Monday, 30 March 2009

Signs of spring in the South East

The cherry tree blossom is a certain sign that spring has arrived and the sun was trying to shine throughout this District visit

We had fun on the Friday as e mails had gone astray and John and I were in the lovely village of Cookham when we should have been having coffee with the dean at Windsor!! When we got there we had our own private escort into the castle and although the dean was by this time in a meeting he popped out to greet us. Then a look around the Cathedral before we headed off for Slough to visit the 'Art beyond Belief' project. This is a very impressive project funded by the Arts Council, using art to express faith, offer healing, challenge preconceptions and working with both faith and community groups. We heard the story of how in one of their recent projects, Art Monitor, they have worked alongside people suffering from the results of domestic violence,those with mental health issues, children with Asperger's and autism, young people excluded from school, young offenders, young carers and adults with learning difficulties. You can fund out more at

After lunch we went with some of the circuit staff back to Cookham where we spent time learning about Stanley Spencer, one of our foremsot artists of the last century who spent much of his life in the village and whose exhibition is now in the former Wesleyan chapel.

(John (Chair); Maggie Blake; Barbara McIntivey, Philip Morse and Hazel Forecast in Cookham)

On the Saturday there was a Vocation and Vision day held at Leatherhead Church where about 50 people gathered to think about God's call upon our lives and how we can live this out in the church and wider society today. This event was hosted by Ian Howarth and it was great to catch up with him and his wife Barbara as we shared 5 years ministry together in Cardiff many years ago.

That night we went to Stoughton Methodist Church for the Guilford Circuit Missions evening. there must have been over 80 of us packed into the hall around tables with lots and lots of food and I was invited to share some stories from the World Church.

Mothering Sunday was a full day. John and I left early to go East Peckham where they were holding a special 9.30am all age cafe style worship...we shared breakfast with the congregation as they arrived and it was really good to see such strong BB and GB companies and they shared fully in the worship - and were not embarressed to enter fully into the songs as the photo shows

we dashed from there to share in worship at Tonbridge Methodist Church....arriving about 20 minutes after the start and seeing a huge look of relief on Marie-Anne Kent's face, the minister, as we walked in. She had organised a meal in the hall afterwards for those who were able to stay and also some from neighbouring circuits came. After a wonderful meal we shared in a conversation together in which we were all encouraged.

In the evening we went to the outskirts of the London District to the United Free Church of Feltham for the centenary of their building. It was good to meet up with Mark Savage, who had been a student in Cardiff MethSoc and now active in the leadership of the church. The Mayor was there in all her regal splendour and it was a service rich in memory and challenge for the future. The local MP, Alan Keen, spoke movingly over the coffee and cakes afterwards about how much he owed to Methodism from his early years. During this year I keep meeting many people who have been so influenced in such ways and this should encourage us, especially those who work among children and young people and wondering if it is worth it!! The answer is obviously yes although we may never see it.

So ended a long but fruitful day once again coveing many many miles across this SE District. The Monday morning I only had to travel about a mile to the Horley Church where a number of ministers and lay workers gathered with me for the morning to share stories among ourselves which gave encouragement that there are many green shoots beginning to emerge across the connexion - signs of spring which may yet lead to a summer!

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