15 May 2006

Methodist Conference heads to Scotland for first time

The Methodist Conference will take place at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, from 24-29 June. This will be the first time that the Conference has been held in Scotland.

The annual Conference is the ruling body of The Methodist Church, setting the rules, policy and key matters for the Church. 384 voting members of the Conference will be joined by thousands of visitors at the Edinburgh Conference Centre at Heriot-Watt University.

Highlights of the week include:

The induction of the new President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Graham Carter, and the new Vice President, Mr. Dudley Coates. (Saturday 24 June.) Graham will deliver his inaugural address at this point. Dudley will deliver his on Sunday morning at the Kings Theatre, Edinburgh (Sunday 25 June).

Conference Sunday will also see about 60 new Methodist presbyters and deacons received into full connexion and ordained at services around Edinburgh and Lothian. Simultaneous services in Scalloway, Inverness, Aberdeen, Berwick, Carlisle and Durham on Sunday evening will allow Methodists across Scotland and the north of England to also share in the celebrations.

Visit to the Scottish Parliament by the President of the Conference the Revd Graham Carter and the General Secretary of The Methodist Church the Revd David Deeks. They will have lunch with the Presiding Officer of the Parliament and conduct the Time for Reflection. (Wednesday, 28 June.) The Vice President will visit the Parliament on the afternoon of Thursday 29.

A major report on the Ethics of War, produced jointly with the United Reformed Church, will be launched. Peacemaking, a Christian Vocation, is a major investigation of the ethics of war, the need to work actively for peace, the role of peacekeeping troops, and the response to terrorism. (Monday 25 June, 11:15-12:45).

Conference will also debate the use of funds in relation to conflict in Israel and Palestine, as well as the wider issue of ethical investment. The Church's Central Finance Board has investments of about £1 billion, and always seeks to invest these in an actively ethical way. (Monday 25 June, 11:15-12:45).

The 2005 Conference heard a major report into the Pilgrimage of Faith, the Church's ongoing discussion about human sexuality. This year the Conference will discuss a further report on related topics, including what advice should be given to ministers who have been asked to bless a same sex civil partnership in Church (Tuesday 27 June afternoon).

The Conference will also look at the theological implications on how to live and grow as a Church when there is not universal agreement (Monday 26 10:15-10:45).

Other major debates include the terms and conditions on which ministers and deacons serve (Tuesday 27 June 10:15-10:45); the future structure of the Methodist Church in Wales (Wednesday 28, 5:15); and a proposal for a major review of stationing Ð the Church's policy on deploying ministers and deacons ((Wednesday 28, 5:30).

In addition there will be the usual wide range of lively fringe events, as well as a Ceilidh (Saturday 24 June) and a Big Sing lead by John Bell of the Iona Community (Sunday 25 June, Methodist Central Hall, Tollcross).

The Methodist Media Service will, as usual, be running an office from the venue for the duration of the Conference. We will have desk space for journalists, two ISDN-equipped radio studios and a near endless supply of tea, coffee and biscuits. Journalists planning to attend should contact Toby Scott or Anna Drew as early as possible, as there are only a limited number of press seats available within the Conference hall. We are also happy to answer any questions you may have about the Conference agenda, organisation or practical arrangements.

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