BULLYING and harassment within the Methodist Church are to be
tackled by new guidelines, it was announced on Monday.
The guidelines are a response to concerns raised about "the
vulnerability of churches to destructive patterns of behaviour",
the Methodist Council statement said. It will make recommendations
to the Methodist Conference which, if passed in July, mean that
£140,000 will be earmarked for further work on the issue.
"It is uncomfortable and difficult to admit that bullying and
harassment do sometimes occur in our churches," the Connexional
Wellbeing adviser, Tony Tidey, said. "But the decision made today,
and the recommendations that will be made to the Conference in
July, are something to be proud of.
"By clearly stating our commitment to addressing this issue, we
are calling everyone in our churches to a standard of behaviour
that should reflect our calling as Christians to treat one another
with dignity and respect at all times."
The Minister of Trinity Church, Knebworth, the Revd Steven
Cooper, welcomed the guidelines. "The Methodist Church strongly
promotes the shared participation of all its members in the life of
the Church; but this can facilitate destructive patterns of
behaviour when not everyone shares that sense of community, trust,
mutual re-sponsibility, and accountability." he said on
"I have witnessed people made to feel very unwelcome in church,
due to behaviour that is almost certainly not consciously
malicious, but thoughtless and lacking an appreciation of
Mr Cooper has seen the draft guidelines, and said that they
contain "a lot of very high-quality, insightful, and
thought-provoking material - including case studies - that may help
people in churches to examine aspects of their human nature and
relationships that often go unexamined and unrecognised.
. . . Some of those who most need to heed the guidance will need
extra persuasion to recognise that it applies to them; but the
availability of this guidance to people throughout the Church can
only be good."