This article explores the connection between social holiness and social justice. It accepts the view of Andrew C Thompson that ‘social holiness’ in Methodist history has a distinctive meaning which was not linked to, and quite different from, the notion of social justice. However, it argues that encountering grace was not restricted to the gathering of Christians in Wesley's theology or practice and that missional engagement opens another channel or means of grace. Acts of mercy are themselves expressions of and encounters with holiness, so that holiness will lead us to justice and justice to holiness. Social holiness and social justice are, thus, part of a divine ecology where one follows the other in the rhythm of discipleship.
The article tracks the development of a new ecclesial strapline for the British Methodist Church in the period between 2007 and 2014 and assesses the initial impact of the identity on education and ecumenism. It argues that the theme and practice of holiness has been underplayed and underdeveloped in the discourse to find a fresh expression of Methodism’s calling but that there are surprisingly creative elements latent in the expression, especially in a new era of ecumenical relations.