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 Driffield Hornsea 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."