Conference days 6 & 7 - including the whole family of God

I have felt that both yesterday and today have been interesting and productive days. I've enjoyed the debate, the getting up to speak in front of people, the speed of the business and the pressure of keeping up with which of the many pieces of paper we're on. For me, now that I've got the hang of it, it works. However I know that a lot of people do and would struggle to engage with the last two days. We are all different and all need to be enabled to contribute, which is why yesterday Sam (ex Youth President) and I brought a notice of motion aiming to create space for the way Conference is done to be reconsidered. You can find the text of the Notice of Motion here : http://www.methodistconference.org.uk/media/198578/noms%20yellow%20tuesday%209%20july.pdf (208, second one down)

(A notice of motion is an idea which is brought by people during Conference and is voted on by Conference. Sometimes they are related to report which are already part of the agenda, sometimes they are a new thing, like ours)

I am really excited that the Notice of Motion was passed and felt a huge sense of achievement. Yes the work hasn't been done yet but I do actually feel like I've made a difference now as this important topic will be seriously thought about. It could be something that makes a significant difference to our church governance.

In society big advances have been made in the field of learning and the way people are naturally best able to understand things. We know that people learn in different ways - for example through listening, through doing, or through discussing. When I have worked in schools recently I have found that there is much more variety in the way things are taught than there was when I was a pupil. The church needs to pay attention to these advances.

For some standing up and speaking in front of 300 people is unimaginable. For some focusing on a debate style meeting from 9.30am to 7pm (with breaks) is impossible. Many lay people work during the week and therefore find it difficult to attend Conference. There are other ways of doing it. 3Generate has drastically changed the way that the voices of children and young people are heard, now including varied, active, creative and ever improving forms of conferring. I really believe we need to take this experimental attitude and give it a go within the whole church. The Methodist Church in Britain needs to seriously consider how effective it is in enabling the ordinary 'person in the pew' - young, old or in between - to engage with the decision making processes of our church, which are meant to be accessible to all. I quote from the Methodist Church website:

'decisions are made as openly as possible, giving opportunities for all to contribute. It is important for all views to be heard and taken seriously, especially where Christians disagree'

We need to make more of an effort to include the whole family of God in our governance structures and processes - at all levels - so we really are creating opportunities for all to contribute. The majority of our church members are switched off to the decision making processes of our church and if we really are who we say we are, we need to try harder to hear those voices.  I am grateful to the members of Conference for supporting this step.

Back to the general update - so yesterday was a good day, and today was also a good day. Lots discussed and excellent contributions from the 3Generate reps, including a successful Notice of Motion from Roxanne which means that the Larger than Circuit discussions will now include consultation with children and young people. Both days included a profile-raising event for our partnership with the Street Child World Cup, along with the Methodist Churches in Nicaragua and Brazil. Yesterday we did a flash mob blowing whistles and saying a prayer and a poem, and today was the Methodist Celebrity vs Methodist Children and Youth football match. I am sad to say that the Celebrities won 10-7, but pleased to say that it was hugely fun and got a good amount of attention for the Street Child World Cup. You can find out more about our work with SCWC here: http://www.childrenandyouth.org.uk/big-sleepover/scwc/ You can also see the blogs of the last two days from the 3Generate reps here http://3generatereps.wordpress.com/ and their video blogs here http://twitter.yfrog.com/315crksbdgrexrhcmorrpmavz?sa=0 and here http://twitter.yfrog.com/17x46ebmdnatvrwtcwcebvsrz?sa=0

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