The Methodist Conference is the governing body of the Methodist Church. As Conference only meets once a year, the Methodist Council undertakes ongoing work on behalf of the Conference. The Council meets quarterly for two or three days at a time.
The Council comprises 53 people and I am one of 31 District Representatives, including one each from Synod Cymru (Welsh Speaking) and Wales Synod. The rest are the Council Chair (1); Presidents and Vice-Presidents of Conference (6); Secretary & Assistant Secretary of Conference (2); Connexional Treasurer (1); representatives of the District Chairs Meeting (4), the Strategy & Resources Committee (3), Youth Organisations (2), Race & Diversity Groups (2) and Deacons (1).
Think of our church in terms of being networked or inter-connected together. Working from local level we have a group of churches which are networked in a Circuit. Circuits are networked together into Districts, and there are 30 of these in England, Scotland and Wales; 31 if you count Wales twice. Districts are networked together nationally and regionally and Cumbria is part of the NW region extending from the Scottish border to Stoke-on-Trent. The whole network is called the 'Connexion'. We also have links between the Methodist Church here and churches in other countries, other denominations and other faiths.
Some issues are best dealt with locally, others at District level and still others nationally. The kind of issues that crop up at national level tend to be ones associated with strategy, the overall game plan; for example, how should we train our ministers and laity.