20 April 2002

First lay person appointed as Local Preachers' Secretary since Methodist Union

The Methodist Council has appointed Peter Relf as the next Connexional Local Preachers' Secretary, with effect from 1 September 2002. This is first time since Methodist Union in 1932 that the appointment has been made to a lay person.

The Wesleyan Methodists had appointed the first Connexional LP Secretary, Arthur Button, a lay person, in 1923. After Methodist Union in 1932 the Methodist Local Preachers' Department came into being with Arthur Button as Secretary. His retirement in 1937 caused considerable dissent when the Connexional local preachers' committee recommended that his successor should be a minister. Since that time the post has been occupied by a Presbyter, even though in recent appointments it was open to applications from either lay or ordained persons.

Peter Relf comes to the post with considerable experience in education and as a local preacher. At present he is Training and Development Officer for the Nottingham & Derby and Lincoln & Grimsby Methodist Districts.

Peter has served on the Local Preachers' Studies & Examination Board as its Education Advisor. He is a local preacher in the Mansfield Mission Circuit, having been first accredited as a Local Preacher in 1971. He brings considerable expertise in preaching, training, education, and music to the role.

His appointment has been warmly welcomed by the outgoing Local Preachers' Secretary, the Rev Peter Barber, who hands over to Peter at the end of August. The new appointment is for an initial period of six years.

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