03 July 2002

Conference chooses Anglican talks member as next President

A member of the formal conversations between the Methodist Church and the Church of England is to be the next Methodist leader, it has been announced today.

The Rev Dr Neil Richardson is to be President of the Methodist Conference in 2003. He is currently Superintendent Minister of the Leeds North East Circuit of the Methodist Church and a former Principal of Wesley College, Bristol.

At a crucial time in the developing relations between Anglicans and Methodists, the election of Dr Richardson could be seen as a vote of confidence for the steps being taken to bring the two churches closer together.

The President of the Methodist Conference is the most senior office held by a minister in the Methodist Church. The President chairs the annual Methodist Conference, the main decision-making body for Britain's 325,000 Methodists.

Dr Richardson has been elected President-designate by the 380 representatives attending the Methodist Conference meeting in Wolverhampton this week. He will serve as President for 2003-4.

As well as being a Superintendent minister, Dr Richardson is also minister in charge of Lidgett Park Methodist Church. He previously served in churches in Oxford and Manchester and was New Testament Tutor and Principal at Wesley College, Bristol.

Dr Richardson is a former Chair of the European Theological Commission, and is currently Secretary of the British Committee of the World Methodist Council. He is married to Rhiannon with has three sons and enjoys marathon running and armchair football.

Child safeguarding expert becomes Vice President

At the same time the Conference has chosen as its next Vice President one of its guiding lights in developing Methodism's child safety policy.

Mrs Judy Jarvis is the Church's Children's Secretary. A former primary school headteacher, Mrs Jarvis has been responsible - together with colleagues from other Churches - for setting up the new Churches Agency for Safeguarding. She helped to draft the Methodist Church's own child safety policy, 'Safe from Harm', which has become a pioneering blueprint for children's work across the Churches.

The Vice President is the most senior office held by a lay person in the Church, working closely with the President during their year in office.

The daughter of a Methodist minister, Mrs Jarvis was born in Alvechurch, Worcester in 1940. After studying at Southlands College, London, she taught in schools in Walsall, Stafford, and High Wycombe, Bucks. She was headteacher at The Meadows Combined School, High Wycombe.

In 1989, Mrs Jarvis became the Methodist Church's Divisional Secretary then Training Secretary for the former Division of Education and Youth. When the Methodist Church Connexional Team was established, she became Children's Secretary.

Mrs Jarvis is the author and editor of many publications including Big Blue Planet and Roots, a new ecumenical resource for worship and learning. She is married to Eric with two grown-up sons and is a local preacher in the High Wycombe Methodist circuit.

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