Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Discovering Dover and Deal!

If I thought the journeys in the Southampton District were long I realise they were but preparing me for my time with John Hellyer in the South East District. Part of this is the joy of travelling so much on the M25 but also the geographical area which this new District covers. Our first day was an almost 2 hour trip down to the Dover and Deal circuit - which was a good day.

We went first to the Buckland estate in Dover where there are 3000 homes and about 7000 people. Crosslinks, a Methodist initiative became in 2000 an ecumenical project and the two workers Nigel and Nikki are developing the project as a FX with after school clubs, a drop in, a cafe serving coffee and lunches with messy church on a saturday. They have developed close links with the newly created Green Park School and we spent an enjoyable hour with the principal and children there. The photo is of the pastoral minister, Nigel, the superintendent ministerJames McKnight and the Chair of District, John walking back from the school.

They have just appointed 2 part-time youth workers to continue developing this imaginative project.
(staff and trustees of the Cross-links project)

We went from there to the Dover Immigration Centre where we were shown around by the chaplain, John Lines, who is deeply respected by staff and detainees. We met with Andy Bell, the centre manager, and heard about the differences bewteen running a prison and a detention centre. We heard how there are 2,500 deatinees in the 11 centres across the UK and some of the issues facing such centres at this time. John works as part of a multi-faith team and the authorities spoke very highly of the quality of chaplaincy provison and very happy to welcome more if we could provide it!

Our next visit was to the London Road Methodist/URC site where they have plans for a £1.4m development scheme. They have opened up one of the shop fronts they ownto offer a place for meetings, coffee, communion, financial advice and a baby clinic. This is called 'Footprints'

and the children have designed the logo in the shop. Just that day they had been able to financially and physically help a young man get his own place to live from being on the streets.

some of the church members around their ministyer, Bruce Allinson.

A lovely meal with invited guests at the Deal Church was followed by an evening with people from across the circuit at the River Methodist Church. I was able to share stories of hope and challenge from my travels around the connexion this year and the wider World Church....and I've seen much to encourage and share during today as well.

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