Methodist Conference heads to Scotland for first time

The Methodist Conference will take place at Heriot-WattUniversity, Edinburgh, from 24-29 June. This will be the first timethat the Conference has been held in Scotland.

The annual Conference is the ruling body of The Methodist Church,setting the rules, policy and key matters for the Church. 384voting members of the Conference will be joined by thousands ofvisitors at the Edinburgh Conference Centre at Heriot-WattUniversity.

Highlights of the week include:

The induction of the new President of the Methodist Conference, theRevd Graham Carter, and the new Vice President, Mr. Dudley Coates.(Saturday 24 June.) Graham will deliver his inaugural address atthis point. Dudley will deliver his on Sunday morning at the KingsTheatre, Edinburgh (Sunday 25 June).

Conference Sunday will also see about 60 new Methodist presbytersand deacons received into full connexion and ordained at servicesaround Edinburgh and Lothian. Simultaneous services in Scalloway,Inverness, Aberdeen, Berwick, Carlisle and Durham on Sunday eveningwill allow Methodists across Scotland and the north of England toalso share in the celebrations.

Visit to the Scottish Parliament by the President of the Conferencethe Revd Graham Carter and the General Secretary of The MethodistChurch the Revd David Deeks. They will have lunch with thePresiding Officer of the Parliament and conduct the Time forReflection. (Wednesday, 28 June.) The Vice President will visit theParliament on the afternoon of Thursday 29.

A major report on the Ethics of War, produced jointly with theUnited Reformed Church, will be launched. Peacemaking, a ChristianVocation, is a major investigation of the ethics of war, the needto work actively for peace, the role of peacekeeping troops, andthe response to terrorism. (Monday 25 June, 11:15-12:45).

Conference will also debate the use of funds in relation toconflict in Israel and Palestine, as well as the wider issue ofethical investment. The Church's Central Finance Board hasinvestments of about £1 billion, and always seeks to invest thesein an actively ethical way. (Monday 25 June, 11:15-12:45).

The 2005 Conference heard a major report into the Pilgrimage ofFaith, the Church's ongoing discussion about human sexuality. Thisyear the Conference will discuss a further report on relatedtopics, including what advice should be given to ministers who havebeen asked to bless a same sex civil partnership in Church (Tuesday27 June afternoon).

The Conference will also look at the theological implications onhow to live and grow as a Church when there is not universalagreement (Monday 26 10:15-10:45).

Other major debates include the terms and conditions on whichministers and deacons serve (Tuesday 27 June 10:15-10:45); thefuture structure of the Methodist Church in Wales (Wednesday 28,5:15); and a proposal for a major review of stationing Ð theChurch's policy on deploying ministers and deacons ((Wednesday 28,5:30).

In addition there will be the usual wide range of lively fringeevents, as well as a Ceilidh (Saturday 24 June) and a Big Sing leadby John Bell of the Iona Community (Sunday 25 June, MethodistCentral Hall, Tollcross).

The Methodist Media Service will, as usual, be running an officefrom the venue for the duration of the Conference. We will havedesk space for journalists, two ISDN-equipped radio studios and anear endless supply of tea, coffee and biscuits. Journalistsplanning to attend should contact Toby Scott or Anna Drew as earlyas possible, as there are only a limited number of press seatsavailable within the Conference hall. We are also happy to answerany questions you may have about the Conference agenda,organisation or practical arrangements.