Tuesday, 21 October 2008
The grace of Birmingham!!
These past few days I've been in Birmingham staying with my friend Bill Anderson. We entered Queens College the same year to begin our ministerial training but he was much older than me!! He's wearing well but sadly had been called to Jury service these past two weeks and having already postponed once he wasn't allowed to use even the excuse of the visit of the President of Conference to get out of it.
I was invited to visit the 3 newly created circuits. This began on the Wednesday by spending time with people in the Coventry and Nuneaton circuit. There are some imaginative things going onand I was able to catch a glimpse of the rich diversity this new and large circuits contains. It was good to spend time at the University of warwick with the chaplainStuart Jennings. The ministry through this multi faith chaplaincy centre is of a very high calibre. We must continue to put our resources into these front line areas of mission - we neglect them at our peril!
The following day was with the staff of the new Blackheath & Halesowen circuit. The two ministers, Paul andRichard, showed me around all six of their churches which included parents and toddlers, a Live at Home scheme - where I joined in the line dancing (photos hopefully to follow); popping into a housegroup in the afternoon and sharing in a circuit healing service in the evening.
I was deeply impressed by the vision and courage of the small congregationat Long Lane who have unanimously decided to move from their present site and purchase a shop unit on the main road - these are wonderful premises with a whole host of possibilities for mission and outreach.
The photo shows the minister, richard with the District Mission Enabler, Michelle, who organised a very successful Fresh Expression Day in Worcester on the Saturday.
Bill invites the Methodist students from queens to his manse at the beginning of each year so took the opportunity of having David and I in the District. We had a good time together, especially as we discovered two of the students were celebrating their birthday, and remembered to take a photo only after most of them had left to go home!! I was impressed by the quality of those we met from within our own Conference as well as those who are among us from the wider World Church studying or preparing for ministry in our own Conference.
After the FX day in worcester Bill took David and I to Evesham to visit the church which has twice been affected by the floods these past two years, The church people have quietly got on with repairing and renovating their premises and we were impressed by all they have done. In trhe basement they have rerpaired all the damage and laid a new floor with its own labyrinth built in.
when we gathered with some of the people from across the circuit the Vice-President launched into a Lancashire dialect poem about Noah and the ark.....he had everyone laughing and was clearly enjoying himself
On the Sunday David was in Birmingham and I had an early start to get to Hereford where I shared in the morning worship at St John's. At Breakout in July I had met some of the youth leaders from this circuit and agreed to remain for the evening to see if we could do something a bit different.....we had a packed church with people from all the churches of this newly created circuit....sat in small groups, the young people did a great piece of drama which helped set the scene, as we focused our worship on the weakness and vulnerability of Christ which becomes the power and strength of God's grace.
I saw again and again during these few days signs of God's amazing grace. Thank you to all those who shared this with me.......and I hope Bill doesn't get called to jury service this week and end up as part of a trial that lasts for months....his District need his love and grace!!