The Rev Richard Teal has been inducted as the new President of the Methodist Conference.
The ceremony took place during Conference on Saturday at Cliff College in Derbyshire.
Conference is the annual legislative meeting of the Methodist Church, where policies and measures are adopted. It had been due to take place in Telford this year but was moved online for the first time ever due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Rev Teal succeeds the Rev Dr Barbara Glasson in the role of President.
He grew up in the Yorkshire Dales and has spent the majority of his ministry in rural areas. He spent 11 years as Chair of the Cumbria District and is currently Superintendent of the Beverley Circuit in East Yorkshire.
Addressing Conference for the first time as President, he spoke of the impact of coronavirus on the Church.
“Who would ever have thought a few months ago we would have had to close our doors and lock them, even at Easter,” he said.
“Many of our congregations are feeling totally disorientated, fearful and cut off from the fellowship we enjoy with each other.”
Rather than a return to business as usual, he said the end of lockdown was an opportunity for transformation in the Church.
“Not a return to the same old same old but a church which has the reputation for transformation, for recreation and for empowerment of what we are living through in the present in response to a faithful God who redeems history and promises the brightest of futures,” he said.
He was inducted alongside the new Vice-President, Carolyn Lawrence, who has served as an educational mission partner in Guyana, and as a voluntary preacher and leader in the Methodist Church.
She has also worked with the Church’s Global Relationships team engaging people with its international network of Partner Churches.
“One thing that I find awe inspiring about the church is that you can be anywhere in the country or the world and know that you can find family,” she told Conference.
“I have had the experience of worshipping with Christians in lots of different places in the world, most recently on my visit to the Methodist Church in Brazil.
“Here the church is growing at an amazing rate and I was blown away by their passion for God’s word, their commitment to prayer, their systematic and strategic approach to evangelism, theological training and pastoral care and the exuberance and joy of their worship.
“During the year to come I hope to share some of the key principles of church growth that I have learned from the church in Brazil as I believe they can also be applied to our church here in Britain.”