30 June 2004

Methodists vote to create London District

New district will be home to 23,000 members and 252 churches

The annual Methodist Conference has voted to create a London regional District. The new unit will cover the areas currently served by the 33 boroughs in Greater London, and will consist of about 252 churches with 23,000 members, employing 169 ordained staff. The new District will come into existence in September 2006.

The Revd David Deeks, General Secretary of The Methodist Church, said, "This new District will enable Methodism to engage more effectively with the civic and social issues found in the capital. London is a global city, and it invites new forms of Christian presence and engagement."

London Methodism is currently served by four Districts that also cover the rest of the South East between them. The new London arrangement also means that these Districts need to be redrawn before the September 2006 deadline.

The new London District will immediately become the largest in British Methodism. Although this represents a challenge, a Co-ordinating Group has been considering the issues surrounding it since 2002 and has been able to anticipate many of the problems that creating the new District will overcome. One of the first issues to be decided will be how the District will be organised and administered. The Co-ordinating Group suggests that a Chair and two Deputies should head the District, while the 47 Methodist Circuits in London could be formed into clusters, with each cluster representing two or three local authority boroughs.

The creation of the new post of elected Mayor and the Greater London Assembly means that the Church feels that the time is right for realign its boundaries to reflect this. Each of the current four London districts voted on the report at their Spring Synods, with an average of 88.1% in favour.

David Deeks said that the new body will enable Methodists in London to better meet the spiritual and social needs of their neighbours: "London has both conspicuous wealth and extensive poverty. It has a highly mobile and increasingly diverse population, and has undergone great upheaval in demographic and economic terms. All of these factors create challenges for everyone, not least the churches. Methodism will now be able to contribute to the well-being of the city as a whole with a single Regional District."

The Rev Stuart Jordan, Secretary of the London Committee, told Conference that the new District "will enable London Methodism to respond more effectively to the changing city and the changing church. This is not about boundaries, but about signposts and new ways of working."

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