Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bishops, Partnerships, Pensions

(Note: i)This post is the first of two reports from the Methodist Council meeting (30-31st Jan) of January 2007. The reporting covers issues raised by myself and others only as a way of recording what went on, all decisions are supported by me (cause democratic mechanisms have said so!. ii) Rather than do chronological posts, as per before, I instead wish to have post dedicated to Team Focus and another to the other stuff we looked at iii) If you click on the name of the item the relevant paper, as presented to Council, will be automatically downloaded I start with The Use of Methodist Buildings by People of Other Faiths . This item was commissioned by the Council in Oct 2005 and is to explore the ways in which people of other faiths currently use Methodist Buildings and wh legal provision is for such a situation. The paper came back and was a middle ground approach saying (importantly) that we, as a church must live with this as an issue on which we accept being a theologically diverse church. That said, the current legal provisions of what a Methodist Church can have happen on its premises (as defined in the Deed of Union). I was frustrated by this paper not going far enough (and raised this concern), yet, in reality I have to accept that many people will not want other faiths worshipping in public (eg public act of worship) rather than private (eg a personal prayer) on Methodist Premises. Yet I would suggest you read the report as a way of seeing a concept of "radical hospitality" and how being open to other faiths using our buildings is as much part of our mission as just being a good neighbour! OutcomeThis paper will go to Methodist Conference 2007 for debate and guidance on where to go now, but there is a wish to consult for a year on how the whole Methodist people view this issue. Lets hope the Methodist people are as excited as I am cause this is something worth talking about! *Note this nicely fits into the upcoming month of prayer for Interfaith Relations which was proposed by Methodist Youth Conference 2005* Report Two Report of "What Sort of Bishops" responses Youth Conference 2005 saw da yoof memorably kick da Bishops in da Ballot by rejecting all the forms of bishop proposed within the "What Sort of Bishops" report. This was one part of a connexional wide consultation which sought answers to what form of Bishops the Methodist People would wish to see within their setup. The resounding response was "we want no bishops" though the authors of the report felt that not all group and participants had grappled fully with the questions asked instead using it as a time to vent against the concept of Bishops. What followed was an interesting discussion which covered how people on the ground saw the paper, could they engage with it at all and also how to "face" the Church of England now on the issue of women bishops (eg we want women bishops but we don't want bishops in our own structure). Outcome : A report will go to Methodist Conference 2007, but need to wait until after the March Council to give fuller details than that. This is partly because if the report authors felt that the questions asked wern't answered then if they re-consult it may appear like a move for Bishops when it really wouldn't be! There were many other items discussed and I'll pop up a sentance or two about each. These were the most interesting, non Connexional Team restructing, ones that deserved special mention. Take Care Y'All John

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