Mission, political extremism and connexional budget discussed at Methodist Council

The Methodist Council discussed political extremism, releasingmoney for mission and the connexional budget when it met at theHigh Leigh Conference Centre in Hoddesdon on 26-27 January.

The Countering Political Extremism Resources Group wasoriginally set up to run until the summer of 2014, but Councilmembers argued that the changing political landscape in Britainmeant that the group faced fresh challenges. The group has providedlocal churches with web resources and has emphasised the importance of voting as away of preventing political extremists from gaining power.

The Methodist Council voted that the group should continue as anecumenical group, ready to advise the Connexional Team or the widerChurch, in support of the Methodist Church's belief that racism isa denial of the Gospel.

Rachel Lampard, Team Leader for the Joint Public Issues Team,said: "The political landscape has changed since 2010. However, itshould not be imagined that the pernicious threat of politicalextremism has gone away. Racist groups are still present on thefringes of political activity and on social media."

The Methodist Council engaged in some discussion about the useof the Church's reserves and made some recommendations to theStrategy and Resources Committee in their preparation of the draftconnexional budget. The Council also received a paper outlining matters to consider ahead of the 2015/16budget. Pension valuations, the impact of the reserves policy andthe costs of the Conference were some of the matters highlighted inthe report. The process of compiling the draft Connexional CentralServices Budget for the three years commencing 2015/16 is now underway. The initial assumptions for income streams have been agreed bythe Senior Leadership Group based on advice from the FinanceOffice. 

The Council spent some time in groups considering a number ofissues. The latest 'Larger than Circuit' report was discussed andthe Council reflected on several possible models that might shape areport to the Conference later this year. Co-chairs of the workingparty, Sam Taylor and John Bell, invited the Council to reflect on"accessibility to the Conference", particularly on how to preparefor attendance at the annual Conference and how participation atthe Conference can be made as effective and fruitful for as manyrepresentatives as possible.

The Council nominated the Revd Ruth Gee, a former President ofthe Conference, as its Chair designate. Subject to the decisions ofthe Conference, she will take up the role for three years beginningon 1 September 2015.

As the Council met, the Church of England was consecrating theRevd Libby Lane as its first woman Bishop. The Council sent itscongratulations to her and assurances of prayer. The Revd KenHowcroft, President of the Conference, and Ms Gill Dascombe,Vice-President of the Conference, were present at York Minster forthe service of consecration.



1) The Methodist Council papers are available online here.
2) The next Methodist Council will be held on 11-13 April2015.