13 April 2015

Church to tackle bullying and harassment

The Methodist Council has pledged to tackle issues of bullying and harassment within the Church. The move is a response to concerns raised about the vulnerability of churches to destructive patterns of behaviour and affirms the desire for the Church to be a safe and inclusive community for all.

"It is uncomfortable and difficult to admit that bullying and harassment do sometimes occur in our churches," said Tony Tidey, Connexional Wellbeing Adviser. "But the decision made today, and the recommendations that will be made to the Conference in July, are something to be proud of. By clearly stating our commitment to addressing this issue, we are calling everyone in our churches to a standard of behavior that should reflect our calling as Christians to treat one another with dignity and respect at all times."

Council members affirmed that bullying and harassment were always unacceptable and that dealing well with these issues in a church context is vitally important.

The Council adopted a set of guidelines for promoting good working relationships and managing Conflict within the Church. It will make a number of recommendations to the Methodist Conference which, if passed in July, will see £140,000 earmarked for developing further work on this matter. The recommendations include the promotion of the guidelines throughout the Church and the regular provision of training and support to District Reconciliation Groups to ensure that they are well equipped to deal with bullying and harassment issues.

The Council, met from 11 to 13 April at Woodland Grange Hotel in Leamington Spa. Other issues discussed included safeguarding, a consultation document on the future of world church partnerships, the Connexional Central Services Budget and how the Church might develop a strategic approach to releasing funds for mission through the sale and lease of property.

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