Under the power given by the Methodist Church Union Act 1929, the Uniting Conference of 1932 adopted the Deed of Union setting out the basis of the union, including the constitution and doctrinal standards of the united Church. The Deed of Declaration (1784) and its equivalents were thereby superseded. The Act gave the Conference the power, provided specific procedure was followed, to amend the Deed, apart from the doctrinal standards clause. The Deed has been amended in many respects since 1932, and was extensively rearranged and revised in form in 1990.
Under section 5 of the Methodist Church Act 1976 (a provision which provoked controversy at the Bill stage) the Conference's power was extended to amending the clause (now clause 4) defining the doctrinal standards. This power has been exercised twice. In 1995, minor verbal changes were made (a) to delete wording which might have been seen as precluding the recognition of the diaconate as an order of ministry, and (b) to complete the process of adopting gender-inclusive language in the church's constitutional documents. In 2012, further minor verbal changes were made to reflect the adoption by the Conference of the changed usage as to 'minister', making distinctive reference to the ministry of 'presbyters' and 'deacons'.
The procedure for amending the deed is via a 'special resolution', i.e. one passed by the Conference by a 75% majority and, after appropriate consultation, confirmed at the following year's Conference by the same majority. Where it is proposed to amend the doctrinal standards clause, a 'deferred special resolution' is required, extending the period between the two Conference resolutions to two years and requiring wider consultation. 'Special resolutions' and 'deferred special resolutions', are defined by Section 2 of the Methodist Church Act.
Entry written by: SRH
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