New Methodist Vice President calls for woolly boundaries

The new Vice President of the Methodist Conference has called onthe Church to be more visible, to take risks and to stress thespiritual rather than offering rules and regulations. In hisinaugural address to the annual Methodist Conference, Mr Coatessaid 'too many of us see our church as a place of refuge from theworld, a place to be kept as untouched as possible from outsidecontagion.'

Instead, he said, the church should recognise that this 'messy,complex and certain world is God's world. Jesus did not run away orhide from the mess; he embraced it.' Dudley also said that Jesus'did not send people away if they failed to come up to conventionalmoral standards. His policy was that 'all are welcome'. That policyought to be our Methodist policy.'

Dudley, who retired from a senior civil service position five yearsago, will serve one year as Vice President of the Conference, thehighest Methodist Church position open to the laity. He will travelwidely to visit Methodist groups across Great Britain, and willalso undertake some overseas visits to see work supported by theChurch.