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Conference Business Digest
A report covering the business of the Methodist Conference 2019 is now available online. https://www.methodist.org.uk/media/12333/conf-2019-conference-business-digest-110719.pdf

Headlines from the Methodist Conference 2019


Confidence in telling the story of God to a fractured world

In an address on Saturday to the Conference outlining the theme for her Presidential year,  ‘So what’s the story…?’, the Revd Dr Barbara Glasson used stories from her own life and ministry to reveal how we can find a “fragile strength”  and from being present in difficult places we can, “surprise ourselves once again with the way of Jesus”.


“We are called to tell stories, listen to stories and wrestle with stories, to search for truth not fake news, to challenge the malicious stories we tell about each other and to go on believing that as people of creation, exodus, crucifixion, wilderness wandering and even in exile we can still claim the hope of resurrection and the gracious promise of life in all its fullness.”


On a trip to China in 2017, Dr Glasson heard of the story of 19 th century Cornish missionary, Samuel Pollard, brought up to date in a country with the fastest growing Christian population on earth. On another journey to Myanmar she encountered Shanti Kana, or safe space, a project run by All We Can for women, so that they can feel safe and cool and rest, away from the cramped, claustrophobic and often violent shacks of the nearby refugee camp.


The people of these stories “live the Jesus story and so can we, we who are Methodist and Methodish, we who are marinaded in faith or just dipping a tentative toe, Conference buffs and Conference rookies, big wigs and small fry, gay or straight or trans or undefined, broken, diffident or downright scared, all of us, each of us is called to this simple, costly way, living out our stories within the eternal, challenging, costly, glorious stories of God - because nothing in all creation can separate us from it.”


In her address Dr Glasson called for more than just telling of stories but to push for change and to listen: “We will need to be people of reconciliation and peace in an increasingly angry and divided Britain. We will need to commit ourselves to not only making the church inclusive, but allowing those who we might think ‘on the edge’ to challenge and transform us. We need to listen in three dimensions to what is told and what lies in the dark spaces between the words.”


To watch a video and read the full text of Dr Glasson delivering her address:



Pleasure, piety and politics

At the beginning of his year in office as Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, Professor Clive Marsh, set out how life-experience can be contained in the relationship between pleasure, piety and politics. In addition, this framework can be used to commend the Christian faith to others.


Professor Marsh is Head of the University of Leicester’s Vaughan Centre for Lifelong Learning and an International Research Consultant at the Queen’s Foundation. He seeks to help people think creatively about how faith, life and popular culture interweave, and what happens to theology as a result.


Professor Marsh said: “faith does not squeeze the pips out of life. On the contrary, faith allows us to enjoy life to the full. It gives us a measure of, and ways of discerning, what is genuinely life-enhancing.”


“Piety at its best is about having a balanced, grounded, nourishing approach to daily life. Piety allows us to make prayerful evaluations and hard choices about both the pleasure and politics which make up our life. We cannot let our lives be a simple amalgam of pleasure and piety. With all that’s been happening in recent years – in this country and elsewhere – it’s understandable, of course, why people have become disillusioned with political life. Brexit hasn’t exactly encouraged British citizens to feel confident about the world of politics. Christians must not, though, become detached and distant from political processes.”


To watch a video and read the full text of Professor Marsh delivering his address:



Young people encouraged to be courageous for Christ

Jasmine Yeboah, Youth President of the Methodist Church, has reflected on her presidential theme at the Methodist Conference, encouraging young people to step outside of their comfort zone to do something courageous for Christ. Jasmine said: “I want to encourage young people to be courageous for Christ in whatever they are doing and wherever they are.”


Jasmine spoke of the priority for the Church to listen to and hear the voices of children and young people. A manifesto has been developed following the largest ever gathering of over 1700 participants at 3Generate, the Methodist Children and Youth Assembly. The manifesto includes taking action on homelessness, building relationships within communities, supporting the lonely, caring for the environment, creating safe spaces for people to listen to each other and being creative in worship.


Citing examples, from Cornwall where a bus is being used to support homeless people, to Lincolnshire where an initiative called Spark brings together young people from church and non-church backgrounds, Jasmine said, “The Districts and Circuits blew me away as I have gone around the country. If every Church across the Connexion took action it would change the world. I really believe that”.


The Revd Dr Barbara Glasson, President of the Conference, said: “I am sure I speak on the behalf of Conference in our encouragement of you and the work that you are doing. Keep encouraging and motivating us to integrate the work of young people into the life of the whole Church.”


Watch the 3Generate report here. https://www.methodist.org.uk/about-us/news/latest-news/all-news/young-people-and-children-encouraged-to-be-courageous-for-christ/


New President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference elected for 2020/21

The Methodist Conference has elected the Revd Richard Teal to serve as President and Carolyn Lawrence to serve as Vice-President, starting their year of office when the Representative Session of the Methodist Conference opens in Telford in June 2020.



Methodist Conference commends marriage and relationships report

A new set of principles outlining the qualities of good relationships has been commended by the Methodist Conference for prayerful discussion and response across the Church.


The report, “God in Love Unites Us”, makes a number of proposals, including:

§  principles or qualities of good relating

§  an understanding of cohabitation

§  to allow same-sex couples to marry in Methodist churches

§  providing resources and liturgies to celebrate civil partnerships

§  prayers for when marriages end in divorce


The Conference passed a series of provisional resolutions on the proposals set out in the Report. After District Synods have had the opportunity to consider the proposals, final resolutions will be voted on at the Conference in 2020.


The Revd Dr Barbara Glasson, President of the Conference who presided over the debates, said: “The debate was full of grace and prayerful thought. There were many personal, often painful, stories shared and representatives listened with great care and attention. My prayer is that this spirit of generosity and love shown today will be reflected as the proposals are discussed across the Church.”



Methodist Church recognises a climate emergency

Faced with a climate emergency the Methodist Conference has called on the UK to achieve net zero emissions well before 2050. This follows recent initiatives including participation in the #TheTimeIsNow Climate Coalition lobby of MPs in London last month as well as engagement with investor bodies on reducing humanity’s global carbon footprint.


Single use plastics were singled out at the week-long Conference, being held at the NEC in Birmingham, with single use water bottles or cups unavailable for use by representatives. The Conference encouraged its members and churches to reduce plastic pollution and for church cafés to consider signing up to a refill scheme, offering free refills for water bottles.   Earlier this year the Methodist Church launched Eco Circuits and Eco Districts in partnership with A Rocha, a Christian organisation engaging communities in nature conservation.


Barbara Glasson, President of the Conference, who walked 133 miles along canal towpaths to the Conference raising funds for communities across the world affected by climate change, said: “As a Church we believe in the possibility of transformation. Our church has heard the voice of communities around the world that are already suffering severe consequences of climate change. Our response must be both individual and corporate to do all we can to tread more lightly on the earth.”

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