Methodist Church Acts

Until the 20th century the legal foundation of the various Methodist denominations was non-statutory, being based mainly upon various trust deeds (see Deed of Declaration; Model Deed). In the 20th century, the legal framework became built instead upon various Acts of Parliament, enacted by the private bill procedure. Thus at Methodist Union, the authority of the Uniting Conference in 1932 to promulgate the Deed of Union was conferred by the Methodist Church Union Act 1929. (The 1907 Union had similarly been enabled by the United Methodist Church Act 1907.)

The Methodist Church Act 1939 constituted and incorporated the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. The Methodist Church Funds Act 1960 constituted and incorporated the *Central Finance Board and widened the investment powers.

With effect from 16 April 1977 the 1929 Act was repealed and replaced (not without controversy at the Committee stage) by the Methodist Church Act 1976 which is now the principal legislation upon which the constitutional structure of the Methodist Church is built. The 1976 Act, inter alia, provided for the definition of the purposes of the Methodist Church and extended the Conference's power to amend the Deed of Union to include amending the doctrinal standards clause. It altered the position of trustees, replacing the Model Deed by Model Trusts (Schedule 2 to the Act), with power for Conference to amend them. It vested Model Trust property in custodian trustees (see Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes) and defined the managing trustees.

See also Finance, ministerial

  • Constitutional Practice and Discipline, Vol. 1 (1988)
  • G.T. Brake, Policy and Politics in British Methodism 1932-1982 (1984) ch. 5
  • [Methodist Church Act, 1976:]
  • George W. Dolbey, 'The Methodist Church Act, 1976', in WHS Proceedings, 41 pp.97-103
  • Methodist Recorder, 11 April 2002 p.16