Methodist Church moves towards Bishops

The Methodist Church of Great Britain has moved towards adoptingBishops. The annual Conference of the Church voted to receive thereport What Sort of Bishops, which commits the Church to make afinal decision on the topic in 2007 after a consultation throughoutthe Church.

What Sort of Bishops is one of a number of reports at this year'sConference looking at the structures of The Methodist Church,including the role of District Chairs, Circuit Superintendents andthe Conference itself.

The Revd David Deeks, General Secretary of the Methodist Church,said, 'it is important that the Church is organised so that it canbe as effective as possible in its mission, and none of thedecisions relating to this can be taken lightly. There are manycomplex biblical, theological and practical issues concerningbishops, and I am sure that there will be widespread and passionatediscussion of this before it returns to Conference in 2007.'

British Methodism has historically had two ordained orders,ministers and deacons, and the Church is now invited to think aboutboth whether or not it wants bishops and, if the first answer is'yes', what sort of bishops it wants. The possibilities range fromonly the President of the Conference becoming a bishop, through toarrangements where each District could have up to fourbishops.

'Although the driving force for the whole review of oversight hasbeen to ensure that the Church is set up for effective mission,'said David Deeks, 'we must also take into account our ecumenicalrelationships, especially the Covenant with the Church of England.Discussing Methodist bishops helps us gain a better understandingof what they mean to the Church of England and other Episcopalpartners, and this in turn enables us to work better together. Wewill only adopt bishops if we feel that it will make a positivedifference to the Church's work in the world.'