The April meeting of the Methodist Council

The Methodist Council met at All Saints Pastoral Centre, LondonColney, on 6 & 7 April, for its last scheduled meeting for theannual Methodist Conference meets in June.

In response to a note from the Stationing Committee, Council andthe Stationing Committee will jointly sponsor a resolution toConference. This will call on Conference to appoint a working partyto undertake a thorough review of stationing procedures andprinciples, reporting back to Conference in 2007. The Revd DavidDeeks, General Secretary of the Methodist Church, said 'stationingand the principle of itinerant ministry is at the very heart ofMethodism, but it is also right that we ensure that our practicesdo not hinder us in our mission in 21st century Great Britain.These are huge issues that neither the Stationing Committee nor theCouncil alone can answer, and so we will together ask theConference to create this working party.'

The new London District and two new southeast districts will comeinto existence on 1 September 2006, and Council heard the finalreport of the co-ordinating group for the proposed districtarrangements for London and the South East. The newLondon Districtwill match the boundaries of the Greater London Authority. To thenorth the new Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire District willcover the three eponymous counties, while the new South EastDistrict will cover Kent, Sussex, Surrey and small parts of othercounties.

The Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire District will be launchedon 31 August in Chelmsford Cathedral. The London District will belaunched on 2 September in Westminster Central Hall, while theSouth East District will launch on 3 September in the Assembly HallTheatre, Tunbridge Wells.

Council heard about the Church's ongoing work with the Departmentand Trade and Industry to produce a statement of good practice ofterms and conditions for work for ministers. In common with otherdenominations, Methodist ministers are not employed by the Church.The DTI accepts this position, but is asking all churches to adopta version of its statement of good practice. The MethodistConference will receive a report detailing both the DTI statementof good practice and the Methodist Church's version of it.Conference will also be asked to approve the principle of aHandbook for Presbyters and Deacons, setting out clearly the termsand conditions of work. The Revd David Gamble, Co-ordinatingSecretary for Legal and Constitutional Practice, said 'we have beenworking with the DTI on this since 2002 and we are very pleasedwith what has been achieved. It is encouraging that we already meetmany of the DTI's guidelines, but there are a few matters where weneed to put in writing things that occur in practice. Methodistministers and deacons work hard and it is only right that theyunderstand the terms and conditions under which they do so.'