Saturday, 15 December 2007

back home

Last weekend was spent 'back home' in the Leeds District. It was from that District that I candidated, and to that District I returned after theological college for my first ministerial appointment. How apt then (and thoughtful of the Leeds District officials) that I preached in the morning at my 'home' church, Otley, and in the evening at Hunslet, which endured my first stab at ministry between 1981-86. It was lovely to meet so many souls in both places, thank you all for your warm welcome and pledges of prayer. I confess I struggle a bit with 'acclaim' at the best of times, so this return home, while a lovely time, was a real struggle in this respect.

On Saturday lunchtime of the district visit I went to Elland Road to watch Leeds United best Huddersfield Town, four nil. Thanks for getting me in Paul, and yes, I'll gladly go every home match as a 'lucky mascot'. Saturday afternoon was spent in conversation with children's workers and supporters in the district, with great input from Jools Burton and Steve Day. We all know that our work and ministry among children and youth cultures is not what we would want, but what a lot we still do!

Monday was spent with ministers, again in conversation about some of my main themes: mission, renewal, the future etc. I have now engaged in such conversation several times and three things are emerging each time. First that there is a lot of fatigue and lack of energy and vision among some of us. Second, that in each district there are many things beginning to take shape which offer real encouragement and hope. Third, we feel trapped by 'systems' which, although they started out trying to facilitate our life and ministry, no longer do so. Overall, my view is that we are getting increasingly resolved that in cases where such systems can be changed to enhance our mission and ministry, we should get on with it, even at some cost.

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