26 March 2012

Methodist Church to prioritise education and equality

The Methodist Council discussed the need for the Church to re-invigorate its engagement with the education sector when it met at Royal Holloway College in Egham, 24-26 March.

Currently, 22,000 children attend the 65 state-funded and 14 independent Methodist schools in England and Wales. All the schools have a Christian foundation, serve their local community and are fully inclusive, welcoming pupils of all faiths and none.

"This is an enormous responsibility and we need to take it more seriously as a Church," said Dr John Barrett, Chair of the Church's Education Commission. "But we also have an amazing opportunity, both within the schools that we already run, and with the potential of providing more, either on our own or in partnership with other Churches. This is one way in which we can use our resources and expertise to live out or calling to serve communities across Britain."

Council members discussed a range of proposals to expand the Church's involvement, including offering greater support to Methodists who work in the education sector and appointing more chaplains to further education. The report also recommends that the Church extends its commitment by opening more state-funded schools, especially in areas of socio-economic deprivation. The recommendations will go to the Methodist Conference in June for a final decision.

The Council also received a report on the key principles underlying the Church's work on equality and diversity. It sets out a vision for the Church to increasingly become a community that transforms wider society, challenging prejudice, both within and outside the Church.

"This is a significant step towards creating a more inclusive Church, reflecting the reality of who we are as a family of faith," said Jennifer Crook, Equality and Diversity Adviser. "This is a Christian response to God's love and an outworking of our calling to be people of justice, mercy and grace." Other matters discussed by the Council included pensions, the role of Methodist Districts and the Fruitful Field project, which re-examines the Church's learning and training resources.

The Methodist Conference will meet at Plymouth Pavilions, 28 June - 5 July. For more information, visit the Conference website.

Council papers are online here.  

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