Methodist Conference draws to a close after a week of worship, debate and celebration

The 2011 Methodist Conference has drawn to a close in Southportafter six days of prayer, worship and debate. The annual Conferenceis the governing body of the Church and meets in difference venueseach year.

More people than ever before followed the events and business ofthe Conference, with live video from the debates streamed over theinternet on the Methodist Conference website. At its peak, 180people tuned in to watch the proceedings. Conference members andguests, as well as those watching the live feed, were encouraged touse Twitter and Facebook to comment on debates and keep up to datewith the action. The Conference hashtag on Twitter (#methconf) wasused every 14 seconds on average at its peak on July 6, with540,805 impressions (views) created and #methconf tweets reaching58,303. During the week of the Conference, the Methodist ChurchFacebook page was viewed over 9,500 times.

Toby Scott, Director of Communications, said: "I'm delighted thatso many people were able to participate online, whether they werein Southport or not. We have been using social media and livebroadcast to share the Conference with the world for a few years,but this year it all came together beautifully. The heart ofMethodist Conference is in being together: praying, worshipping,celebrating and in deliberating on important issues. But throughonline media we have helped share that worldwide. This only workedbecause so many people got involved, both those in the office andthe hundreds of others contributing online. There's somethingwonderfully Methodist about the whole experience - being andstaying connected with each other wherever we may be."

The Conference debated major reports on the Big Society, povertyand inequality, climate change and the Anglican-Methodist Covenant. The Conference also elected a new President and Vice-PresidentDesignate for 2012/13, the Revd Dr Mark Wakelin and Mr Michael King, who will be inducted as the first items of Conference business atPlymouth in 2012.

Conference representatives also expressed their deep gratitude tothe Revd Kenneth Howcroft, who is stepping down from his role asAssistant Secretary to the Conference to work as a presbyter at thePonte St Angelo church in Rome and as Methodist Representative inRome. Mr Howcroft been Assistant Secretary to the Conference forseven years and will be succeeded by the Revd Gareth Powell.

The Methodist Conference is the governing body of the MethodistChurch, which meets annually to discuss matters affecting the life,work and worship of the Church. This year it met at the SouthportTheatre and Convention Centre, 30 June - 7 July. For moreinformation, visit www.methodistconference.org.uk.