Methodist Church

British Methodist Conference addresses contemporary and social issues

SCARBOROUGH – The Rev Stephen Poxon was inducted as President of the British Methodist Church and Mr David Walton as Vice-President. The Methodist Conference, which met here from July 5-10, also ordained 55 new ministers – 50 Presbyters and five Deacons.

The Conference addressed a number of contemporary issues, including knife crime, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, stem cell research and abortion.

Time was spent looking at the Youth Participation Strategy (YPS), a major new initiative aimed at increasing the involvement of people aged 16 to 23 in the running of the church both nationally and locally. The YPS will see an investment of more than £4 million (S$10.7 million) over the next five years.

The Youth Conference also brought its concerns, including knife crime, Myanmar and the pressures on young people combining church activities with further education or work. The Conference committed the church to fresh ways of expressing its mission. The successful Fresh Expressions scheme, a joint venture with the Church of England, has been renewed by both churches for a further five years.

The Conference gave its support to a new Pioneer Ministries scheme, in which the church will invest more than £4 million to establish new congregations across the country, aimed especially at young adults and those who have had no prior contact with any form of church.

The Conference received a major report on early human life, looking at issues such as stem cell research, fertility treatments and abortion. The report offers guidance on how to approach these complex and often highly personal topics.

The Conference has commended for study the report which says that embryos should not be created solely for the purpose of research, but that it is acceptable for embryos created during fertility treatments to be used for research. The Conference voted to review the church’s current stance on abortion.

It affirmed the Covenant with the Church of England, signed in 2003, and supported the creation of a new body to continue the work of implementing it. This new body will for the first time include representation from the Church in Wales and the Scottish Episcopal Church, in recognition that the Methodist Church serves all of Britain. The United Reformed Church will also be invited to continue to participate. – The Methodist Church, Great Britain.

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Anglican-Methodist Covenant: Report on last five years’ work

SCARBOROUGH – A major report received by the Methodist Conference addresses the progress made over the last five years of the Anglican-Methodist Covenant. The Covenant between the Methodist Church in Britain and the Church of England was agreed by both churches in the summer of 2003. It was signed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference and the general secretaries of both churches in the presence of the Queen on Nov 1 that year.

The quinquennial report of the Joint Implementation Commission (JIC) commends the work done so far by the churches to implement the Covenant, and features a number of “cameos” illustrating how the Covenant is being put into action in various contexts. These include a joint Anglican-Methodist primary school in Kent and volunteers from both churches working together to run a night café and creative arts centre in Manchester.

The Conference commended the report for further study and endorsed the recommendations, which include appointing a successor body to the JIC for a further five-year period.

The scope of this body would extend to involve representatives of the Church in Wales and the Scottish Episcopal Church and from the Methodist Church in Scotland and Wales as well as relating more closely to Ireland where there is already a Covenant between the Methodist Church in Ireland and the Church of Ireland.

Professor Peter Howdle, Co-Chairman of the Commission and past Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, said: “As the Covenant nears its fifth birthday, this report offers a chance to reflect on a major initiative for unity and mission in the history of our Churches.

“We have heard so many encouraging stories from those living out the Covenant both in church life and in serving their communities. But it is clear that there is still much to learn and much to do in order to make the journey towards fuller visible unity.”

The report recognises that further work is needed for the Covenant to move forward, particularly in encouraging and resourcing local churches.

Expert support and advice is being made available to Bishops and District Chairmen wishing to encourage deeper engagement with the Covenant in their area and take up the opportunities it gives for unity in common life and mission.

The Church of England discussed the report at its recent General Synod. – The Methodist Church, Great Britain.

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