The Work of the Susanna Wesley Foundation
Appendix to the Southlands Methodist Trust’s Report to the Strategy and Resources Committee of the Methodist Church – September 2015
The Susanna Wesley Foundation is establishing a community of scholarship, research and innovation at Southlands College informed by the needs of the Methodist Church and with the aim of producing outputs and outcomes which will be of benefit to the Church. The Foundation is identifying, supporting and promoting opportunities for research, enquiry and dialogue around issues of learning, diversity, change and transformation, leadership and organization in the context of Christian ministry and faith communities, particularly the Methodist Church.
The impetus for the establishment of the Susanna Wesley Foundation came from marrying the purposes of the Southlands Methodist Trust, as determined by Methodist Council, with various indicators about the needs of the Church in terms of scholarship, research and innovation (SRI). These needs were identified through a Connexion-wide consultation exercise conducted as part of the Fruitful Field process, input from those involved in research in the Connexional Team and information provided by former District Officers, as well as a knowledge of different local contexts. Positive responses from the senior leadership in the Connexional Team and from the wider Church, and endorsement by the Chair of the Network Committee, has led to confidence in progressing the work of the Foundation. This work has been well-received by ecumenical and academic partners, and welcomed by various constituencies in the Methodist Church, with invitations and commissions from local churches and communities as well as the leaders and officers of the DMLN.
The Foundation is drawing on expertise available via the University and, whilst it’s primary connection is to Roehampton’s Business School (since it is based in Southlands College and specializes in those academic areas identified as of relevance), it is forging relationships with other academic departments, notably theology and education, and with academics from other universities. It is also working with officers in the Methodist Church’s Discipleship & Ministries Learning Network, with the London District, and with Methodist circuits and local communities.
There are various stands to the Foundation’s work reflecting the combination of research, support for learning and innovation, and practical resources for churches and communities which are at the heart of its contribution. The following illustrates the range of activities in which it is involved.