The October meeting of the Methodist Council

The October meeting of the Methodist Council was held onOctober 15 and 16 at High Leigh Conference Centre in Hertfordshire.The first of three meetings planned for the current ConnexionalYear, it addressed a wide range of topics.

As part of the Team Focus process, the Council considered theappointments of the next General Secretary and the three new postsof Team Secretaries, who will jointly form the senior leadership ofthe Team from 1 September. The Council nominated the Revd Dr MartynAtkins as General Secretary and Secretary of the Conference, andhis name will go to the annual meeting of the Methodist Conferencein July for confirmation. Mr John Ellis has been appointed to thepost of Secretary for Team Operations; the Revd Dr Mark Wakelin toSecretary for Internal Relationships; and Ms Christine Elliott toSecretary for External Relationships. All will take up theirappointments on 1 September, but will where possible start doingsome work under the direction of the current leadership.

The Revd David Deeks, current General Secretary of the MethodistChurch, said "we wish them well as they prepare themselves in thecoming months to carry out their leadership responsibilities. TheChurch faces both challenges and exciting opportunities, and boththe current and the designated team will work hard to meetthese."

Another major report is into the appointment of pioneers to buildnew congregations. The Fresh Expressions organisation, which isjointly sponsored by the Methodist Church and the Church ofEngland, has been successful in developing new forms of church andgrowing new church groups. But most of those attending FreshExpressions-style churches are those who previously have had somecontact with traditional churches. The pioneer scheme is designedto reach out to those who have never had any significant contactwith any church, and this group includes a growing proportion ofyoung people. The innovative and exciting scheme aims to fund about20 pioneers for five years to build new young congregations acrossGreat Britain and to support up to 60 more local initiatives.Council agreed the plan in principle.

The 2006 Methodist Conference directed the Council to conduct aconsultation on the 1993 resolutions on human sexuality. Inparticular, the consultation should see if there is a wish torevise the 1993 resolutions. Following a lengthy and thoroughprocess, the working party conducting the consultation judged thatthere is no wish to revise them. A little over half of the greaterthan 1,000 responses said that they were happy with the resolutionsas they stand. Of the half who felt that there should be change,there was a wide range of opinions as to whether they should berelaxed or made stricter. As a result, the Council will recommendto the Conference that there be no revision.

All of the non-confidential Council papers are available on theMethodist website at http://www.methodist.org.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=opentogod.content&cmid=1714.The Council next meets on 6-7 February.