I had intended to put my name forward as a Conference rep this year, a plan which was scuppered by my own incompetence. Even so, it was still very possible to feel a part of the proceedings. The media team did a magnificent job and provided an environment in which much wider engagement with the Conference by t’interweb, especiallyTwitter. Digital Mission does a proper round up of the social media connections. Some of the numbers are really quite impressive.
I’m very pleased that Conference passed a strong resolution on climate change, but you knew that. It was a bit disappointing that the General Secretary could present a report so focused on discipleship (a Good Thing, btw) without once even mentioning EDEV*, but I’m not going to hold it against him. I strongly approve of the direction of his leadership towards the church as a learning community. That strikes me as an important restatement of some stuff which was once core to Methodism.
It was good to read about the ‘Seder’ event which the Board of Deputies organised at the local synagogue. That was an important step forward which leads me to wonder if inter-faith gatherings on the Conference fringe might be a feature in future years. I hope so. There was no substantial conversation of the Israel/Palestine issue that I’m aware of, and the policy of the Methodist Church is unchanged.
One of the strengths of the Methodist system is that no matter how much those in leadership might want to stitch things up in advance, there are a number of mechanisms which mean that the Conference can make decisions unpredictably. Every Circuit and Synod has the option to send a ‘memorial’ to which the Conference is obliged to reply. This gives everyone in the church the opportunity to effect real change in our policies. It’s a process that works, as was the case with memorial M24 (and subsequent ‘Notice of Motion’) which dealt with “classification of replacement projects”. Doesn’t sound very exciting, but the decision made by Conference will have an impact on the budget for the forthcoming year. To my mind, this was a mistake, but it does give the lie to anyone who says that ‘ordinary’ Methodists can’t influence Conference.
* If the abbreviation doesn’t mean anything to you, don’t lose any sleep over it