The General Secretary of the Methodist Church and Secretary of the Methodist Conference has announced his intention to step down from his current post in August 2015.
The Rev Dr Martyn Atkins shared this news at a meeting of the Methodist Council on Saturday 5 April in Leamington Spa.
Dr Atkins came to the job from being a senior lecturer and then principal at Cliff College, the Methodist training institution. He is a noted missiologist, looking at the purpose and engagement of the church in the contemporary world.
He declared: “I will be leaving my current post as Secretary of the Conference and General Secretary at the end of the next Connexional year, 2014-15. I have requested the permission of the President of the Conference to this effect, and she has kindly agreed. By that time, God willing, I will have served in this appointment for seven years, and will have reached the age of 60, enabling me to offer a handful of years to a further appointment of some sort prior to retirement.
"My decision has been made over a period of time, in a spirit of prayerful discernment and arising from conversations with a small number of people, not least my wife, Helen.
“Many months of hard work still lie ahead and the Council can be assured that I intend to continue to undertake my responsibilities as best I can and with integrity, vigour and passion: indeed there may well now be an even greater sense of urgency about my work in relation to those issues about which I believe progress and transformation is critical to the life of our Connexion at the present time.
"This work will continue to be enabled by my close colleagues who are among the finest and hardworking people it has been my pleasure to know, and to whom the Connexion and this Council should rightly be proud and care for.
“It has been – and will remain for some time yet – a deep privilege to serve Christ, among the people called Methodists and beyond, through this significant appointment," Dr Atkins concluded.
“There will be an appropriate time for tribute and reflection,” added Connexional Secretary Doug Swanney, “but for now I hope that people will join with us in praying for Martyn and Helen as they take the next steps on their journey of discipleship. We are hugely grateful for Martyn’s faithful service to the Church and look forward to seeing what more he will bring in the final year of his work in this role.”