Spring Council Report
14 April 2016
Methodist Council Meeting
2 to 4 April 2016
Woodland Grange, Leamington Spa
Chaired by the Revd Ruth Gee
Impact of 'Mapping Way Forward: Regrouping for
The 2015 Conference, by way of Notice of Motion 2015/204
had requested research into the impact of the Mapping a Way
Forward: Regrouping for Mission initiative. The initiative,
which has been underway for almost a decade, has seen a move
towards larger circuits. The majority of the 570 circuits that
existed in 2007 have been affected, with over half being merged
into 374 circuits by 2014.
The research report indicated that the process had been
generally positive. However, as the level of responsibility
has increased some circuits now need paid staff to undertake duties
previously done by volunteers. Superintendents can be reluctant to
offer for very large circuits. There is also the need to
undertake research into any reduction in diversity as a result of
Connexional Central Services Budget
Debate was held around the need to give the Conference
options for calculating the Methodist Church Fund (MCF) assessment.
Three options will be put to the Conference: to increase MCF
by 1%, to decrease MCF by 1% or to freeze at the current level. The
assessment, to be implemented from September 2016, would be in
place for three years.
Code of Conduct for Ministers
A paper was presented in response to one of the recommendations of
the Past Cases Review, proposing a code of conduct for ministers.
The working party will bring a draft code to the Methodist Council
in January 2017, in order that it might be presented to the 2017
Flexible working for ministers in appointments in the
control of the Church
The Council approved guidance to enable flexible working
for ministers who are serving in appointments in the control of the
Church. The new guidance will be published on the Methodist
Ministries Committee Report
The Committee proposed revisions to the selection criteria for
ordained ministry that will be put before the Conference.
Mission Alongside the Poor Programme
The review of the Mission Alongside the Poor Programme
was presented to the Council. The review examines the issues facing
today's poor and the churches that support them. Discussion
was had regarding a revised name that maintains the definition of
the programme's objectives but reflects the changing priorities and
language of poverty. The committee recommended the title "Methodist
Action on Poverty and Justice". The report will be placed
before the Conference for consideration.
Consultation paper: Methodist Ministers Pension
It was put to the Council that future increases in
pensions be linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rather than
Retail Price Index (RPI). A consultation with members showed
the majority were in favour of the change and the resolution was
passed by the Council.
A report on safeguarding within the Church was presented. An
increase of staff within the connexion Safeguarding team was noted
as a response to the workload from the Past Case Review. It
was also reported that legislation has increased the scope of
safeguarding in relation to the protection of vulnerable
The Council agreed the principle that Districts should have
adequate and appropriate levels of safeguarding advice and support.
In agreeing this principle, the Council agreed to direct the
Team, in consultation with District Chairs and District
Safeguarding Officers, to undertake work on the practical and
financial implications. It was commended to the Conference
that fully costed proposals for achieving professional supervision
for District Safeguarding Officers, including the use of suitable
volunteers, be presented as part of the 2017/18 budget.
The report from the Resourcing Leadership Working Party
recommended the establishment of a Connexional Vocations Officer to
ensure appropriate support and highlighted the need to research
barriers to participation and how they can be overcome. The
Connexional Secretary will now take steps to implement the
recommendations within existing budgets and headcount.
Marriage and Relationship Task Group
The Marriage and Relationship Task Group are due to
report to Conference in 2016. While the group has not yet indicated
any intended resolutions, a small scrutiny group consisting of the
Revd Eleanor Jackson, Revd Peter Sheasby and Ms Gill Dascombe were
appointed to advise on the appointment of any further working
parties or task groups.
Reshaping the Yorkshire Districts
A proposal was accepted by the Council that the circuits
and Districts Synods of the 4 Yorkshire Districts ( West Yorks,
Leeds, Sheffield and York & Hull) be consulted about the
possibility of a reshaping and reduction from four to three
new Districts to be effective from September 2017 . A detailed
proposal will be brought to the Council in October 2016
Report from Strategy and Resources Committee
The report noted the Chair of the SRC and the Secretary of the
Conference were satisfied that the Methodist Academies and Schools
Trust (MAST) are seeking to support state funded Methodist schools
and explore ways forward in the light of recent announcements
regarding schools becoming academies.
Property Development Committee
The Council agreed the terms of reference for the
Property Development Committee, which is to be established to
develop a strategy ensuring buildings are used for the most
efficient missional purposes.