The Methodist Council

06 February 2020

The Methodist Council met at High Leigh Conference Centre on Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 January. On the agenda were discussions to streamline the trusteeship structure, updates on the Methodist Way of Life and the Ministerial Covenant. The Council was also updated regarding its ongoing work to support Our Calling.

Reaffirming Our Calling: Trusteeship Structure The Council received a report on proposals for the trusteeship structure within the Methodist Church and considered the need to move towards a more informed, flexible and efficient structure offering increased representation. The recommendations made in the Governance Structure Review, undertaken by the external consultants Bridgehouse Company Secretaries, were examined by the Council. Among the recommendations that were considered in discussion groups were to change the trustee body from the Methodist Conference to the Council. Feedback from the groups was noted and will be considered as part of the consultation process before proposals are put to the Council and the Conference.

Membership and Methodist Way of Life The Council noted a report on the Methodist Way of Life, an expression of personal accountability and the living out of Our Calling. The Council commended the work, affirming the proposal to launch it at the 2020 Conference. Subject to consultation with the Faith and Order Committee, the Council directed that the 2020 membership ticket should include the commitments of membership. The Council directed the Faith and Order Committee to consider proposals for the Methodist Way of Life and their relationship to the understanding of the duties and privileges of membership and the role of the class meeting and the class leader.  

Report from the Faith and Order Committee: The office of Vice-President A report received from the Faith and Order Committee considered the situation where the office of the Vice-President, although generally considered a lay position, is open to deacons.  The Faith and Order Committee does not recommend any change to the current position. However, the Council directed the Secretary of the Conference and the Warden of the Methodist Diaconal Order to consider the further steps to be taken in the light of this report and to report back.

Property Development Committee Annual Report The Council received a report from the Property Development Committee exploring the potential of the property strategy and how the Church’s built assets can be used as part of Our Calling. Further work needs to be undertaken on sharing the expertise that exists within the Property Development Committee, supporting districts in ensuring that mission plans are in place prior to projects being started, providing expert guidance around listed buildings and securing the best terms where properties are sold.

Modern Slavery Act
The Council adopted the Modern Slavery Transparency Statement, which is required to be reviewed annually and is available on the Methodist website, to ensure suppliers are vetted for compliance.  The Council continues to underline its commitment to ensure that modern slavery is not featured in the Connexional Team’s supply chain.  

Ministerial Covenant
What has previously been called the ‘Code of Conduct’ will now be entitled the ‘Ministerial Covenant’ to ensure that the Church’s responsibilities to ministers is reflected equally to a minister‘s responsibilities and includes a statement of the covenant relationship between the Methodist Conference and the minister. The group hopes to present its draft material to the March 2020 meeting of the Council, with a view to it being brought to the 2020 Conference.

Good Practice Guidelines for Churches: Sexual Harassment  A report was received by the Council from Mrs Jill Baker, Past Vice-President of the Conference, on how the Church deals with incidents of sexual harassment.  The Council directed Jill to continue to oversee the work and to bring draft guidelines to the March Council.

Our Calling: Methodist Council Objectives The Council received a report as work continues to ensure that the Our Calling statement, “the calling of the Methodist Church is to respond to the gospel of God’s love in Christ and to live out its discipleship in worship and mission” is kept before all its work.

The Worship, Leading and Preaching Course has been updated. Work continues to implement the strategy for vocational discernment and exploration.

Learning and Caring
A new publishing strategy has been agreed, focusing on creating publications in support of Our Calling. The subcommittee for the redevelopment of Methodist Church House will update the Strategy and Resources Committee in February with input from professionals.

The draft Evangelism and Growth Strategy has a focus on Church at the margins. 3Generate continues to grow and will move to the NEC in 2020, a pilot will be undertaken for children aged 4-7 to attend for a day accompanied by parents or carers.  The Joint Public Issues Team continues its vital work to promote engagement across a range of social, environmental and political issues.

More than 100 consultations have now taken place across the Connexion regarding the draft Evangelism and Growth strategy, God for All. The evangelism pages of the Methodist Church website have been updated to include a toolkit of mission planning.

Context of establishing the Connexional Central Services Budget for three years commencing 2020/21 A report received by the Council reconsidered the way in which the Connexional Central Services budget is set, recommending identifying all of the activities with which the Team is engaged and allocating the existing budget to them. The Council noted that the assumption was for a 2.5% average salary increase, but that this would be formally proposed by the Pay and Remuneration Sub-committee and reflected in the final budget.

Consolidated Accounts for Year Ended 31 August 2019 The Council adopted the consolidated accounts for the year ended 31 August 2019 and directed that a unified statement of connexional finances be presented to the Conference.