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Methodist Conference hears call to evangelise

03 July 2015

METHODIST MEDIA SERVICE

"Where is God calling you?": the Revd Steve Wild addresses the Conference, at the weekend

"Where is God calling you?": the Revd Steve Wild addresses the Conference, at the weekend

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 mission.

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 Christians together."

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 Jane Stacey.

The review identified 1885 past cases of sexual, physical, emotional, and domestic abuse and neglect; and led the Church to issue an apology (News, 5 June).

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 England context."

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.

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