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New president of Methodist Conference: Racism hasn't been totally eradicated from our Church

by Tola Mbakwe
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The new president of the Methodist Conference believes the Church has work to do in regards fighting racial injustice. 

Rev Richard Teal told Premier: "The Methodist Church in Britain believes strongly that racism is a denial of the gospel. And we have to be honest, it has not been totally eradicated from our Church. It's still a problem despite excellent work which has been going on over many, many years."

Rev Teal was inducted in an online ceremony on 27th June, along with the new vice-president of the Methodist Conference Carolyn Lawrence. 

At a meeting of the Church's governing body on Monday, the Church voted to bolster its work on equality, diversity and inclusion.

Rev Teal told Premier the Church has "redoubled its efforts" to be more inclusive. 

"We are now actively working on the implementation of the 'Inclusive Methodist Church Strategy', that we will be a Church that commits itself totally to challenging all forms discrimination, and creating a church where people from every single background are welcomed and feel really safe from abuse or discrimination. 

"That's the Methodism I want to see and need to see because it is speaks of God's kingdom."

But when asked if the Methodist Church was ethnically diverse in tis leadership, Rev Teal said it's something the Church has to work on. 

He told Premier: "It is there, but it's not there as strong as it should be," he said. 

"We are, like it or not, a white majority Church. But we do have people in leadership from other cultures and backgrounds, but we need more of it. We need a greater diversity within the Methodist Church and I think that probably is true for every single church as well." 

The new president has spent the majority of his ministry in rural areas, but said in light of recent tensions he has decided to personally explore the issue of racism. 

"How do you really get into somebody else's shoes to be where they are and understand where they are, and the reality of where they are? 

"And I'm hoping in this year for me personally, that that's something I'm going to be able to try to really get into where somebody is, to really listen, to really hear their story."

On Monday, a member of the Methodist Conference, Antony Boateng, proposed that the Methodist Council seeks to build "strategic anti-racist actions that call for the raising up of individuals especially those hurting from this issue".

He also asked that the Council ensure that those working on the 'Inclusive Methodist Church Strategy' are supported by a diverse group of skilled and committed people with the relevant experience and understanding to develop the plans. 

His proposal also called for recognition that the main leadership of the church, the chairs of district, lay workers and superintendents, as well as its own members, do not sufficiently reflect diversity.

At Mr Boateng's request, the Conference observed a period of silence to reflect on the topic.

Listen to Premier's interview with Rev Richard Teal here: 

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