Friday, 6 March 2009

Back Home in Wales

It was wonderful to be back in Wales where I had served for 11 years as university chaplain in Cardiff and also sharing ministry with Myrtle at Cathays Methodist Church. Stephen Wigley, the present Chair of the Wales Synod was university chaplain in Swansea and the other chaplains during some of my time there were Peter Barber at Aberystwyth and Will Morrey in Bangor...... what is it about Wales?

Stephen took me to visit the redeveloped premises at Mumbles where the Tourist Information Office is in the church alongside a wonderful coffee shop. Seen here with the minister and super Howard Long.

There was a well attended lunch time service where I met many people who remembered me from long ago and also new Christians who have found faith through the ministry of this church.

Later in the day we were at St Michael's College in Llandaff where some Methodists are completing their Foundation training as well others for ordination alongside a good number of those preparing for ministry in the Church in Wales. It was good to meet with the 3 Methodist students along with Luke Curran to encourage them and listen to their stories.

This visit has been one of re-connecting with people who have greatly influenced me through the years. When we gathered with ministers and spouses, active and retired, it was starnge speaking to a group in which were my former super, Tom Davies and my former Chairman, Donald Knighton.

I met new people over the lunch preared by the wonderful Judy, who has been the District administrator for over 20 years and is as lovely and effeicient as ever! It was a joy to meet Irfan John and his wife Raheela who came from Pakistan, fleeing from persecution, as a Presbyterian minister but is now working in the Cardiff circuit and wider District with ethnic minosrity congregations. Teddy Kalongo came to us 18 months ago from the United Church of Zambia and is having a good ministry in Penarth and for me it was good to share with him as I worked as a VSO in Zambia 30 years ago!

The Wales Synod, like many Districts, has been looking at reconfiguring for mission over recent years long before the term mapping a way forward came into it was both interesting and exciting to meet with supers and some lay people who are forming two new will encompass Pontypool, Ebbw Vale,Abergavenny, Abertillery, Blackwood and Cwmbran with 35 churches and 7 ministers. The planning for this has already brought rejuvination and new energy. The other new circuit will encompass Newport, Chepstow and Monmouth having 22 churches and 7.5 minister. Here too their is a new buzz but for all there were the cvoncerns of how we can do new things within an old frame work and the need for Standing Orders to enable these new and ecxiting ways of working.

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