The meeting of the Methodist Council, January 2007

The Methodist Council met on 30-31 January at High LeighConference Centre in Hertfordshire. The Council, which serves tocarry forward the work of the annual Conference, addressed a widerange of topics, which were mostly looking at internalmatters.

The biggest items of business related to the Team Focus process.This is the process to produce a Connexional Team - the officersand servants of the Church - that is more responsive to the needsof the local churches, and to give more flexibility and resourcesto local church bodies. Some of the work currently undertakencentrally by the Connexional Team will in future be done bycircuits and districts, allowing them to act in ways that take intoaccount local conditions and needs. The Team is required byConference to cut 30% of its budget between 2005 and 2008.

Council endorsed the general direction of the proposals, althoughit raised some areas of concern that will be addressed at the Marchcouncil. All the Team Focus proposals will be decided by theMethodist Conference in July.

The Revd. Ken Howcroft, Coordinating Secretary for Conference andCommunication said "although the Team Focus will sadly lead to jobcuts, at its heart is a move to liberate the energy and imaginationof individual Methodists in carrying forward the Church's missionin their communities. We do not want our structures to get in theway of new ideas, and we are moving to a vision where the Teamsupports local churches in ways that suit them."

The Council also discussed a report on the consultation on WhatSort of Bishops? This follows a report received by the 2005Methodist Conference, which opened a discussion on whether or notthe Methodist Church should adopt bishops, and if so in what form.That called for a widespread consultation, the results of which arenow available. The consultation report says that there is at thispoint no call to take further steps towards creating Methodistbishops of any kind. As a result, there is no need for a majordebate on this at the 2007 Methodist Conference. However, given theMethodist Church's Covenant relationship with the Church ofEngland, it is not possible to say that the issue will not ariseagain at some point in the future.