Methodists tackle issue of bullying

17 April 2015

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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 Wednesday.

"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 difference."

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."

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