After his term as President of the Methodist Conference, the Rev Harry Morton set up the President’s Commission on Spirituality, which reported to the Conference of 1974. The commission had about 24 members, lay and ordained, drawn from across the Connexion; the chair was Rev Gordon Wakefield and the secretary was Rev John Taylor. One topic which the Commission explored was the adoption of a Rule of Life – a daily pattern of prayer and discipline – for Methodists. In addition, it encouraged the connexion to promote church retreats, quiet days and church family weekends, for fellowship, study and spiritual enrichment.
Retreats have long been a part of the life of both the Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions. The commission report introduced Methodists to this practice of taking time away for quiet reflection in which to deepen our relationship with God and become more aware of God’s presence and activity in our lives. The result was a growing take-up of church away times, and themed weekends, and an increased interest in the Retreat movement.
About thirty representatives of a range of bodies and constituencies met at Cliff College from 26 to 27 October 2016 for a consultation on spirituality in the Methodist Church. The consultation was held under the auspices of the Methodist Church’s Connexional Learning Network and was facilitated by Edel McClean, Learning & Development officer in the North West & Mann team, and previously retreat leader and spiritual director at Loyola Hall. In calling the consultation it was recognised that there is a great deal of significant work with spirituality which is happening within British Methodism but there is a need for communication and collaboration between those who are engaged in developing and deepening spirituality.