President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference Elected for 2018/19
The Methodist Conference has elected the Revd Michaela Youngson to serve as President, and Bala Gnanapragasam to serve as Vice-President, starting their year of office when the Representative Session of the Methodist Conference meets in Nottingham next year.
Michaela has been Chair of the London District since 2012. With a passion for social justice and for developing strong ecumenical relationships, Michaela is committed to working within the diverse and rich context of the Connexion. She is a regular contributor to the BBC Radio 2 Early Breakfast Show’s ‘Pause for Thought’.
“I am delighted and humbled at the confidence shown in me by members of the Conference. The context of mission for the Methodist Church is challenging and exciting and I feel hugely privileged to be able to contribute to that in a new way,” said
Bala Gnanapragasam believes strongly in mission and social justice. He serves on the board of Christian Aid and MHA (formerly known as Methodist Homes for the Aged). He is also a trustee of the London HIV/Aids Chaplaincy. He was the first Synod Secretary for the London District.
Born in Sri Lanka, Bala came to the UK in the 1960s and has previously served as an elected councillor for the London Borough of Lewisham. He has also served as the Chair of University Hospital Lewisham.
Bala said: “It is both humbling and an honour to be elected to this position. I look forward to serving our great Church.”
The role of President of the Methodist Conference is reserved for presbyters (ministers) and Vice-President for lay people or deacons.
New Assistant Secretary of the Methodist Conference appointed
Following the recommendation from the Methodist Council, and today’s approval from the Methodist Conference, meeting in Birmingham from June 22-29, the Revd Dr Jonathan R Hustler has been appointed as the Assistant Secretary of the Conference, taking office for a period of six years from 1 September 2017.
Jonathan will be replacing the Revd Helen D Cameron, who is moving to become the Chair of the Northampton District of the Methodist Church.
Jonathan trained for the Methodist ministry at Wesley House Cambridge from 1987-90, and spent a year prior to his first station at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. His widespread experience of ministry has been gained through serving in a variety of places and roles across the country over the past 26 years.
Throughout his ministry, Jonathan has maintained a rigorous approach to scholarship, reading for his PhD while a circuit minister. From 2011-14 he served as Vice-Principal of Wesley House Cambridge, and since 2014 he has been serving as Ministerial Co-ordinator for the Oversight of Ordained Ministries in the Methodist Connexional Team.
Jonathan Hustler brings to the role of Assistant Secretary of the Conference a reflective, informed, faithful and compassionate style of ministry, which will undoubtedly foster the vocations and gifts of others as he celebrates the presence of God.
In response to the news, Jonathan said: “It is an honour to be asked to serve as an officer of the Conference and I am humbled by the trust that the Conference has placed in me. I am conscious both of the great tradition in which the Conference works to discern what God is saying the Church and of the challenges that we face in the present age, and I feel hugely privileged to be called to this office at this time.”