THE new President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Steve
Wild, has urged every church to bring at least one new person to
faith this year. Mr Wild used his opening address at this year's
Methodist Conference in Southport to urge churches to work together
In his speech, Mr Wild, who chairs the Cornwall District of the
Methodist Church, praised the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Tim
Thornton, describing him as "his bishop", and "a real brother to
me. He is more than generous in the way he has encouraged me to
pray with him, mission with him, and enabled us to work as
He said that they were once shown around a local brewery, and,
after a meal with staff, during which they spoke about the gospel,
they were asked to bless the beer. "As I am teetotal, Tim quickly
jumped in with: 'I'll do it. If he does it, it will all turn to
water,'" he said.
He told the members of the Conference that he would be working
with Bishop Thornton and the Archbishop of Canterbury on an
evangelistic mission in Cornwall next year.
"It is a scandal and a disgrace that we are not united as
Christians," Bishop Thornton told the Conference, as he delivered
greetings on behalf of the ecumenical guests. "We want to pray and
work with you during the coming year to stop that scandal of
disunity, and to see what we can do together to preach the gospel
of Jesus Christ, and to bring more people to know the wonderful
love of God."
Mr Wild also encouraged churches to be more active in their
communities. He told conference members about a circuit leadership
team that was meeting in a chapel one cold December.
They decided to switch the heating off and walk down to the
village pub, and asked if they could meet in the restaurant area.
While there, he spoke to the locals about why they were there,
opening up an opportunity to talk about Jesus.
Among the business discussed by the Conference was a debate on
safeguarding, sparked by the Methodist Church's past-cases review,
which was led by the former deputy chief executive of Barnardo's
The review identified 1885 past cases of sexual, physical,
emotional, and domestic abuse and neglect; and led the Church to
issue an apology (News,
The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, attending the
Conference as an ecumenical guest, said: "This is one of the
shining examples of what the Covenant can do. I warmly welcome
this, and I honour the Church for the honesty and clarity of its
approach. These are clearly areas that apply in the Church of
The Conference agreed significant changes to its safeguarding
policies and practices, including upgrading its safeguarding panel
to a committee, with the power to issue "directions" to appointing
bodies rather than merely guidance
The measures were approved by a formal "standing vote", which is
usually reserved for significant occasions.