Highlights of the February meeting of the Methodist Council

The Methodist Council met at All Saints Pastoral Centre nearLondon on 16-17 February. With only one more meeting scheduledbefore the Methodist Conference meets in June, the Council had alot of business on a range of topics from Church organisation andgovernance to disability justice, evangelism and ethicalinvestment.

Council enthusiastically discussed the report Evangelism andSpeaking of God and Faith, the first of a series of major reportson the work of the Church's Connexional team. After discussion insmall groups, the Council welcomed the report, which calls for:increasing evangelism across the whole Church; to enable more laypeople to speak of their faith while still being lifelong seekersthemselves; to discover gifts and release resources for evangelism;to encourage churches to become more welcoming; and to identify andappoint more people for the work of evangelism andapologetics.

The Council received a draft report on the use of funds in relationto conflict in Israel and Palestine, written in response to amotion passed at the 2005 Conference. The draft report will, afterfurther work, go to the 2006 Methodist Conference.

The Council also received the first consolidated financial accountsof the Methodist Council, drawing together several different areasof the Church's work, including for the first time the ConnexionalAdvance and Priority Fund. The accounts also adopt and implementsome new accounting guidelines for charities.

The consolidated accounts give total income for the MethodistCouncil and the funds it controls of £35.3 million for the year to31 August 2005. Total expenditure for the same period was £34.6million, of which the biggest component was the grants programme of£18.7 million (£15.1 million from unrestricted funds). Of this, 64%went to projects in the UK. In addition, £5.1 million went tosupport Formation in Ministry training, while £4.9 million went toDirect Mission & Ministry and £614,000 on Advocacy andEducation. These accounts do not cover all of the Church's incomeand spending, as much of this takes place within Districts andCircuits.

The Church is currently undertaking a widespread review of theannual Methodist Conference. The review group recently launched aconsultation document available to all from the Methodist web site.Its recommendations point towards a smaller Conference that isbetter suited to discerning the will of God and then applying thatto the oversight of the Church.