First major equalities and diversity report presented to Methodist Conference

The Methodist Conference has received a major reportchallenging the Church to eliminate discrimination in anincreasingly diverse Christian community.

This report is the result of a project initiated in 2004 by theConference and carried out by the Equalities and Diversity Project,a representative group including members who have experiencedoppression due to race, gender, sexuality and disability. Thereport shows journey the Church has taken in considering theseissues since 2004 and indicates the direction of futuredevelopments.

The report was presented for exploration by the wider Church,offering an opportunity for the Church to engage in its firstcomprehensive dialogue about the broad agenda of equalities anddiversity. It addresses the many different kinds of discriminationfaced by groups both with the churches but also in wider societyincluding, sexism, racism, disablism and homophobia. It alsooutlines some of the stories that people in these situations haveshared with the group. The stories will be collected into a seriesof booklets to accompany a further report in 2009.

Alison Parker, Equalities and Diversity Project Worker for theMethodist Church, says; 'This is a major step on the road tocreating a more inclusive, welcoming and credible Church. TheChurch as the Body of Christ is an expression of unity in the greatvariety of God's creation. This report has offered a challengingand exciting opportunity to hear the voices of the marginalised andthose working for change in the Church.'

The report identifies areas for further work on equalities anddiversity in the Church including a theological exploration of theissues and the formulation of an equal opportunities policy foradoption by the Church in 2009.

Conference received the report and commended Equally Different?, anew equalities and diversity campaign resource for use in localchurches, circuits and districts. This will include worship andBible study materials for use by individuals and groups, resourcesfor children and young people considering the issues and displaymaterials such as posters and postcards. A supporting website,www.methodistchurch.org.uk/equallydifferent, will offer the chancefor people to share their own experiences and ideas.