16 October 2007

The October meeting of the Methodist Council

The October meeting of the Methodist Council was held on October 15 and 16 at High Leigh Conference Centre in Hertfordshire. The first of three meetings planned for the current Connexional Year, it addressed a wide range of topics.

As part of the Team Focus process, the Council considered the appointments of the next General Secretary and the three new posts of Team Secretaries, who will jointly form the senior leadership of the Team from 1 September. The Council nominated the Revd Dr Martyn Atkins as General Secretary and Secretary of the Conference, and his name will go to the annual meeting of the Methodist Conference in July for confirmation. Mr John Ellis has been appointed to the post of Secretary for Team Operations; the Revd Dr Mark Wakelin to Secretary for Internal Relationships; and Ms Christine Elliott to Secretary for External Relationships. All will take up their appointments on 1 September, but will where possible start doing some work under the direction of the current leadership.

The Revd David Deeks, current General Secretary of the Methodist Church, said "we wish them well as they prepare themselves in the coming months to carry out their leadership responsibilities. The Church faces both challenges and exciting opportunities, and both the current and the designated team will work hard to meet these."

Another major report is into the appointment of pioneers to build new congregations. The Fresh Expressions organisation, which is jointly sponsored by the Methodist Church and the Church of England, has been successful in developing new forms of church and growing new church groups. But most of those attending Fresh Expressions-style churches are those who previously have had some contact with traditional churches. The pioneer scheme is designed to reach out to those who have never had any significant contact with any church, and this group includes a growing proportion of young people. The innovative and exciting scheme aims to fund about 20 pioneers for five years to build new young congregations across Great Britain and to support up to 60 more local initiatives. Council agreed the plan in principle.

The 2006 Methodist Conference directed the Council to conduct a consultation on the 1993 resolutions on human sexuality. In particular, the consultation should see if there is a wish to revise the 1993 resolutions. Following a lengthy and thorough process, the working party conducting the consultation judged that there is no wish to revise them. A little over half of the greater than 1,000 responses said that they were happy with the resolutions as they stand. Of the half who felt that there should be change, there was a wide range of opinions as to whether they should be relaxed or made stricter. As a result, the Council will recommend to the Conference that there be no revision.

All of the non-confidential Council papers are available on the Methodist website at http://www.methodist.org.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=opentogod.content&cmid=1714. The Council next meets on 6-7 February.

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