New Methodist Vice President calls for woolly boundaries

The new Vice President of the Methodist Conference has called on the Church to be more visible, to take risks and to stress the spiritual rather than offering rules and regulations. In his inaugural address to the annual Methodist Conference, Mr Coates said 'too many of us see our church as a place of refuge from the world, a place to be kept as untouched as possible from outside contagion.'

Instead, he said, the church should recognise that this 'messy, complex and certain world is God's world. Jesus did not run away or hide from the mess; he embraced it.' Dudley also said that Jesus 'did not send people away if they failed to come up to conventional moral standards. His policy was that 'all are welcome'. That policy ought to be our Methodist policy.'

Dudley, who retired from a senior civil service position five years ago, will serve one year as Vice President of the Conference, the highest Methodist Church position open to the laity. He will travel widely to visit Methodist groups across Great Britain, and will also undertake some overseas visits to see work supported by the Church.

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