Spring Council Report


Methodist Council Meeting
2 to 4 April 2016
Woodland Grange, Leamington Spa
Chaired by the Revd Ruth Gee

Impact of 'Mapping Way Forward: Regrouping forMission'
The 2015 Conference, by way of Notice of Motion 2015/204had requested research into the impact of the Mapping a WayForward: Regrouping for Mission initiative.  The initiative,which has been underway for almost a decade, has seen a movetowards larger circuits. The majority of the 570 circuits thatexisted in 2007 have been affected, with over half being mergedinto 374 circuits by 2014.

The research report indicated that the process had beengenerally positive.  However, as the level of responsibilityhas increased some circuits now need paid staff to undertake dutiespreviously done by volunteers. Superintendents can be reluctant tooffer for very large circuits.  There is also the need toundertake research into any reduction in diversity as a result ofthe regrouping.

Connexional Central Services Budget
Debate was held around the need to give the Conferenceoptions for calculating the Methodist Church Fund (MCF) assessment. Three options will be put to the Conference: to increase MCFby 1%, to decrease MCF by 1% or to freeze at the current level. Theassessment, to be implemented from September 2016, would be inplace for three years.

Code of Conduct for Ministers
A paper was presented in response to one of the recommendations ofthe Past Cases Review, proposing a code of conduct for ministers.The working party will bring a draft code to the Methodist Councilin January 2017, in order that it might be presented to the 2017Conference.

Flexible working for ministers in appointments in thecontrol of the Church
The Council approved guidance to enable flexible workingfor ministers who are serving in appointments in the control of theChurch.   The new guidance will be published on the MethodistChurch website. 

Ministries Committee Report
The Committee proposed revisions to the selection criteria forordained ministry that will be put before the Conference.

Mission Alongside the Poor Programme 
The review of the Mission Alongside the Poor Programmewas presented to the Council. The review examines the issues facingtoday's poor and the churches that support them.  Discussionwas had regarding a revised name that maintains the definition ofthe programme's objectives but reflects the changing priorities andlanguage of poverty. The committee recommended the title "MethodistAction on Poverty and Justice".   The report will be placedbefore the Conference for consideration. 

Consultation paper: Methodist Ministers PensionScheme
It was put to the Council that future increases inpensions be linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rather thanRetail Price Index (RPI).  A consultation with members showedthe majority were in favour of the change and the resolution waspassed by the Council.

Safeguarding Report
A report on safeguarding within the Church was presented. Anincrease of staff within the connexion Safeguarding team was notedas a response to the workload from the Past Case Review.  Itwas also reported that legislation has increased the scope ofsafeguarding in relation to the protection of vulnerableadults.

The Council agreed the principle that Districts should haveadequate and appropriate levels of safeguarding advice and support. In agreeing this principle, the Council agreed to direct theTeam, in consultation with District Chairs and DistrictSafeguarding Officers, to undertake work on the practical andfinancial implications.  It was commended to the Conferencethat fully costed proposals for achieving professional supervisionfor District Safeguarding Officers, including the use of suitablevolunteers, be presented as part of the 2017/18 budget.

Resourcing Leadership
The report from the Resourcing Leadership Working Partyrecommended the establishment of a Connexional Vocations Officer toensure appropriate support and highlighted the need to researchbarriers to participation and how they can be overcome. TheConnexional Secretary will now take steps to implement therecommendations within existing budgets and headcount.

Marriage and Relationship Task Group
The Marriage and Relationship Task Group are due toreport to Conference in 2016. While the group has not yet indicatedany intended resolutions, a small scrutiny group consisting of theRevd Eleanor Jackson, Revd Peter Sheasby and Ms Gill Dascombe wereappointed to advise on the appointment of any further workingparties or task groups. 

Reshaping the Yorkshire Districts
A proposal was accepted by the Council that the circuitsand Districts Synods of the 4 Yorkshire Districts ( West Yorks,Leeds, Sheffield and York & Hull)  be consulted about thepossibility of a  reshaping and reduction from four to threenew Districts to be effective from September 2017 . A detailedproposal will be brought to the Council in October 2016

Report from Strategy and Resources Committee(SRC)
The report noted the Chair of the SRC and the Secretary of theConference were satisfied that the Methodist Academies and SchoolsTrust (MAST) are seeking to support state funded Methodist schoolsand explore ways forward in the light of recent announcementsregarding schools becoming academies.

Property Development Committee
The Council agreed the terms of reference for theProperty Development Committee, which is to be established todevelop a strategy ensuring buildings are used for the mostefficient missional purposes.