New President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference elected and inducted online

The Revd Richard Teal has been elected and inducted as the new President of the Methodist Conference, taking over from the Revd Dr Barbara Glasson. The induction took place on Saturday 27 June at Cliff College in Derbyshire, as part of the Methodist Conference which is, for the first time, taking place online.

During his lifetime John Wesley chaired the Methodist Conference but after his death the Conference determined to elect a President annually.

Richard Teal comes from a farming background, having grown up in the Yorkshire Dales. He has spent the majority of his ministry in rural areas, including 11 years as Chair of the Cumbria District. He is now Superintendent of the Beverley Circuit in East Yorkshire.

In his Conference address Richard Teal focused on how the last few months of coronavirus and lockdown had affected the Church:

“Who would ever have thought a few months ago we would have had to close our doors and lock them, even at Easter! Many of our congregations are feeling totally disorientated, fearful and cut off from the fellowship we enjoy with each other.”

Looking ahead at how the world can adapt to the impact of the pandemic, the President said:

“Not a return to the same old same old but a church which has the reputation for transformation, for recreation and for empowerment of what we are living through in the present in response to a faithful God who redeems history and promises the brightest of futures.”

The President chose the final words of John Wesley as his theme for this year, ’The best of all is, God is with us’.

The Vice-President, Carolyn Lawrence, was also elected and inducted this afternoon. A teacher by training, Carolyn was an educational mission partner in Guyana and has worked in a voluntary capacity within the Methodist Church as a preacher and leader. More recently she has worked with the Global Relationships team of the Methodist Church helping to engage people with our worldwide network of Partner Churches. She is also part of the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women. 

Carolyn spoke of her passion for the world church in her address to the Conference:

“One thing that I find awe inspiring about the church is that you can be anywhere in the country or the world and know that you can find family.”

“I have had the experience of worshipping with Christians in lots of different places in the world, most recently on my visit to the Methodist Church in Brazil.  Here the church is growing at an amazing rate and I was blown away by their passion for God’s word, their commitment to prayer, their systematic and strategic approach to evangelism, theological training and pastoral care and the exuberance and joy of their worship.  During the year to come I hope to share some of the key principles of church growth that I have learned from the church in Brazil as I believe they can also be applied to our church here in Britain.”

The text and video of the Presidential address is available here.

The text and video of the Vice-Presidential address is here.

The Secretary of Conference

The Revd Dr Jonathan Hustler has been a member of the Connexional Team since 2014 and was Assistant Secretary of the Conference since 2017. Prior to this he was the Ministerial Coordinator for Oversight of Ordained Ministries in the Connexional Team.

He has a wide experience of ministry having entered circuit ministry after graduating from Wesley House, Cambridge in Theology and Religious Studies during which time he studied as a Finch Scholar in Rome for a year. He was ordained in 1992 and served in three circuit appointments over 20 years, in Leighton Buzzard and Stewkley, Cleveland, and Mid-Lincolnshire (including 10 years as Superintendent). He returned to Wesley House in 2011 as Vice-Principal and Director of Pastoral Studies.

Jonathan obtained his PhD in Mediaeval Ecclesiastical History through part-time study during his first two circuit appointments and has served on a number of committees in the Church and as a District Ecumenical Officer. His involvement in the training of local preachers and ministers has been extensive and he continues to write on pastoral theology, preaching and church history.

Jonathan is married to Lesley and they have two adult children. He is an avid Archers listener and has published articles and spoken about the long-running radio soap.

The Methodist Church in Great Britain is still organised in a methodical way using many of the structures introduced by its founder, John Wesley. However, the Church is quite pragmatic, and is willing to make changes where they seem desirable. 

Structures exist to enable decision making that takes account of all concerns and views within the Church. No one is given supreme authority, but consultation is vital. At the same time, Churches cannot simply arrange their own affairs, but have some shared disciplines and ways of working. Methodists belong to local churches or ecumenical partnerships, but also feel part of a larger connected community, i.e., the Connexion.

Being connected

This sense of being ‘connected’ makes a difference to how the Methodist Church as a whole is structured. At its heart is an understanding of the Christian community as the 'body of Christ'. Just as a human body contains different limbs and organs that depend on each other, so we should be close and caring enough to feel each other's pain and delight. We should put the good of the whole body before our own individual needs.

When ministers or deacons are ordained in the Methodist Church, they are also 'received into full Connexion.’ Included in the British Methodist Connexion are all the districts of Scotland, Wales and England, along with the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and Shetland.

“Do not allow yourself one thought of separating from your brothers and sisters, whether their opinions agree with yours or not.” (John Wesley)

Find out more here about our calling, our structure, the views and doctrine of the Methodist Church, and more about what makes Methodism distinctive:

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