The Methodist Council agreed further work on poverty, equality and inclusivity when it met at Uplands House in High Wycombe on 13 - 15 April.
Council members discussed a number of reports on the issues of inclusion and diversity, and considered plans to improve the ways the growing contributions of the diverse communities represented within the Church are valued. The Belonging Together project has involved engaging with a range of people and groups within and connected to the Church.
"This is not about committees and conditions", said Belonging Together Partnership Officer Katei Kirby. "The Church has a responsibility to love all God's people, to affirm them, bring them together and celebrate them."
The Council also received an update on the Church's work on challenging the stigma around poverty.
Presenting the report, Public Issues Policy Adviser Paul Morrison said: "One of the things that the Church should do is stand up when people are misrepresented and when people who are in poverty are treated as less than they are. Everybody is valued, everybody is loved and everybody should be treated with dignity and respect. We have to challenge the narrative that people in poverty are somehow less deserving than the rest of society."
The Church, together with the Baptist Union of Great Britain, United Reformed Church and Church of Scotland, produced a report on these issues which was launched last month. Entitled The lies we tell ourselves, the report says that statistics have been manipulated and misused by politicians across the spectrum, as well as by the media, to support the belief that the poor deserve their poverty, and therefore deserve the cuts. The Council commended the report and associated resources for use by churches and groups throughout the UK.
Council members also heard that significant progress had been made on establishing the Church's new Discipleship and Ministries Learning Network and discussed the details of the changes. "It is exciting to see the vision of the Methodist Conference for a fresh approach to learning and development becoming real," said Jude Levermore, Interim Head of the Discipleship and Ministries Cluster.
Other matters discussed by the Council included plans to recommend that the Methodist Conference set up a working group to consider the implications of the Government's plans to legalise same sex marriage.