12 April 2010

April 2010 meeting of the Methodist Council

The Methodist Council met on 10-12 April at Royal Holloway College, University of London in Egham, Surrey. This is the third Council meeting of this Church year. A key theme running through the Council's discussions was the vision of Methodist heritage in its past, present and future forms.

A major issue addressed by Council was the 2009 Methodist Conference commitment to establishing the Church's position on the situation in Israel and Palestine. The Council approved a report submitted by the Israel Palestine Working Group for presentation at the 2010 Methodist Conference. The report gives guidance on how to take action to promote justice and peace. One of the report's resolutions encourages Methodists to write to their MPs, MEPs and Government ministers and call for urgent help to be given to people who are suffering as a result of the Occupation. It also encourages Methodists to visit Israel and Palestine through the help of agencies that convene meetings with Palestinian Christians engaging in respectful dialogue with Jews and Muslims. Another resolution supports the World Council of Churches 2009 call for an international boycott of Israeli goods from illegal settlements.

The Church's carbon reduction project was also on the agenda. The Council accepted a report identifying how established policy and practice impacts on the carbon footprint of the Methodist Church and how reductions could be made to reduce the Church's carbon footprint in line with the Government's targets of 80 per cent reduction by 2050. The report included recommendations that Methodist Circuits be encouraged to fund Government sponsored smart driver training among lay workers, ministers and preachers where appropriate; that local churches sign up to Hope in God's Future pledge and that changes are made to Standing Orders in order for energy performance and energy efficiency requirements to become mandatory for church buildings and manses.

Thaddeus Dell, Carbon Reduction Policy Officer for The Methodist Church, said: "The risks and impacts of climate change and the responses to tackle it are increasing. It presents the Methodist Church with both a theological and practical challenge. The recommendations seek to encourage an enabling framework to make it easier to implement carbon reduction in the key areas that will maximise benefits whilst tackling other significant impacts."

Methodist Heritage was also discussed. The Council backed resolutions to financially support four key heritage sites - Wesley's Chapel in London, John Wesley's Chapel in Bristol, The Old Rectory in Epworth and the Englesea Brook Chapel and Museum of Primitive Methodism near Crewe - whose preservation, the report stated, link heritage to mission.

Jo Hibbard, Methodist Heritage Officer, said: "I am grateful for the huge support of our work over the past year which I and the Methodist Heritage Committee have received from the Council today, particularly the appreciative remarks referring to the new Methodist Heritage Handbook. I am delighted that we have been given such a strong and positive mandate today to develop opportunities for mission offered by our historic sites and the use of our collections as fresh expressions of heritage."

Other topics discussed at Council included the audit committee annual report, the Connexional budget, safeguarding, Equality and Diversity, Wesley College Bristol, the review of the Resourcing Mission Office, fundraising, ministries learning and development, social media, Epworth press and the new Methodist hymn collection.

All the papers discussed by the Council can be found online here: www.methodist.org.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=opentogod.content&cmid=3050.

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