Musings on Methodist Conference

by Richard on July 8, 2011

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

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }


RW 07.08.11 at 9:26 pm

Did Jesus get a look in or mention at the conference? I am sure he is nearly as important to Methodism as EDEV.


Richard 07.08.11 at 9:28 pm

That was a cheap shot.


Kim 07.08.11 at 10:06 pm

“Cheap shot”? “What an asshole” is more like it.


Tony Buglass 07.08.11 at 11:31 pm

From all accounts by folk who were there, the worship was wonderful. Perhaps you should have visited, RW.


PamBG 07.09.11 at 12:00 am

I’m not sure that’s a “cheap” shot, because I would have thought the comment needed to be fairly accurate in order to be “cheap”.

I echo Richard’s thanks to the media team. The live streaming of Conference is a fantastic way to offer accessibility to everyone and I really, really, valued it as a way to feel connected from the “wrong” side of the pond. And, as a number of people have pointed out, the live stream was far superior to what is coming out of The Church of England synod at the moment. So well done, everyone.


Mendip Nomad 07.09.11 at 3:47 pm

I can assure RW that, as someone who watched almost the entire thing via the web, and participated in the twittering, that Jesus was most certainly mentioned, and very powerfully so at many points. One that sticks in my mind was Leo’s address to those received into Full Connexion and his musings to them on the the words “through our Lord Jesus Christ”.


Methodist Preacher 07.09.11 at 4:50 pm

RW - not only did Jesus get a look in but so did the Holy Spirit. Richard is focusing on the mechanics (which were pretty impressive) but something very special was clearly happening. The next few years may well turn out to surprise us. Pop over to my blog where I published an eye witness account.

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