15 October 2013

New Learning Network makes progress following September launch

The new Methodist Discipleship and Ministries Learning Network will soon be fully staffed, the Methodist Council has heard.

Jude Levermore, Head of Discipleship and Ministries, gave a progress report to the Council which met at the High Leigh Conference Centre in Hertfordshire on 14-15 October.

"We are currently completing an external round of interviews and we hope that the network will have most of the remaining posts filled soon," Jude said. "We have attracted an extremely talented range of applicants and I think the new regions will really begin to notice the change once the team is at full capacity and there are opportunities for people to meet face to face."

Connexional staff involved in getting the Network up and running have been working on pathway development and identifying existing good practice across the Connexion. "Whilst this is a long term project we hope that some of the fruits of this work will be seen at an early stage in the life of the Church," Jude added. "There is a sense of excitement emerging, a real sense that we are standing on the edge of something new."

The Council also received a report outlining plans to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the ordination of women to the presbyterate next year.  It was not until 1974 that the Conference ordained the first women presbyters.

The Revd Ruth Gee, President of the Methodist Conference, said: "I am proud and blessed to be a member of a Church that has recognised and affirmed the full participation of women and men in all aspects of its life and ministry. The ordination of women as presbyters in 1974 had been long awaited and was a cause for celebration. It was in the summer of 1974 that I first heard a call to ordained ministry in the Methodist Church; I therefore share in the joy and thanksgiving of the Conference in a very personal way."

The group planning the 40th anniversary, which includes the Revd Ruth Gee, stated in their report to Council that the celebration needed to enable participation from the original cohort of women ordained in 1974 and that Methodist Women in Britain (MWiB) should be involved in the service.

"We rejoice that there are no structural barriers to the full participation of women in the life of our church but we must also be deeply concerned at the under-representation of women in significant leadership roles and in other parts of the life of the church," the Revd Ruth Gee added. "As we look to the future I pray that we will continue to recognise the imperative and the challenge to be an inclusive church, living the good news that all are loved and called by God. As we celebrate we must also commit ourselves to overcome the barriers that remain so that all are truly and fully welcome."

Council members also discussed the Joint Implementation Commission's report following the ten year anniversary of the Covenant between the Methodist Church in Britain and the Church of England. The report considered by the Council stated: "Much has yet to be done in removing obstacles to growing together. Some of those obstacles are cultural, practical and ecclesiological. Others are rooted in the inertia of institutions. Our churches are being challenged to dig deep and to listen to what each is saying to the other in the name of Christ."

In January 2014, the Methodist Council and the Connexional Leaders Forum (CLF) will be asked to respond formally to the JIC reports so that, at the JIC's meeting in February, their comments can help to shape the final draft of the short report and the resolution(s) which will be the focus of debates in the General Synod and the Methodist Conference.


  1. The Methodist Council meets three times annually to undertake ongoing work on behalf of the Methodist Conference, which is the governing body of the Methodist Church. Methodist Conference 2014 will take place in Birmingham from 26 June to 3 July. Visit the Methodist Conference website for more information.
  2. The Council papers can be found online here.

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