Below - Alison, Mark, Carrie and Phil :City Centre Networkers at Swanwick)
Having survived the Youth Conference I journeyed from Northampton to Peterborough on a wild and woolly evening for a Circuit Service at Westgate Church. This is a joint Methodist/URC Church which has major redevelopment plans as part of a city centre development.
I was welcomed by the Minister Kerry Tankard and the Superintendent Jan Tate; Alison Barnett provided an entertaining drama and Anthea Cox was among the musicians. It was good to catch up with another predecessor of mine, Brian Thornton, who was flying off the following day to see friends from the Methodist Church in Jamaica.
On the Friday of last week I had been invited to speak at the City Centre Network Conference at the Hayes Centre in Swanwick.
This brought together some 60 presbyters, deacons and lay workers who are involved in a whole variety of mission activity in town and city centres up and down the country. It was encouraging to get a feel for some very exciting and innovative work which is being undertaken by our churches - not always in the most comfortable of settings.
But under the active chairmanship of the Rev Phil Mason there is a creative buzz around the Network members - the Conference Centre Manager said he had not heard so much laughter from any other group staying there!
They had already been inspired by the other two speakers - Ann Morisey and the Rev Martyn Atkins - and were brought down to earth by my own talk on some of the legal issues surrounding the new Charities Act and what to look out for when undertaking new building schemes. However, a final Communion Service sent us on our way with lighter step and a renewed sense of what we are about - being living signs of God's Kingdom in the midst of the city.