New report sets out role of the ordained Methodist minister

The tasks, characteristics and accountability of an ordainedminister in the Methodist Church are described in a new reportwelcomed by the Methodist Council last weekend. Thereport 'What is a Presbyter?' says that theministry of presbyters can be summarised as being a ministry ofword, sacrament, service and pastoral responsibility.

The report will now be considered by the Methodist Conference inJuly. It says that all Methodist ministers who are ordained areauthorised by the Methodist Conference to "represent God-in-Christand the community of the church in the world, and the world and thecommunity of the church in Christ before God". They do this by:

  • Being signs of the presence and activity of God-in-Christ inthe church and the world
  • Offering the church and the world constantly to God throughChrist
  • Helping the church and the word to see themselves and eachother in the light of God's grace and justice
  • Representing and acting on behalf of Christ and the universalchurch in a particular time and place.

The report, prepared` by the Methodist Church's Secretary forPresbyteral Ministry, the Rev Ken Howcroft, says: "As people whorepresent the Conference, all Methodist ministers who are ordainedand in full connexion share a collegialresponsibility for embodying and exercising the Conference'soversight of the church's engaging in worship and mission, both asit gathers in Christian community and as it disperses in theworld."

The 2002 Methodist Conference will have before it a number ofreports about major issues affecting ordained ministry in theChurch. These include 'An Anglican-MethodistCovenant''Releasing Ministers for Ministry',as well as reports on episcopacy, leadership, and a review ofstipends.

In producing 'Releasing Ministers forMinistry' it has become apparent that a clearunderstanding of the Methodist Church's view of presbyteralministry should be established in order to enable the Church toengage in the conversations about the major issues before it.

The result is 'What is a Presbyter?', which hasbeen endorsed by the Methodist Faith and Order Executive. It wasoriginally intended to be an appendix to 'Releasing Ministersfor Ministry' but the Methodist Council has agreed thatit is a substantial piece of work which should be a free-standingreport to be considered by this year's Conference.

The report outlines the main tasks of the presbyter, among whichare praying; studying the Bible and other sources; planning,leading and taking part in acts of worship; presiding at HolyCommunion and Baptisms; being responsible for pastoral care; andrepresenting the church in the community.

Along with their visible duties, the minister must seek to "growas a woman or man of God" and needs to ensure that their family andpersonal responsibilities are not neglected. The presbyter isaccountable to God; to the Church through a "covenant relationship"with the Methodist Conference: and to fellow ordainedcolleagues.