Image via WikipediaHere are reports of some sessions at the joint councils meeting between the Methodist and United Reformed Churches. Anna Drew posted about the meeting here and David Tatum has posted here. All the relevant reports, including those where Methodist Council met alone, are available on the Methodist Church website. These reports should address most questions but please comment if you have anything to say or further questions.
- The joint meeting began with an exploration of the history, context and characteristics of each denomination, with contributions by leaders from both Churches. There is a paper, BT1001: How our Churches work: an introduction to the URC Mission Council and the Methodist Council.
- Bishop Graham Cray, leader of the ecumenical Fresh Expressions team, led a session, which invited all present to give examples of FX initiatives, and to discuss how to build on these.
- The two General Secretaries set out the major themes for the two Churches. First, Roberta Rominger spoke about how they have reviewed the structure and finances of the URC, but she also set out a transformational vision called Vision4Life. This is a three year programme with one year focusing on Bible study, one on prayer and one on evangelism. Martyn Atkins spoke about the Methodist Conference statements Our Calling and Priorities for the Methodist Church, and how those have led on to the process Regrouping for Mission and the current discipleship focus.
- The joint meeting heard some challenging but energising presentations about children’s and youth work. These acknowledged many young people have at best a dim understanding of religion, but also the opportunity is there if we can find relevant and exciting ways to speak of Christ to these age groups. The meeting broke into groups to discuss the challenges and opportunities of children’s and youth work and later voted to commit the Churches to closer working in this area. See the paper: BT1003 Which Way Now?: engaging with children and young people in our contemporary context.
- A similar process followed for a resolution on poverty and government cuts that came from one of the workshops. This resolution calls for the churches to stand alongside the poorest and most vulnerable, and also to resist language that stigmatises the poor or implies that in some way poverty is a lifestyle choice or the fault of the poor.
- There was a major session on buildings, and how we make the most of what we have to support mission, including looking at the social uses of church buildings. This led on to talking about suitable, sustainable buildings, and how we can share some resources to enable each Church to make the best use of its buildings. Council members voted in favour of a resolution committing the two churches to working together on this matter. See the paper: BT1004 Building Opportunities – Report of the Church Buildings Think Tank.
- The joint meeting reviewed the post of Methodist/URC National Rural Officer and agreed to extend the role until August 2016, with a further review to take place in 2015. See the paper: BT1005 Review of the Methodist/United Reformed National Rural Officer Post.