Thursday, November 02, 2006

Methodist Council - Meeting 1 - Day One

Note : This is a personal review of the meeting, aiming to show how I participated and also what end decisions were reached. As part of Council I am bound by the end results of Methodist Council votes and I will stand by the decision of council, even if I disagreed with it! The Meeting was held at High Leigh Conference Centre which offers (and thanks to their website for the text) High Leigh is set in the heart of the Hertfordshire countryside within 40 acres of lawns, parkland and woodland. These tranquil surroundings aid both concentration and relaxation for delegates. This was only my second visit there but it is a delightful venue with much wide open space to allow a true appreciation of the beauty of creation... bit of a shame this was mainly viewed from the windows lining the room we met in. This was the first year of changes. No longer is council to be chaired by the current President or Vice President. Instead, in light of a paper passed last year, a past president or vice president has been elected (Revd William Morray) and he is the full time chair for a few years. This change has also seen Revd Morray bring his expertise and experience in chairing meetings and this was noticeable. We saw a meeting in which consensus was reached and not just cut 'n thrust yes or no decisions. We also had the Policy and Research Unit come and guide us through all the reshaping of the connexional team and give us the big picture and small picture guidance using a sharp compere and nifty powerpoint presentaions.. as for content... we'll come to that. Session One We opened in Prayer (lead by our Chaplain) where we looked at a Cornish potter. We then went through the usual meeting guff of minute acceptance/apologies etc. First to be discussed and accepted was the Work Outline for the Methodist Council Year. This was passed without comment. Up second was a look at what Methodist Council was in What Sort of Body are We this should be read in conjunction with the Expectations document which between them spell out, in this year of institutional change, what is to be expected from the governing (council), changing (Connexional Team), managing (Connexional Leadership Team) and a variety of other groups. I think it was a good clear document that set down in stone who expects what and means that (in principle!) Council doesn't worry over micro manging but also has a clearer idea over when it needs to step in and when it shouldn't. These were both passed. We also discussed a paper on "Substitutes" and the use/abuse of them and how to ensure that the correct level of democratic accountability is in palace. We then had a presentation from the Strategy & Resources Committee outlining all we needed to know and to begin to explain some complicated processes. This was followed by outlining of our "ways of working" (in large group discussion and small group discussion) before we got onto... Team Focus : Project 8 (Property and Money) But I'll leave you with that teaser... as I need to get back to my essay work. warm regards John

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Archbishop of Canterbury on God

I have made it back from Council, survived it just! That said I have been rather ill so unable to provide the relevant preview so many apologies. Tonight I have been listening to an amazing programme, Humphrys in Search of God, on the listen again facility after I missed it's initial broadcast on Radio 4. The programme, as the name suggest, is an exploration of what it means to believe in a God, lead by John Humphrys (of Today programme fame). He is an ex-Christian but wants to know what it means to believe in a religious God and is exploring this by interviewing faith leaders from the Christian,Muslim and Jewish religions. Tonight was the turn of Christianity and the interviewee was Archbishop Rowan Williams, a man for whom I have the greatest respect. It provides a fascinating intellectual battle as John and Rowan spar (in an exploratory sense) what it means to believe in God and also what do you do if you don't believe but want to. To hear the Archbishop so eloquent and intelligently explore and define his belief. The idea that you either believe in God or you don't was under severe challenge through the programme. Through the variety of examples offered you got a true sense of blind christian belief coupled with an understanding and humanity for the common man (in the people sense). The end result of the programme was the understanding that neither had shifted their initial starting points, Rowan wasn't about to become a atheist and John wasn't about to return to the Christianity he left. That didn't matter though, what did happen was real intellectual radio that grappled with the issues of faith in both a hypothetical and real manner. If you wish to listen to the show then I suggest you click... here. or you can listen to an hour long interview, rather than polished programme by clicking here. Take Care Y'All John