Training for Ministry - Planning it and Funding it

A report on the initial training of authorised ministries in theMethodist Church will recommend the principle of "RegulatedFunding" for training from 2002.

Regulated Funding means that there needs to be a guaranteedbase-line of funding for a fixed period which is affordable by thecircuits and districts, and is reasonably constant from year toyear.

Training would proceed within the funding available. This wouldnecessarily set limits to the total numbers of students who couldbe trained. However there would be variations from year to year inthe numbers of students in the different categories: FoundationTraining, Pre-ordination Training and Probation. A balance wouldalso need to be set between full-time and part-time training.

The Methodist Conference will decide whether to adopt thisfunding scheme. If approved, it will go on to set a minimumbase-line over the five-year period 2002-7. The Methodist Councilis recommending that the level of Funding for Foundation Training,Pre-ordination Training and Probation be fixed at £2.75 million forthe year 2002-3. This level would be guaranteed for the subsequentfour years with inflation being added as necessary.

This amount will pay for the projected maximum number ofstudents in the current systems: since costs are now cut to thebone, anything less will lead to potential students being deferredor declined.

The costs for training in the Methodist Church budget for 2001-2is £2.625 million.

If the Conference chooses to fix a lower budget, then criteriawould need to be devised to determine who should be declined ordeferred from entering training. These would probably include thelikely number of years of subsequent service, the readiness forstudy, and other grading during selection. A decision would also beneeded on whether those declined could be permitted to proceedentirely at their own expense.

The proposals have come about after "many people in the circuitsand districts felt that there has been a steep rise in the costs oftraining in recent years," explains the report. "This is becausefor many years they had been cushioned from the full extent of thecosts by a decision to meet the difference between the total costsand the moneys available (from assessment and donations) by usingup connexional training reserves. When those reserves ran out, thefull cost began to fall on a general assessment and the Fund forTraining."

The 2000 Methodist Conference decided that it should all nowfall on assessment only. "This has made the rise in costs seem muchsteeper than it actually has been," says the report.

The Methodist Conference 2001 takes place at Ipswich Town Hallfrom 23-29 June.