Churches vote to stand with the poor

In the first ever joint meeting of the United Reformed ChurchMission Council and the Methodist Council, the Councils voted towork together to challenge the causes of poverty and inequalityingrained in British society.

The joint meeting took place at the Hayes Conference Centre inSwanwick, Derbyshire, on 13-15 October and encouraged members ofboth Councils to explore the areas in which the Churches might bemost effective when working together.

Council members voted to confirm their commitment to the livingwage, to stand alongside those poorest and most vulnerable, and tocampaign for benefit and wage policies that allow people to liveand work in dignity. This will involve working with other partners,including the Baptist Union of Great Britain and Church Action onPoverty.

The Revd Dr Kirsty Thorpe, Moderator of the General Assembly of theUnited Reformed Church, reflecting on the council, commented: "Thejoint sessions have shown that the two denominations share much,perhaps more than they ever imagined. On issues such as poverty andthe commitment to the young people and children in ourcongregations we share a common mind. It has been a positive threedays and as a result of our time together we have reaffirmed ourshared commitment to Jesus and our desire to serve him."

"This joint meeting signals a real appetite in both Churches forbeing the best we can be as Christian disciples," added the RevdAlison Tomlin, President of the Methodist Conference. "In all ourdiscussions we have seen a deeper commitment to working together tomake Christ's love known in the world, to challenge poverty andinjustice wherever we find it and to support and share with oneanother on our different journeys."

In their discussions, the Councils re-committed themselves toworking together with children and young people in Britain throughthe widest variety of means. They also agreed to form a group totake forward recent joint work between the Methodist Church and theURC on church buildings, focusing on the potential to shareexpertise and resources.

The URC Mission Council and the Methodist Council also metseparately to discuss matters affecting the Churchesindividually.

In its separate business sessions the Mission Council of the UnitedReformed Church considered a range of business issues including aresolution from the Human Sexuality Task Group, which was broughtfollowing the passing of the Equality Act. The Council heard thatthe act will require a statement of URC policy on whether or notits church buildings may be registered for holding civilpartnership ceremonies and the Mission Council authorised the TaskGroup to begin work on writing such a policy.

In its separate sessions, the Methodist Council discussed a rangeof issues, including how the Church's structures might bestencourage and facilitate the Church's mission in local and regionalareas. Council members also welcomed the news that the Fijiangovernment has dropped most of the charges against leaders of theMethodist Church in Fiji. The members of the Fiji Methodist ChurchStanding Committee were charged with attending an unauthorizedmeeting held in April 2009, and all but four of them have had theircharges dropped due to 'insufficient evidence'.