Just got in from the Northampton District visit. Friday evening found us in Leicester (Martyn had been to a meeting about inter faith work which I just caught the end of in the afternoon which sounded really interesting). We enjoyed a meal with Jill and Clive March then off to Street Pastors where Andrew, Jill, Trevor and Dennis were the team on the street and Andrea looked after Alison Tomlin (District Chair) and Martyn and I who were observers. Barry and Peter were acting as base control and providers of refreshments. We went out and walked up and down the main streets where the pubs and clubs are. The real members wore street pastor clothing so that people knew who they were and a number of young people greeted them warmly, as did police officers, pub managers and homeless people living on the streets. It is really important work, reaching out to people who need anything from a listening ear to help mopping themselves up after being sick, from ringing an ambulance to finding their friends and being given flip flops to shield their bare feet when those ultra high stilettoes have proved too much. A great night out until 3 am. Keep up the good work guys.
On Saturday we moved to Northampton and I parted company with Martyn. I stayed with Andy and Kathy, more good hospitality, and I was fetched to go to Aylesbury Vale where we held an agape service which I found very helpful and I hope the people there did too. My geography has never been very good so I was feeling a little lost as to where I was exactly in the terms of the District.
My sense of direction continued to be challenged on Sunday when I went south to Stony Stratford but fortunately I was being picked up by a member of the church. We had a great time there. The service was in a school hall because there were too many people for the church. It was a special Wesley service with Mark Topping dressed as Wesley enacting one of Wesley's sermons. Rousing Wesley hymns. Excellent. (A bit more bling envy as the new Mayor was present.) Then we went out with the minister, Mindy, to Weley's tree where I unveiled a plaque on the replacement for a tree which it is thought Wesley preached beneath. (The old tree died of Dutch Elm disease). Then a celebratory anniversary cake was cut and I gave a short talk, ate a quick sandwich and was whisked off by my next chauffeur who took me to pick up my car in Leicester before going to the Rutland and Stamford Circuit for the annual Barn service. (This was definitely north of Stony Stratford!)
There was an afternoon programme with a wonderful Pentecost drama by the minimal Theatre Company and then the children and young people went off for crafts and games whilst I gave a talk before we all had a picnic tea. The service included the commissioning of 3 Worship Leaders and it was a privilege to congratulate sue, Rosemary and Pauline on this special occasion. The music was wonderfully done although I thought the preacher seemed a bit weary!
A good weekend and a safe journey home. Allelujah.