The October meeting of the Methodist Council

The Methodist Council met on 13-14 October at High Leigh Conference Centre in Hertfordshire. This is the first of three meetings planned for the current Church year.

Issues discussed included the impact of current financial turmoil on the Church, climate change, the shape of the Church's ministry and deployment, and the setting up of research and strategy projects for the coming year.

The Council endorsed the formation of a climate change and theology working group, to produce a report on climate change from ethical and theological perspectives. The group will be made up of representatives from the Methodist Church, United Reformed Church and the Baptist Union of Great Britain. Their report will focus on the need for both individual and corporate action, particularly in terms of the national Churches' environmental policies. It will be presented to Council in April 2009, before going to the Methodist Conference in July.

There were lengthy discussions on the nature of ministry in the Church and in particular the distinctive Methodist processes involved in candidating, training and serving as a Methodist minister. Members of Council considered issues such as how to more easily identify and make use of the distinctive gifts of ordained ministers and how to encourage and promote lay discipleship.

The Revd Ken Howcroft, Secretary for Methodist Council, said; 'This is a complex issue that affects the whole Church as it is renewed for worship and mission. Our current practices have been in place for a long time and determine the nature of Methodist ministry. They affect how ministers are placed around Britain and their experience of serving in the Church. As we seek to fulfil our calling and serve the present age, we need to seek a way forward that can be people-centred and flexible, whilst still retaining those features that make us distinctively Methodist.'

The Council also received a report on some of the consequences of the recent financial turmoil on the finances of the Church. Connexional Treasurer Ron Calver recommended that hasty decisions not be taken and that any detailed judgements affecting the Church's finances be made next year when the financial situation has become clearer and there has been time to consider some of the long-term issues.

The Council is also responsible for approving the work plan of the Church's Connexional Team. Projects approved for the coming year include further research on alcohol use and health warnings, a study guide on early human life and establishing a Methodist Heritage Committee.

The council will next meet on 16-17 February in High Leigh.

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