Methodists vote to create London District

New district will be home to 23,000 members and 252churches

The annual Methodist Conference has voted to create a Londonregional District. The new unit will cover the areas currentlyserved by the 33 boroughs in Greater London, and will consist ofabout 252 churches with 23,000 members, employing 169 ordainedstaff. The new District will come into existence in September2006.

The Revd David Deeks, General Secretary of The Methodist Church,said, "This new District will enable Methodism to engage moreeffectively with the civic and social issues found in the capital.London is a global city, and it invites new forms of Christianpresence and engagement."

London Methodism is currently served by four Districts that alsocover the rest of the South East between them. The new Londonarrangement also means that these Districts need to be redrawnbefore the September 2006 deadline.

The new London District will immediately become the largest inBritish Methodism. Although this represents a challenge, aCo-ordinating Group has been considering the issues surrounding itsince 2002 and has been able to anticipate many of the problemsthat creating the new District will overcome. One of the firstissues to be decided will be how the District will be organised andadministered. The Co-ordinating Group suggests that a Chair and twoDeputies should head the District, while the 47 Methodist Circuitsin London could be formed into clusters, with each clusterrepresenting two or three local authority boroughs.

The creation of the new post of elected Mayor and the GreaterLondon Assembly means that the Church feels that the time is rightfor realign its boundaries to reflect this. Each of the currentfour London districts voted on the report at their Spring Synods,with an average of 88.1% in favour.

David Deeks said that the new body will enable Methodists inLondon to better meet the spiritual and social needs of theirneighbours: "London has both conspicuous wealth and extensivepoverty. It has a highly mobile and increasingly diversepopulation, and has undergone great upheaval in demographic andeconomic terms. All of these factors create challenges foreveryone, not least the churches. Methodism will now be able tocontribute to the well-being of the city as a whole with a singleRegional District."

The Rev Stuart Jordan, Secretary of the London Committee, toldConference that the new District "will enable London Methodism torespond more effectively to the changing city and the changingchurch. This is not about boundaries, but about signposts and newways of working."