year.
Sonia, who is currently Superintendent Minister in Wembley, comes from a long line of Methodists as far back as her great-grandfather who was a local oreacher in Jamaica, has served as a Circuit Superintendent in three connexions: Britain, the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and Americas and the Methodist Church in Ireland (MCI).
In her Conference address Mrs Hicks focused on her theme for the year, "God's Table: An Invitation for All", reflecting on the racism and marginalisation she and her family have experienced and how the Church can respond to injustice and division in society today.
She recalled the experience of her Great Aunt Lize, who had arrived from Jamaica with her Methodist membership card only to be rejected from her local Methodist Church because she was black.
Sonia and her family eventually found a Methodist home at Walworth Methodist Church in South London.
"In a world where people are excluded because of their ethnic background, their sexual orientation, their gender or simply because, like me, they were brought up on a council estate, I believe that we are called to show God's love for all people. It is a calling that Christian people have always struggled with, but we can and should be better at making God's love a reality in the British Methodist Church, overcoming the systemic discrimination that exists."
Sonia has long been involved in the fight against injustices which began when she was a member of the Youth Exchange to Zimbabwe.
She has been Convenor of the World Relief and Development Committee for MCI, and has served as a Trustee for both All We Can and Christian Aid Ireland.
Looking to the future, the President said: "As Christians we are to mirror the grace and the mercy of God. We are to find ways of issuing God's invitation of acceptance to those we meet on a daily basis. No ifs, no buts.
"I believe that there is a place for all in the presence of God, at God's Table. But, as we acknowledge that everyone has a place, we also must acknowledge that we will therefore live with the tension of not all thinking the same. We will also have to recognise that living with such tension is never the easy option."