Highlights of the 2005 Methodist Conference

The 2005 Methodist Conference takes place 25-30 June at theRiviera Centre, Torquay. Below are details of some of the keydebates.

The annual Conference is the ruling body of The Methodist Church,and the 384 voting members come from across Great Britain Ð fromShetland in the north to Cornwall in the south. In addition,representatives of the Irish Methodist Church are members of theConference, and ecumenical partners and other Methodist churchesfrom around the world send associate members. Conference membersrepresent the full range of Methodism in Britain: ministers,deacons and lay members; retirees, students and workingprofessionals.

The Pilgrimage of Faith (Wednesday, 29 June, 4:45)This is the first major report on human sexuality since the passageof the Derby Resolutions in 1993. The report shows a Church thatstill contains a wide range of opinion on human sexuality, butwhich is also committed to inclusivity, and to on-going dialogue onthe subject.

What Sort of Bishops? (Wednesday, 29 June, 11:30 Ðplease note that this debate has moved from Thursday) TheConference will consider a detailed report looking at thetheological, historical and practical basis for bishops in theMethodist Church of Great Britain. If passed, the 2007 Conferencewill be asked to make a definitive decision following a detailedconsultation.

Methodist-Anglican Covenant (Monday, 27 June,6:00) The first report into the practical and theological resultsof the 2003 Covenant will go to both Conference and the Church ofEngland General Synod. The report looks in depth at examples of howthe churches are already working together, and suggests ways toincrease this.

Domestic Abuse (Tuesday 28 June, 11:45) Surveysshow that domestic abuse is as common within churches as in societyas a whole. This report calls domestic abuse 'unacceptable andincompatible with the Christian faith and a Christian way ofliving.' In practice, this means that the Church will commit itselfto not seeing domestic abuse as just a matter for the police andcourts, but also one that raises issues of repentance andforgiveness.

Prayer Without Ceasing (Tuesday, 28 June, 3:45) Atthe 2004 Conference, the Methodist Church committed itself to ayear of prayer without ceasing. This 'year' will begin atConference, and in fact run until 31 August 2006. All of the 33Districts will take turns in maintaining prayer throughout theyear, and a number of events at Conference will mark the start ofthe year of prayer.

Make Poverty History (Thursday 30 June, 10:15) TheMake Poverty History campaign reaches a high point at the G8 summitin Edinburgh just a few days after Conference finishes in Torquay.Conference will officially send off a group of representatives whowill make the 462 mile journey to join the thousands of others inEdinburgh calling for fair trade, better aid and an end tocrippling debt for developing countries.

Review of Conference and the Methodist Council(Monday 27 June, 2:15) The annual Conference is the ruling body ofThe Methodist Church, but it is important for the Church to ensurethat the current structure, timing and membership of Conference isthe best and most cost-effective way for the Church to run. Anychanges to Conference would also have to take into account possiblechanges to the Methodist Council, which meets four times ayear.

Time to Talk of God (Saturday, 25 June, 4:45) Amajor report considering how Methodists can best talk about theirfaith. The report looks at the cultural context, and containssample resources to enable people to practice discipleship throughconversation.

Selected Fringe events (Please note that theMethodist Church is not responsible for the content or organisationof fringe meetings and other events around Conference, and viewsexpressed do not necessarily represent the views of theChurch.)

Saturday 25 June. The Black Methodist Forum meetsat 7pm. Throughout the day a number of events will mark the 60thbirthday of the Methodist Association of Youth Clubs.

Monday 27 June. The Beckley Memorial Lecture: RtHon the Lord Archer of Sandwell, QC will speak on 'Politics AndTheology In A Globalised World' from 7:30. At 8pm the Interfaithgroup will discuss 'Diluting The Truth Or The Only Way Forward?'with contributions from Rabbi Jonathan Romain, Jonathan Marshall(Buddhist) and Mrs Kauser Ahmed (Muslim), chaired by Revd DrChristina Le Moignan.

Wednesday 29 June. From 7pm, the Ethical InvestmentForum will discuss how churches can influence thebehaviour of multinational companies through investment and othermeans. The Church's Central Finance Board has over £900 millioninvested as part of pension funds: how does it use this in anethical and scriptural way? At 7:30 the Black MethodistLecture brings Mrs Sydia Ndina, World Council of Churchesto speak on 'Uprooted Peoples Programs' Work and Migration.'

To see the Conference Agenda and read the full reports clickhere.