24 January 2012

Church makes progress on Equality and Diversity

The Methodist Church has made significant progress in addressing equality and diversity issues within its own structures, the Methodist Council heard at its first meeting of 2012. Methodists working on a new equality and diversity structure for the Church have drafted a theological statement that will form the basis of inclusive policy within the Church.

The Methodist Council agreed to give more time to stakeholder forums shaping the Church's response to equality and diversity when it met at Methodist Church House in London on 23-24 January.

Jennifer Crook, Equality and Diversity Adviser to the Church, said: "There is so much exciting work that is going on. The purpose of the theological statement is to ensure that the Church's equality and diversity agenda is firmly rooted in Biblical values and core Methodist beliefs, so that when people ask us, 'why are we doing this?' we can say, 'this is what we believe in the Methodist Church: we do equality because it is at the heart of what we know and do in the Methodist Church.' There is a long history of equality, diversity and social justice issues within the Church."

The theological statement, which is likely to be presented to the Methodist Council in March, has been drafted following lengthy discussions by the working groups in partnership with members of the Church's Faith and Order committee who advised the groups on questions relating to Arminianism and the Methodist tradition.

The Council, made up of representatives from all over Britain, also discussed pensions, state-funded schools, a new 'dignity at work' policy and refurbishment work to the Methodist International Centre in London.

Council members agreed to create a Methodist Academies and Schools Trust (MAST) in order to comply with the Government's new Education Bill, which received Royal Assent on 15 November last year. They also approved a development bank loan of up to £2,800,000 for the refurbishment of the educational rooms at the Methodist International Centre. Some of the rooms are expected to be refurbished in time to offer hospitality during the Olympics.

Note: The Methodist Council meets three times annually to undertake ongoing work on behalf of the Methodist Conference, which is the governing body of the Methodist Church. Methodist Conference 2012 will take place in Plymouth from 28 June to 5 July. 

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