27 January 2015

Mission, political extremism and connexional budget discussed at Methodist Council

The Methodist Council discussed political extremism, releasing money for mission and the connexional budget when it met at the High Leigh Conference Centre in Hoddesdon on 26-27 January.

The Countering Political Extremism Resources Group was originally set up to run until the summer of 2014, but Council members argued that the changing political landscape in Britain meant that the group faced fresh challenges. The group has provided local churches with web resources and has emphasised the importance of voting as a way of preventing political extremists from gaining power.

The Methodist Council voted that the group should continue as an ecumenical group, ready to advise the Connexional Team or the wider Church, in support of the Methodist Church's belief that racism is a denial of the Gospel.

Rachel Lampard, Team Leader for the Joint Public Issues Team, said: "The political landscape has changed since 2010. However, it should not be imagined that the pernicious threat of political extremism has gone away. Racist groups are still present on the fringes of political activity and on social media."

The Methodist Council engaged in some discussion about the use of the Church's reserves and made some recommendations to the Strategy and Resources Committee in their preparation of the draft connexional budget. The Council also received a paper outlining matters to consider ahead of the 2015/16 budget. Pension valuations, the impact of the reserves policy and the costs of the Conference were some of the matters highlighted in the report. The process of compiling the draft Connexional Central Services Budget for the three years commencing 2015/16 is now under way. The initial assumptions for income streams have been agreed by the Senior Leadership Group based on advice from the Finance Office. 

The Council spent some time in groups considering a number of issues. The latest 'Larger than Circuit' report was discussed and the Council reflected on several possible models that might shape a report to the Conference later this year. Co-chairs of the working party, Sam Taylor and John Bell, invited the Council to reflect on "accessibility to the Conference", particularly on how to prepare for attendance at the annual Conference and how participation at the Conference can be made as effective and fruitful for as many representatives as possible.

The Council nominated the Revd Ruth Gee, a former President of the Conference, as its Chair designate. Subject to the decisions of the Conference, she will take up the role for three years beginning on 1 September 2015.

As the Council met, the Church of England was consecrating the Revd Libby Lane as its first woman Bishop. The Council sent its congratulations to her and assurances of prayer. The Revd Ken Howcroft, President of the Conference, and Ms Gill Dascombe, Vice-President of the Conference, were present at York Minster for the service of consecration.



1) The Methodist Council papers are available online here.
2) The next Methodist Council will be held on 11-13 April 2015. 

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