01 July 2021
Justice, Dignity and Solidarity
The Methodist Conference has voted to adopt a far-reaching Strategy for Justice, Dignity and Solidarity, underpinned by Methodist theology, which will see “a profound change in the culture, practices and attitudes of the Methodist Church”. As it is rolled out, the strategy will support Methodists with issues of equality, diversity and inclusion, with the aim of becoming a Church in which God’s unconditional love is expressed in word and actions and where all people are able to play their part.
The strategy’s recommendations include a celebration of the richness of the Church’s diversity and opportunities to learn more of God, and to be changed by God through encounter with each other across the Church. Comprehensive training on topics of racism, gender, disability and LGBT+ awareness will be mandatory for anyone in a leadership role. The strategy will also introduce moves to ensure that the leadership of the Church reflects the diversity of its membership. A series of structures, processes and practices will be put in place to ensure that people are treated with justice and dignity and that the discipline of the Methodist Church is upheld in the face of discrimination; preventing, challenging and redressing all behaviours which are discriminatory or belittling.
The strategy includes mandatory actions for local churches, circuits, districts and the Methodist Council which are all designed to embed a culture of respect for all, as equal partners in the Gospel. The implementation of the strategy will be supported by EDI Officers across every sphere of Church life.
Through this work, Conference aims:
- for the rich diversity of people within the Methodist Church to be recognised as a cause for thanksgiving, celebration and praise;
- to eradicate all discrimination and coercive control within the Methodist Church, and for all people to be treated justly and with dignity across the breadth of the Methodist Church;
- for a profound change in the culture, practices and attitudes of the Methodist Church so that all Methodists are able to be full participants in the Church’s life.
Jonathan Hustler, Secretary of the Methodist Conference, commented: “I warmly welcome the Methodist Conference vote to adopt the Strategy for Justice, Dignity and Solidarity. The Methodist Church has a long history of being an advocate for social justice and challenging injustice.
“As a Church, we have made significant progress across all protected characteristics. However, discrimination on issues of race, sexuality, gender and disability remains a major challenge. The adoption and implementation of this strategy will enable us to become a more fully inclusive Methodist Church and will include organisational, structural and cultural changes required for us to say in truth that all are welcome.”
The Revd Sonia Hicks, the new President of the Methodist Conference, commented: “Diversity, in all its forms, is a gift from God and I am pleased that this strategy will help us, as a church, to be more intentional in acknowledging and celebrating that gift.”
Bevan Powell, Equalities & Diversity Adviser for the Church, commented: “We call upon every Methodist, in considering this report, to think about themselves, their own prejudices and about how this strategy will change the exclusion that some people, including people we love as well as people we don’t even know, may have experienced in the past.”