Wednesday, 3 December 2008
All friends around The Wrekin
'All friends around the Wrekin' was a Victorian song in my grandfather's collection. As a child I always wondered where The Wrekin was. Now I know!
The President and I spent last weekend on an invigorating tour of the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District, hosted by the District Chaair John Howard and his wife Mary and superbly organised by Brenda Shuttleworth, the District Administrator.
Wrekin College in Wellington was the setting for a District day entitled 'Channels of Peace - encounters with the World Church'.
The District has formed a link with the Church in Rwanda and this was an opportunity to meet Anastase and Julienne (pictured with myself and the President) who were on a three week visit to Britain. They spoke powerfully of the after-effects of the genocide in their country and of the work of reconciliation being undertaken by the churches.
Earlier in the year a group of 19 young people from the District had visited Rwanda and they told their stories - for many it had been a life changing experience. They spoke of the warmth of the welcome they had received, the singing and dancing, the wealth of faith and the material poverty of their hosts, the testimonies of those who had lost many members of their families .
There were opportunities to watch DVD's and to hear about the work of the Methodist Relief and Development Fund in Ethiopia from their representative Susanna.
The President talked about how the World Church was encouraging and challenging the Church in this country and I explored some of the effects of the current global financial crisis on the poorest nations in the world.
We were well catered for by the ladies of the Circuit (pictured) and it felt a really mind- and heart-expanding day. At its end I was pleased to meet yet another predecessor of mine, Leon Murray (pictured below), whose daughter Clare had been one of the District Youth team who made such an effective presentation.
The previous evening the President and I had been entertained to a splendid meal hosted by the Black Country Industrial and Urban Mission.
This was a good ecumenical gathering with Anglicans and Quakers and I was able to lead a lively discussion on Ethical Business - there was understandably much comment about the current economic situation and the implications for the way business (not just the banking business) is organised in the future. Being positive, let us hope that the lessons being learnt are not quickly forgotten...