Media Highlights - The Methodist Conference 2017

The Methodist Conference 2017 is meeting in Birmingham to discuss matters affecting the life of the Church, the nation and the world.

Media are invited to attend the Conference or to arrange interviews with key people on the issues being discussed.

Media Contacts:
Email mediaoffice@methodistchurch.org.uk 

Lead Media Officer: Michael Ivatt
Tel 020 7467 5191

Media Officer: Toby Fairclough
Tel 020 7467 5208

Director of Publishing and Communications: Andy Jackson
Tel 020 7467 5111

Press releases on featured topics will be posted on the Methodist Church website during the Conference.

Highlights will include:
Timings indicate in which session the item of businesses is expected to be discussed.

The Induction of the new President and Vice-President and the opening of Conference
Saturday 24 June, 14:15

The Gift of Connexionalism in the 21st Century
Monday 26 June, 09:15 - 11:00
One of Wesley's most enduring gifts to the Methodist Church, Connexionalism and its relevance in the 21st century.

Past Case Review Implementation 
Monday 26 June, 14:15 to 16:15
The Methodist Conference will announce the significant progress that has been made following the 2015 report into non-recent abuse within the Church.

3Generate
Tuesday 27 June, 16:45 - 18:30
The on-going success and growth of the Methodist Church's 3Generaete children and youth events.

Supervision
Wednesday 28, June 16:45 - 18:30
The introduction of "social worker style" supervision for ordained ministers and the first of its kind within a UK Christian denomination.

Statistics for Mission
Thursday 29 June, 9:15 to 11:00
Responding to a report that membership of the Methodist Church is undergoing a 3.5% decline year on year but shows growth in inner-city churches and youth participation.

The Beckly Lecture 'Religious Freedom:
A God-given right, not a privilege
'
Tuesday 27 June, 20:00 to 21:45
His Grace Bishop Angelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, considers religious freedom and justice.

The Methodist Conference is the body that agrees policy for the Methodist Church. Gathering lay and ordained members, along with a number of associate and ecumenical members, the Conference is split into two sessions. Beginning with the Presbyteral Session, exclusively for ministers of the Methodist Church, from Thursday 22 June - Friday 23 June, with the Representative session from Saturday 24 - Thursday 27 June, which is also open to the public.

The Representative Session will open at 14.15 on Saturday 25 June with the induction of the President of the Conference, the Revd Loraine N Mellor, and the Vice-President, Mrs Jill Baker. 

Biographies of Loraine and Jill are available here in the Methodist Church press pack 2017/2018.

A provisional timetable for the representative session of the Conference is available online here, but may be subject to change. 

Further details on selected topics being discuss at the Conference this year are:

The Gift of Connexionalism in the 21st Century
The Conference will be hearing of the importance of one of Wesley's most enduring gifts to the Methodist Church, Connexionalism and its relevance in the 21st century. Defined as "belonging, mutuality and interdependence", and still using its eighteenth century spelling, Connexionalism remains fundamental in defining a Methodist's way of being Christian. The three hundred year-old concept of "being connected" where no individual or local church is autonomous can speak powerfully and fruitfully in the 21st century with social media and the internet.

Safeguarding and Past Case Review
The Methodist Conference will announce that significant progress has been made following the 2015 report into abuse within the Church. The 23 recommendations of the Past Cases Review are now all underway with a change in culture within the Church having a positive impact on safeguarding. Almost 80% of the 1,885 cases that came to light as part of the review have now been completed and those remaining are hoped to be completed later this summer. With its work now underway, the Past Cases Review Implementation Group, has handed over responsibility for on-going safeguarding work to the Safeguarding Committee.

The independent Past Cases Review considered all safeguarding cases for which there were written records and those recalled from memory by ministers and members of the Church going back to 1950. The review was described as modelling best practice in its openness and honesty regarding past failures in safeguarding. An implementation group was established in 2015 to ensure that the 23 recommendations made in the report were actioned.

3Generate success 
The ongoing success of the Methodist Church's 3Generaete youth events will be discussed with requests from young Methodist people to help them understand an increasingly confusing, and sometimes, worrying world. The Conference will be responding to the calls from young people themselves for guidance and debate around issues of social justice and relationships. The growth of 3Geneate will see its annual event move to larger premises this year at Pontins, Southport. 

Supervision
The Methodist Conference will consider the introduction of "social worker style" supervision for its ordained ministers. Such a programme of one-on-one support would be the first of its kind within a UK Christian denomination.

Supervision was recommended within the Methodist Church's Past Case Review (2015) as a way to increase support and accountability for safe. The supervision will also provide vital, planned pastoral care to value and nurture ministers by providing them with appropriate support, guidance and training.

Statistics for Mission
As highlighted by the Revd Loraine N Mellor in her Presidential address, the Methodist Conference will be considering how to respond to a report that membership of the Methodist Church is undergoing a 3.5% decline year-on-year with headline membership now standing at 188,000. 

The report also highlights areas of growth within the Church with many inner-city churches having seen membership numbers grow. The number of events and activities other than worship at churches continues to grow, with participation at around half a million people each week. Growth is also reported in the Methodist Church's youth movement, 3Generate.

Beckley Lecture
Religious Freedom: A God-given right, not a privilege
Tuesday 27 June 8pm - 9.45pm
As part of the fringe events taking place at the same time as the Conference, His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom discusses religious freedom and justice. Copts in Egypt constitute the largest Christian community in the Middle East, as well as one of the oldest, and have experienced violence and persecution including the recent bus attack in which 26 people were killed.

Notes:

The timetable, agendas, live stream of the event and more information is available on the Methodist Conference website www.methodist.org.uk/conference

You can follow the Conference conversation on Twitter via #methodistconf and by following @MethodistGB. Please note that the comments and opinions do not necessarily represent the Methodist Church's views or position.

Photos of the President-Designate and Vice-President Designate are available on the Methodist Media Flickr Stream here. 

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