Methodists to invest more in pioneer church congregations

By staff writers
October 22, 2007

Britain's Methodists, who have suffered a decline in membership in recent years, along with other historic UK Christian denominations, will invest more in pioneer congregations under the 'Fresh Expressions' programme, the October Methodist council agreed.

The plan is to secure the appointment of people to build new congregations. The Fresh Expressions organisation, which is jointly sponsored by the Methodist Church and the Church of England, has been successful in developing new forms of church and growing new church groups, the Council heard last week.

But it was told that most of those attending Fresh Expressions-style churches are those who previously have had some contact with traditional churches.

By contrast, the pioneer scheme is designed to reach out to those who have never had any significant contact with any church, and this group includes a growing proportion of young people.

"The innovative and exciting scheme aims to fund about 20 pioneers for five years to build new young congregations across Great Britain and to support up to 60 more local initiatives," a spokesperson explained. The Council agreed the plan in principle, but implementation details have to be worked out.

A further argument about homosexuality was also headed off. The 2006 Methodist Conference directed the Council to conduct a consultation on the 1993 resolutions on human sexuality. In particular, the consultation aimed see if there is a wish to revise the 1993 resolutions.

Following "a lengthy and thorough process", a news release explained, the working party conducting the consultation judged that there is no wish to revise them. A little over half of the greater than 1,000 responses said that they were happy with the resolutions as they stand.

Of the half who felt that there should be change, there was a wide range of opinion as to whether they should be relaxed or made stricter. As a result, the Council will recommend to the Conference that there be no revision.

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