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Methodists urged to carry on and change church culture

06 July 2012

On the podium: Edmonton Methodist Youth Choir at the Conference

On the podium: Edmonton Methodist Youth Choir at the Conference

by a staff reporter

THE Methodist Church must "keep faithful and carry on", despite its challenges, its general secretary, the Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, has said.

At the annual Methodist Conference, which was scheduled to end yesterday in Plymouth, Dr Atkins spoke of the need for a culture shift in the Church: "We cannot stay as we are and thrive. . .

"The crucial thing is not to permit our commitment to discipleship and mission to falter. We are seeking, under God, to alter the default settings on the local church, circuit, district, and the whole wider Connexion."

The Methodist Church has about 241,000 members - a figure that has declined sharply in recent years.

The vice-president of the Conference, Michael King, told delegates that the Church could become a movement of "world-transforming" disciples if it regained its confidence in Christ as the head of the Church.

The Conference heard of plans for growth. In the education sector, the Church has pledged to increase the number of Methodist state schools over the next ten years. There are currently 65 state-funded, and 14 independent Methodist schools in England and Wales, which educate 22,000 children.

The Conference agreed to reinvigorate the Church's engagement with education, and has asked Methodist districts to identify communities that need new schools, especially in areas of socio-economic deprivation.

It also agreed to overhaul its training, saying that it had focused for too long on those seeking ordination.

Members celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Arthur Rank Centre, a rural-outreach organisation. Its Methodist director, the Revd Dr Gordon Gatward, has retired after 13 years. He said it had been "a great privilege, as I've seen how God continues to work in and through countless rural churches and congregations".

It was announced on Wednesday that the Revd Ruth Gee, the chair of Darlington Methodist District, has been elected President designate of the Methodist Conference for 2013-14, and Dr Daleep Mukarji, a former director of Christian Aid, has been elected vice-president designate.


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