15 April 2015, The Tablet

Methodist Church reveals anti-bullying and harassment guidelines

The Methodist Church is to take steps to tackle bullying and harassment in its ranks.

It will include the creation of guidelines for promoting good working relationships and managing conflict within the Church and training people to deal with it appropriately. The plans, drawn up by the Methodist Council this week, will go before the annual Methodist Conference for approval when it meets in July. They also include the setting aside of £140,000 to fund further work on handling the problem.

The move is described as a response to recently-voiced concerns about the vulnerability of churches to destructive patterns of behaviour. It also flags up the Methodists’ determination  to be a safe and inclusive community. Council members affirmed that bullying and harassment were always unacceptable and that dealing well with these issues in a church context is vitally important.

Tony Tidey, the Council’s Connexional Wellbeing Adviser, said: “It is uncomfortable and difficult to admit that bullying and harassment do sometimes occur in our churches, but the decision, and the recommendations that will be made to the Conference in July, are something to be proud of. By clearly stating our commitment to addressing this issue, we are calling everyone in our churches to a standard of behaviour that should reflect our calling as Christians to treat one another with dignity and respect at all times.”

The recommendations include publicising the guidelines throughout the Church and the regular provision of training and support to District Reconciliation Groups to ensure that they are well equipped to deal with bullying and harassment issues.

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