29 June 2017
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI): a central agenda for the Methodist Church
The Church's history of its journey towards inclusivity is, and always has been, central to its understanding of what it means to be disciples witnessing to and sharing God's love.
The 2017 Methodist Conference, meeting in Birmingham from June 22-29, passed a resolution that confessed the sin of racism, and in seeking to confess that sin, recognised the considerable amount of work still required by the Connexion in order to achieve greater equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).
This develops the long, active and pioneering tradition of engaging with EDI issues which effectively started 89 years ago when work on gender justice was taken to the 1928 Wesleyan Methodist Conference.
The report from the EDI Committee recognised that even though the membership of the Church is declining, its diversity is increasing. In the London District, for example, it is estimated that more than 66% of members had their places of family origin outside the UK.
The Conference agreed to urge all churches, Circuits, Districts and Connexional bodies to engage with the EDI Toolkit, to take steps to enable the Church to become a 'more inclusive and multicultural community of faith' and has requested the Methodist Council to implement measurable plans with timelines, backed up by a progress report to the 2018 Conference.
The Revd Stephen Poxon, Chair of the EDI Committee, said: "The Methodist Church has come a long way since the 2010 Conference report Towards an Inclusive Church moving beyond ensuring that we meet our legal duties to a focus on a model of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) that is rooted in the principle that all humankind is made in God's image and therefore worthy of dignity and respect.
"We still have a long way to go on this journey, as highlighted in the 2017 Conference report from the Methodist Council 'The Unfinished Agenda'. However, EDI is woven into a number of the 2017 Methodist Conference reports demonstrating that this is a central agenda for the Church."
The EDI Toolkit looks at the law, theological underpinning, age, class and economic justice, disability and impairment, gender, race, sexual orientation, same sex couples and their families, poverty, being made in God's image, domestic abuse and most recently the definition and guidance about homophobia, which was adopted by the 2016 Conference.
The toolkit is designed to support the discipleship and mission of the Methodist Church and enrich the life of the Church in seeking to equip Methodists to go beyond legal compliance, being based on the principle that all humankind is made in God's image, and therefore worthy of dignity and respect.
It's also about the gospel values and behaviours that Christians and Methodists want to share with the wider communities in which they live, work and serve.
• To find out more, please visit the EDI section of the Methodist Church website.