The Inclusive Methodist Church Strategy
- The Methodist Church has had a long history of being an advocate for social justice and challenging injustice. Work on gender justice was first brought to the Wesleyan Conference in 1928, and the first women presbyters were ordained in 1974, a year before the passing of the Sex Discrimination Act (1975). Work on racial justice was brought to the Conference in 1962, long before the Government’s introduction of the Race Relations Act (1976). These are just a few examples, however, underpinning all this work is our firm belief that all are created in God’s image and all are one in Christ Jesus.
- Following on from those years of work, as a Church we have made significant progress across all protected characteristics as stated under the Equalities Act 2010 and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). However, today the issue of race, sexuality, gender and disability discrimination is still a major challenge for the Church, and in becoming an “Inclusive Church” there will need to be a significant transformation, which will include organisational, structural and cultural changes.
- At the heart of these changes, the Council has recognised that EDI must move beyond being “one of many priorities competing for scarce resources and finance”, to being viewed as an essential and integral part of the Church’s life. A way to facilitate this is to embed the themes of EDI across the Connexion.
Inclusive Methodist Church
The Methodist Conference voted to bolster and increase the work on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) throughout the Connexion, through the development of the Inclusive Methodist Church Strategy. The Conference agreed to thorough scrutiny of the implementation of the strategy, better collection and analysis of appropriate EDI statistics, and a transparent system for monitoring and reviewing stationing outcomes with regard to EDI concerns.
It called on Methodists to engage in their own contexts, to confront and challenge all racism and other forms of unjust discrimination; and directed every Circuit to convene a forum for reflection, conversation and planning to ensure that such actions are carried out in each local context. It also voted to incorporate work already started to ensure people who are intersex or transgender are included in the life of the Church, into the Inclusive Church Strategy.
The Inclusive Methodist Church - Draft Definition
- Welcomes in safety all who wish to be part of the life of the Church whether through worship, learning and caring, service or evangelism.
- Upholds the discipline of the Methodist Church in the face of discrimination, rejecting and resisting all behaviours which are discriminatory or belittling.
- Celebrates diversity in the variety of God’s creation .
- Represents the diversity of the Methodist Church throughout its life and structures and affirms that there is no place for discrimination in our processes of selection, discernment and appointment.
The Inclusive Methodist Church Work Streams
Five major work stream areas have been identified as necessary to implement the ‘Inclusive Methodist Church’ strategy:
- Attitudinal, Cultural and Systemic Change
- Building Trust and Confidence
- Minimum Standards
- Positive Action
- Scrutiny & Transparency