02 February 2010

February 2010 meeting of the Methodist Council

The Methodist Council met on 1 - 2 February at the High Leigh Conference Centre in Broxbourne. This is the second Council meeting of this Church year. Key themes running through the Council's discussions were relationships and communication both within the Church and with the wider world.

The first major issue tackled by Council was that of the Church's engagement with social media such as Twitter, Facebook and blogging. Council members considered new guidelines for Church representatives in using new media. The guidelines seek to encourage representatives to make creative use of new media, while at the same time they highlight the potential pitfalls of its misuse. The Council has requested further revisions to come to the April meeting before the final version goes to the Conference in June.

Toby Scott, Director of Communications and Campaigns, said, "How we relate to one another and to those outside the church is central to our calling as individual Christians and as a Church. New media presents exciting opportunities for Christians, but it also challenges us to behave with integrity and respect as in all other spheres of engagement."

The Council also discussed the nature of leadership and authority in the Church and whether the Church's current leadership structures should be reviewed. In particular, members considered the roles of President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference. Currently, the President and Vice-President are elected to serve for one year, with the President as a presbyter and the Vice-President as a lay person or deacon. Council members considered the possibility of a new a tripartite 'Presidium', consisting of a presbyteral President and two co-Presidents - one lay person and one deacon. The report will be considered by the Working Group in light of the Council's discussion, and a suggestion that a further option be provided for a two person presidium (one member being a presbyter and the other either lay or a deacon). The final report will go to the Methodist Conference in June for a final decision.

The Revd Ken Howcroft, Assistant Secretary of the Methodist Council, said; "Clear and effective structures of leadership are essential for any organisation, and for the Church it is especially important that our leadership reflects our Methodist identity and our Christian commitment. As we explore this ground together, we don't know what the final version of this will look like, but there is a clear desire for a collaborative leadership, combining the skills and wisdom of our lay and ministerial members."

Other topics discussed at the Council included urban mission, a future strategy for world church relationships, the Church's position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and changes to the Methodist Ministers Pension Scheme. All of the papers discussed by the Methodist Council can be found online here.

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