07 April 2006

The April meeting of the Methodist Council

The Methodist Council met at All Saints Pastoral Centre, London Colney, on 6 & 7 April, for its last scheduled meeting for the annual Methodist Conference meets in June.

In response to a note from the Stationing Committee, Council and the Stationing Committee will jointly sponsor a resolution to Conference. This will call on Conference to appoint a working party to undertake a thorough review of stationing procedures and principles, reporting back to Conference in 2007. The Revd David Deeks, General Secretary of the Methodist Church, said 'stationing and the principle of itinerant ministry is at the very heart of Methodism, but it is also right that we ensure that our practices do not hinder us in our mission in 21st century Great Britain. These are huge issues that neither the Stationing Committee nor the Council alone can answer, and so we will together ask the Conference to create this working party.'

The new London District and two new southeast districts will come into existence on 1 September 2006, and Council heard the final report of the co-ordinating group for the proposed district arrangements for London and the South East. The new London District will match the boundaries of the Greater London Authority. To the north the new Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire District will cover the three eponymous counties, while the new South East District will cover Kent, Sussex, Surrey and small parts of other counties.

The Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire District will be launched on 31 August in Chelmsford Cathedral. The London District will be launched on 2 September in Westminster Central Hall, while the South East District will launch on 3 September in the Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells.

Council heard about the Church's ongoing work with the Department and Trade and Industry to produce a statement of good practice of terms and conditions for work for ministers. In common with other denominations, Methodist ministers are not employed by the Church. The DTI accepts this position, but is asking all churches to adopt a version of its statement of good practice. The Methodist Conference will receive a report detailing both the DTI statement of good practice and the Methodist Church's version of it. Conference will also be asked to approve the principle of a Handbook for Presbyters and Deacons, setting out clearly the terms and conditions of work. The Revd David Gamble, Co-ordinating Secretary for Legal and Constitutional Practice, said 'we have been working with the DTI on this since 2002 and we are very pleased with what has been achieved. It is encouraging that we already meet many of the DTI's guidelines, but there are a few matters where we need to put in writing things that occur in practice. Methodist ministers and deacons work hard and it is only right that they understand the terms and conditions under which they do so.'

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