New Learning Network makes progress following September launch

The new Methodist Discipleship and Ministries LearningNetwork will soon be fully staffed, the Methodist Council hasheard.

Jude Levermore, Head of Discipleship and Ministries, gave aprogress report to the Council which met at the High LeighConference Centre in Hertfordshire on 14-15 October.

"We are currently completing an external round of interviews andwe hope that the network will have most of the remaining postsfilled soon," Jude said. "We have attracted an extremely talentedrange of applicants and I think the new regions will really beginto notice the change once the team is at full capacity and thereare opportunities for people to meet face to face."

Connexional staff involved in getting the Network up and runninghave been working on pathway development and identifying existinggood practice across the Connexion. "Whilst this is a long termproject we hope that some of the fruits of this work will be seenat an early stage in the life of the Church," Jude added. "There isa sense of excitement emerging, a real sense that we are standingon the edge of something new."

The Council also received a report outlining plans to celebratethe 40th anniversary of the ordination of women to the presbyteratenext year.  It was not until 1974 that the Conference ordainedthe first women presbyters.

The Revd Ruth Gee, President of the Methodist Conference, said: "Iam proud and blessed to be a member of a Church that has recognisedand affirmed the full participation of women and men in all aspectsof its life and ministry. The ordination of women as presbyters in1974 had been long awaited and was a cause for celebration. It wasin the summer of 1974 that I first heard a call to ordainedministry in the Methodist Church; I therefore share in the joy andthanksgiving of the Conference in a very personal way."

The group planning the 40th anniversary, which includes the RevdRuth Gee, stated in their report to Council that the celebrationneeded to enable participation from the original cohort of womenordained in 1974 and that Methodist Women in Britain (MWiB) shouldbe involved in the service.

"We rejoice that there are no structural barriers to the fullparticipation of women in the life of our church but we must alsobe deeply concerned at the under-representation of women insignificant leadership roles and in other parts of the life of thechurch," the Revd Ruth Gee added. "As we look to the future I praythat we will continue to recognise the imperative and the challengeto be an inclusive church, living the good news that all are lovedand called by God. As we celebrate we must also commit ourselves toovercome the barriers that remain so that all are truly and fullywelcome."

Council members also discussed the Joint ImplementationCommission's report following the ten year anniversary of theCovenant between the Methodist Church in Britain and the Church ofEngland. The report considered by the Council stated: "Much has yetto be done in removing obstacles to growing together. Some of thoseobstacles are cultural, practical and ecclesiological. Others arerooted in the inertia of institutions. Our churches are beingchallenged to dig deep and to listen to what each is saying to theother in the name of Christ."

In January 2014, the Methodist Council and the Connexional LeadersForum (CLF) will be asked to respond formally to the JIC reports sothat, at the JIC's meeting in February, their comments can help toshape the final draft of the short report and the resolution(s)which will be the focus of debates in the General Synod and theMethodist Conference.


  1. The Methodist Council meets three times annually to undertakeongoing work on behalf of the Methodist Conference, which is thegoverning body of the Methodist Church. Methodist Conference 2014will take place in Birmingham from 26 June to 3 July. Visit theMethodist Conference website for more information.
  2. The Council papers can be found online here.