Methodist Church reflects on the nature of ministry in the 21st century

A report encouraging discussion on the future shape of the ministry of the Methodist Church has been welcomed by the Methodist Conference, the governing body of the Methodist Church, which met in Nottingham earlier this week.

The report includes a draft Conference Statement setting out the Church’s understanding of ministry, as well as a discussion of questions raised over recent years and on which further work is being done. The draft Statement will now be made available widely for study and discussion, before a final draft is brought for approval to the Conference in 2020.

In its changed and changing contexts, the Methodist Church understands that the time is right : to remember those things we have said in the past that remain at the heart of our shared understanding of ministry; to rearticulate aspects of our understanding in the light of our experience and God’s continuing self-revelation and to begin the process of re-visioning areas of our theology and practice as part of our ongoing response to God.  

The draft Statement affirms an understanding of ministry as corporate: it is primarily about the witness of the whole people of God in the world, and never merely an individual endeavour. It considers the nature of ordination and the patterns of ordained ministry in the Methodist Church, along with issues of order, oversight and the ministry of those who exercise different roles and offices. A key emphasis of the Statement is the Methodist Church’s understanding of the ministry of the whole people of God, affirming the many different ways in which the Methodist people engage in ministry where they live and work. Methodists are urged to continue to think about how they can encourage and support each other as they engage in God’s work in the world.

The Revd Canon Gareth J Powell, Secretary of the Conference, commented: “Whilst God’s fundamental call remains the same, our particular response in a changing and complex world can be challenging to work out together. At times, the complexity of the contexts and the different position in which we find ourselves might feel daunting and overwhelming but the same God who continues to call us, equips us and inspires us. Throughout their history, the Methodist people have sought to respond to God in new situations in creative ways.”

The full report Ministry in the Methodist Church can be read here.