Methodist Conference 2008 Roundup

The Methodist Conference met from 5-10 July inScarborough. Revd Stephen Poxon was inducted at President of theConference, and Mr. David Walton as Vice President. Conference alsoordained 55 new Methodist ministers (50 Presbyters and fiveDeacons).

Conference addressed a number of contemporary issues, includingknife crime, Burma, Zimbabwe, stem cell research andabortion.

Time was spent looking at the Youth Participation Strategy (YPS),a major new initiative aimed at increasing the involvement ofpeople aged 16-23 in the running of the Church both nationally andlocally. The YPS will see an investment of more than £4 millionover the next five years. The Youth Conference also brought itsconcerns, including knife crime, Burma and the pressures on youngpeople combining church activities with further education orwork.

Conference also committed the Church to fresh ways of expressingits mission. The successful Fresh Expressions scheme, a jointventure with the Church of England, has been renewed by bothchurches for a further five years. The Methodist Conference alsogave its support to a new Pioneer Ministries scheme, in which theChurch will invest over £4 million to establish new congregationsacrossthe country, aimed especially at young adults and those whohave had no prior contact with any form of church.

Conference received a major report on early human life, looking atissues such as stem cell research, fertility treatments andabortion. The report offers guidance on how to approach thesecomplex and often highly personal topics. It also recognises thatattempts to respond to particular medical developments can easilybe quickly out of date as the technology moves on. Conference hascommended for study the report which says that embryos should notbe created solely for the purpose of research, but that it isacceptable for embryos created during fertility treatments to beused for research. The Conference also voted to review the Church'scurrent stance on abortion.

Conference affirmed the Covenant with the Church of England,signed in 2003, and supported the creation of a new body tocontinue the work of implementing it. This new body will for thefirst time include representation from the Church in Wales and theScottish Episcopal Church, in recognition that the Methodist Churchserves all of Great Britain. The United Reformed Church will alsobe invited to continue to participate. Conference offered prayerand support to the Church of England's General Synod (meetingalmost simultaneously in York) as it addressed major issues.

For the first time, live video of Conference proceedings wasbroadcast via the Conference website, and a video archive is alsoavailable. Live audio was also broadcast in partnership withPremier Christian Radio. Conference also elected its President andVice-President for 2009-10. The Revd David Gamble were designatedto serve as President and Dr Richard Vautrey as Vice President atnext year's Conference.