The Methodist Conference has received a major report challenging the Church to eliminate discrimination in an increasingly diverse Christian community.
This report is the result of a project initiated in 2004 by the Conference and carried out by the Equalities and Diversity Project, a representative group including members who have experienced oppression due to race, gender, sexuality and disability. The report shows the journey the Church has taken in considering these issues since 2004 and indicates the direction of future developments.
The report was presented for exploration by the wider Church, offering an opportunity for the Church to engage in its first comprehensive dialogue about the broad agenda of equalities and diversity. It addresses the many different kinds of discrimination faced by groups both with the churches but also in wider society including, sexism, racism, disablism and homophobia. It also outlines some of the stories that people in these situations have shared with the group.
The stories will be collected into a series of booklets to accompany a further report in 2009.
Alison Parker, Equalities and Diversity Project Worker for the Methodist Church, said: "This is a major step on the road to creating a more inclusive, welcoming and credible Church. The Church as the Body of Christ is an expression of unity in the great variety of God’s creation. This report has offered a challenging and exciting opportunity to hear the voices of the marginalised and those working for change in the Church."
The report identifies areas for further work on equalities and diversity in the Church including a theological exploration of the issues and the formulation of an equal opportunities policy for adoption by the Church in 2009.
Conference received the report and commended Equally Different?, a new equalities and diversity campaign resource for use in local churches, circuits and districts. This includes worship and Bible study materials for use by individuals and groups, resources for children and young people considering the issues and display materials such as posters and postcards.
A supporting website, http://www.methodistchurch.org.uk/equallydifferent, also offers the chance for people to share their own experiences and ideas.