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Methodist report: need to go beyond concept of nuclear family

A new study has raised questions about the common concept of ‘family’.

A new study has raised questions about the common concept of ‘family’.

Through a range of surveys, interviews, consultations and research, a new collaborative study, by the Consultative Group on Ministry among Children and the Methodist Church, has found that church family workers are engaging with a growing range of family types.

The ‘We are Family’ research was released at the family ministry conference of the same name which took place last week at Liverpool Hope University. Along with the launch of the study, the weekend saw attendees participate in a new Core Skills for Family Ministry training course and partake in discussions, seminars and an interview with Carrie Longton, co-founder of Mumsnet.

In addition to encouraging a greater emphasis on diversity in understanding what is meant by ‘family’, the study promotes a deeper level of ministry that embraces variety and offers support to both churchgoing families and those outside of the Church.

Gail Adcock, Families Ministries Development Officer in the Methodist Church, said “Our understanding of family needs to go beyond the concept of the nuclear family to encompass a diversity of relationships. Once we recognise this, we can adopt more inclusive language and respond more effectively to minister and support families in the contexts that they are in.

“If we are to be effective family workers, we can’t just presume all families are the same. We must treat each family as unique and provide relevant support to them in the circumstances that they are in.”

Penny Fuller, moderator of the CGMC, added “Family ministry across the UK is growing, with many new projects starting. It’s not just happening on a Sunday, but is taking place in a range of different contexts, engaging with a great diversity of families. In this growing area of ministry, it is essential that the Church provides suitable training and support.

"Our biggest challenge now is how we enable an intergenerational engagement in all areas of our ministries and not segregate them into silos.”

Click here for the full report

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