Download statement in PDF here: District Statement about opening buildings
Following the recent announcement to allow churches to open for private prayer from the 15th June, the Superintendents of the Circuits of the Liverpool District conferred together to agree a way forward.
Whilst recognising that some of our buildings have been open throughout the lockdown for essential reasons, such as hosting the foodbank or providing meals to vulnerable people, the decision was made not to open the Methodist Churches across the District for individual private prayer even though we have the permission of the government to do so.
There are several reasons for this:
1. The Methodist Church in Britain has decided not to make any change to its position until after the Methodist Conference has met at the end of June so there is no change in the connexional guidance.
2. Methodist Churches are primarily places where we gather in community to worship God. The practice of individual private prayer is something Methodists take very seriously, but it does not require a church building for it to happen. In fact, the Methodist tradition encourages believers to develop the practice of regular personal devotions, recognising that prayers can be offered and God encountered at all times and in all places.
3. To open buildings requires comprehensive risk assessments for churches and these have not yet been carried out. Without these, Managing Trustees might be held personally liable (that is, not covered by insurance) if there was a claim against them
4. There are procedures concerning cleaning and sanitising, distancing, and movement through the building, that need to be in place and enforced when we resume meeting together, and these have not been agreed at this stage.
5. We need to ensure that those opening and managing our buildings are not those in the ‘highest risk’ categories and, at present we cannot guarantee this to be the case. Furthermore, there are concerns to protect not only those who are vulnerable but also those who live in households where someone is shielding. We need to act in the best interests of the wider population, which is a more complex matter than the opening up and managing buildings.
6. The Reinfection rate (R Number) in the North West is the highest in the country at the moment and we remain cautious about the spread of infection in our region.
The Revd Dr Sheryl Anderson, Chair of District
11th June 2020
Please pray for one another, and for our church in this process of discernment and decision making. The Methodist website provides some prayer resources for each day of the week here.
2. Provisional Legislation
The Methodist Conference 2019 voted for provisional legislation which would change our approach to marriage and relationships. This was through a report called: God in Love Unites Us. As a result we are now consulting across the District in preparation for a vote at our Synod on 25th April 2020.
The vote will be on five resolutions as set out in this document.
Our votes and responses will then go forward to Methodist Conference 2020 for a final decision.
Our conversations will seek to achieve two things:
- a full open conversation between people coming from different perspectives;
- to inform the District Synod of the range of views within the District.
We have trained a number of people to facilitate these conversations. You can access various documents and study guides below.
- Find the full report here: God in Love Unites Us
- Or in large print here: God in Love Unites Us (Large Print)
- And here is the official Methodist Church study guide: God in Love Unites Us Study Guide
- Cumbria District have produced an extended study guide which includes some helpful resources for looking at what Biblical sources about marriage and relationships have to say. Find their study guide here.
- Methodist Evangelicals Together provide resources from a traditional perspective. Find their website here.
- Dignity and Worth provide resources from a perspective which looks for change in our current practice. Find their website here.
- Other resources are available from the Methodist Church in Britain website here: Marriage and Relationships resources