07 July 2011

Methodist Conference draws to a close after a week of worship, debate and celebration

The 2011 Methodist Conference has drawn to a close in Southport after six days of prayer, worship and debate. The annual Conference is the governing body of the Church and meets in difference venues each year.

More people than ever before followed the events and business of the Conference, with live video from the debates streamed over the internet on the Methodist Conference website. At its peak, 180 people tuned in to watch the proceedings. Conference members and guests, as well as those watching the live feed, were encouraged to use Twitter and Facebook to comment on debates and keep up to date with the action. The Conference hashtag on Twitter (#methconf) was used every 14 seconds on average at its peak on July 6, with 540,805 impressions (views) created and #methconf tweets reaching 58,303. During the week of the Conference, the Methodist Church Facebook page was viewed over 9,500 times.

Toby Scott, Director of Communications, said: "I'm delighted that so many people were able to participate online, whether they were in Southport or not. We have been using social media and live broadcast to share the Conference with the world for a few years, but this year it all came together beautifully. The heart of Methodist Conference is in being together: praying, worshipping, celebrating and in deliberating on important issues. But through online media we have helped share that worldwide. This only worked because so many people got involved, both those in the office and the hundreds of others contributing online. There's something wonderfully Methodist about the whole experience - being and staying connected with each other wherever we may be."

The Conference debated major reports on the Big Society, poverty and inequality, climate change and the Anglican-Methodist Covenant . The Conference also elected a new President and Vice-President Designate for 2012/13, the Revd Dr Mark Wakelin and Mr Michael King , who will be inducted as the first items of Conference business at Plymouth in 2012.

Conference representatives also expressed their deep gratitude to the Revd Kenneth Howcroft, who is stepping down from his role as Assistant Secretary to the Conference to work as a presbyter at the Ponte St Angelo church in Rome and as Methodist Representative in Rome. Mr Howcroft been Assistant Secretary to the Conference for seven years and will be succeeded by the Revd Gareth Powell.

The Methodist Conference is the governing body of the Methodist Church, which meets annually to discuss matters affecting the life, work and worship of the Church. This year it met at the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre, 30 June - 7 July. For more information, visit www.methodistconference.org.uk.  

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