22 October 2019

Methodist Council October 2019 Summary

Methodist Council, 14-15 October 2019, High Leigh Conference Centre

The Methodist Council met at High Leigh Conference Centre on the 14-15 October. On the list of reports to be considered were updates regarding the on-going work to support Our Calling and the foundations of the Evangelism and Growth Strategy.

Our Calling

The Methodist Council received a report from the Connexional Secretary, Doug Swanney, on  the work being undertaken to support the Council’s objectives as it seeks to ensure that Our Calling is kept before all its work as the main strategic driver for decision-making and resource allocation.

  • Worship: Improvements have been made to the Worship: Leading and Preaching course and specific pages are being made available online to support supernumeraries leading worship. To grow the number of opportunities for vocational exploration the Rise and Shine event is to evolve into a vocational exploration event for young people. The implementation of supervision for those in ministry continues.
  • Learning and Caring: The Mission Planning Toolkit and new property advice pages of the website are now connected and live.  Proposals to appoint consultants for the redevelopment of Methodist Church House are progressing with a planning application expected to be submitted in May 2020. 
  • Service: To support the discipleship of those from marginalised backgrounds, the Evangelism and Growth strategy includes streams of ‘church for all’ and ‘church for the poor’. Work is also underway to grow 3Generate significantly with particular attention to marginalised young people. In respect of Social Holiness, the Church, through the Joint Public Issues Team, has highlighted concerns regarding the detrimental effect that a No Deal Brexit will have on the poorest in society and the dangers of climate change. The Connexional Grants Committee reported that new priorities have increased the focus on grants for Methodist Action on Poverty and Injustice projects.
  • Evangelism: The Evangelism and Growth team is now established and developing its strategy to present to the 2020 Conference.  Most districts have submitted their mission plans to underpin future work and to ensure appropriate use of resources. 

The Council heard a presentation from the Connexional Secretary and the Secretary of the Conference which introduced a conversation on the structure of the Church, and the need to ensure that our structures are those that best enable the mission and calling of the Methodist Church to be fulfilled.  The Council discussed this in small groups and provided feedback which will be collated and shared back with the Council.

Draft Foundations of a Connexional Evangelism and Growth Strategy

The Council engaged with a report on the progress of the Strategic Foundations paper.  More than 75 ‘on-the-ground’ listening consultations have been held along with leaders’ discussions across the Connexion. The Strategy and Resources Committee, the Ministries Committee and the Methodist Council will engage with the paper in preparation for the Methodist Conference 2020.  The Council affirmed the direction of travel.

Report from the Strategy and Resources Committee

The Council approved a partnership agreement between itself and the Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education, Birmingham. The agreement sets out ways of working together to grow and develop the partnership and expresses a common commitment to theological education and ministry.  

Mission and Ministry in Covenant

A report was received by the Council to update it on Mission and Ministry in Covenant.  The report from the Secretary of the Faith and Order Committee detailed the decisions of July’s General Synod of the Church of England. The Council acknowledged that the Mission and Ministry in Covenant proposals are one aspect of the Anglican-Methodist Covenant and that the Covenant relationship is expressed in many other ways.  It welcomed the work already undertaken whilst recognising that, for some in both Churches, concerns remain about the proposals. The Methodist Council welcomed positive examples of the two churches working together and recognised how this does and could enrich the life of both churches but did not feel that it was appropriate to ask for further detailed work to be undertaken until there was a clearer indication of approval for the Mission and Ministry in Covenant proposals in both churches.  The Joint Advocacy and Monitoring Group will continue to encourage local churches to work together and to benefit from the opportunities already afforded by our covenant relationship. Resources will be produced in the coming months to support churches in doing this as the relationship continues to develop.

Response to Notice of Motion 2019/201: Review of Role of Youth President

The Council agreed the terms of reference for a task group to review the role of Youth President. The review will include its job title, role direction and development, person specification, accountability and recruitment.  The Council agreed the terms and appointed the group, to be chaired by the Revd Dr Mark H Wakelin.  The task group will make its recommendations to the 2021 Methodist Conference.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Task Group

The Council recognised the importance of the issues highlighted by the Task Group and the concerns raised at the Methodist Conference 2019 regarding stationing. The Council directed that all members of Circuit Invitation Committees should be alerted to these issues and to the content of the EDI Toolkit, resolved that it expects that every member of a Circuit Invitation Committee to have completed training in unconscious bias, and mandated the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee to ensure that resources to enable this are available to circuits.

Nomination of the Secretary of the Conference

The Council appointed a nomination panel, chaired by the Revd Loraine Mellor, to undertake the discernment process for the nomination of a Secretary of the Conference.  The Council will bring a nomination to the 2020 Methodist Conference.

Connexional Grants Committee Annual Report for year ending 31 August 2019

The Council received the report of the Connexional Grants Committee. The report stated that in regard to Mission and Ministry in Britain grants of £3.74 million had been awarded from a budget of £3.75 million and £3.44 million had been awarded for World Mission Grants from a budget of £3.44 million.  The Mission and Ministry in Britain grant for 2019/2020 is £2.36 million (the reduction being due to there being less property funding available). The Council approved a policy only to reclaim property grants if the impacts and benefits expected at the time of grant making are not delivered and if less than 10 years has passed at the time a building closes since the award was made; within 10 years a sliding scale of recovery should be used.  The Council directed that the necessary Standing Order changes to effect this change be prepared for the Conference.

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