This office was first created as a result of a report to the Conference on Leadership in the Methodist Church (Agenda 2002, pp 165-187). The intention was that the Connexional Team should be strengthened by bringing together the roles undertaken by the then Conference Office and the Co-ordinating Secretaries into a unified management and leadership team, with one person being designated as its executive leader (‘chief executive’), who would have the responsibility of leading the development of the vision, mission and strategy of the Church as a whole. It was agreed that the role should be fulfilled by the person who was also appointed as the Secretary of the Conference, and should be for a presbyter.
The Revd David Deeks was appointed as the first General Secretary in 2003. Further refining of the role has taken place as a result of Conference reviews (see e.g. Senior Leadership in the Methodist Church (Agenda 2007 pp. 86-110); Leading and Presiding (Agenda 2010 pp. 77-119)), but it continues to be a dual role, exercised by a presbyter. The Revd Dr Martyn Atkins was appointed upon the Revd David Deeks’ retirement in 2008,2008 and held office until 2015.
The Conference of 2014 adopted proposals contained in a review of the dual role (Agenda pp. 190-209) for a structure whereby the Secretary of the Conference would be the senior person in a three person senior team with the Assistant Secretary of the Conference and the Connexional Secretary who would both report to him or her. The executive leadership responsibilities referred to above were vested in the Secretary of the Conference, the title ‘General Secretary’ being discontinued. The Revd Gareth Powell was appointed as the Secretary of the Conference to work within this structure in 2015.