Church makes progress on Equality and Diversity

The Methodist Church has made significant progress in addressingequality and diversity issues within its own structures, theMethodist Council heard at its first meeting of 2012. Methodistsworking on a new equality and diversity structure for the Churchhave drafted a theological statement that will form the basis ofinclusive policy within the Church.

The Methodist Council agreed to give more time to stakeholderforums shaping the Church's response to equality and diversity whenit met at Methodist Church House in London on 23-24 January.

Jennifer Crook, Equality and Diversity Adviser to the Church, said:"There is so much exciting work that is going on. The purpose ofthe theological statement is to ensure that the Church's equalityand diversity agenda is firmly rooted in Biblical values and coreMethodist beliefs, so that when people ask us, 'why are we doingthis?' we can say, 'this is what we believe in the MethodistChurch: we do equality because it is at the heart of what we knowand do in the Methodist Church.' There is a long history ofequality, diversity and social justice issues within theChurch."

The theological statement, which is likely to be presented to theMethodist Council in March, has been drafted following lengthydiscussions by the working groups in partnership with members ofthe Church's Faith and Order committee who advised the groups onquestions relating to Arminianism and the Methodisttradition.

The Council, made up of representatives from all over Britain, alsodiscussed pensions, state-funded schools, a new 'dignity at work'policy and refurbishment work to the Methodist International Centrein London.

Council members agreed to create a Methodist Academies and SchoolsTrust (MAST) in order to comply with the Government's new EducationBill, which received Royal Assent on 15 November last year. Theyalso approved a development bank loan of up to £2,800,000 for therefurbishment of the educational rooms at the MethodistInternational Centre. Some of the rooms are expected to berefurbished in time to offer hospitality during the Olympics.

Note: The Methodist Council meets three times annually to undertakeongoing work on behalf of the Methodist Conference, which is thegoverning body of the Methodist Church. Methodist Conference 2012will take place in Plymouth from 28 June to 5 July.