January meeting of the Methodist Council

The Methodist Council met at Methodist Church House in London,on 24-25 January.

Council members discussed a report on poverty, hearing that thereare an estimated 13.5 million people living in poverty in the UK.They also heard that these levels are likely to increase to 16.8million by 2014, and that the experience of living in poverty islikely to become worse as public services face increased financialpressure.

The Council expressed concern that the Government's housing benefitreform should have at its heart the needs of vulnerable familiesand should seek to provide affordable homes for all regardless oftheir means. The Council also resolved the Church should work withother partners on this matter, including the Baptist Union of GreatBritain, the United Reformed Church, Church Action on Poverty andHousing Justice.

Revd Ken Howcroft, Secretary of the Methodist Council, said"Concern for the poor has always been at the heart of the Gospelmessage and many in our churches face the challenges of poverty,unemployment, debt and homelessness. If we wish to see lesspoverty, economic growth just isn't enough. The story of the lasttwenty years is that the poor simply didn't get their fairshare."

The Council also discussed the Church's commitment to addressingclimate change and voted to endorse Climate Week. Climate Week(21-27 March 2011) is a national week of positive action, seekingto offer an annual renewal of our ambition and confidence to combatclimate change.

Council members also spent time in groups discussing how the Churchmight better embrace cultural diversity, fostering understandingand spiritual growth in a society that is becoming increasinglymulti-cultural.

Other matters discussed by the Council include Methodistinvolvement in various types of education, from the provision ofschooling to chaplaincy, and how this might develop over the comingyears.