The Church's history of its journey towards inclusivity is, and always has been, central to its understanding of what it means to be disciples witnessing to and sharing God's love.
The 2017 Methodist Conference passed a resolution that confessed the sin of racism, and in seeking to confess that sin, recognised the considerable amount of work still required by the Connexion in order to achieve greater equality, diversity and inclusion.
This develops the long, active and pioneering tradition of engaging with EDI issues which effectively started in 1928 when work on gender justice was taken to the Wesleyan Methodist Conference that year.
The report from the EDI Committee recognised that even though the membership of the Church is declining, its diversity is increasing. In the London District, for example, it is estimated that more than 66% of members had their places of family origin outside the UK.
The Conference agreed to urge all churches, Circuits, Districts and Connexional bodies to engage with the EDI Toolkit which looks at the law, theological underpinning, age, class and economic justice, disability and impairment, gender, race, sexual orientation, same sex couples and their families, poverty, being made in God's image, domestic abuse and most recently the definition and guidance about homophobia, which was adopted by the 2016 Conference.
The toolkit is designed to support the discipleship and mission of the Methodist Church and enrich the life of the Church in seeking to equip Methodists to go beyond legal compliance, being based on the principle that all humankind is made in God's image, and therefore worthy of dignity and respect.
It's also about the gospel values and behaviours that Christians want to share with the wider communities in which they live, work and serve.
To find out more, please visit the EDI section of the Methodist Church website: www.methodist.org.uk/edi
The EDI Officer for the Chester & Stoke-on-Trent Methodist District is Revd Julie Hassall.