Friday, 12 June 2009

Joy in Jersey

We flew into Jersey and went straight to visit Communicare. This is an Anglican/Methodist Community Centre which is so active in pre-school, youth activities, adult classes, AA and other support groups, housing surgeries,and a coffee shop/restaurant where they work with prisoners who are preparing to be released into the community. It has been going for 32 years. At the moment there is no indigenous worshipping community but it seems ripe for a FX initiative.

From there we went to the Biarritz Hotel where we met up with the VP and shared together in the Jersey circuit Easter Offering Service. There was good participation from women across the island

followed by a lovely lunch!

As in the other two Islands we were taken to meet the 'head of the government' the Deputy Baliff, who becomes Baliff in July.

He presides over the Royal Courts and the States. We had a fascinating tour of the States Chamber and I was deeply impressed by the number of Christians we met who are serving in the government of the island.

Some of these came to a specially called meeting around our visit concerning 'The controversy surrounding Christian Aid's involvement in the recent meeting held in Jersey organised by the Tax Justice Network'. This has caused a deep rift between Christian Aid and their supporters in Jersey. The Rev Matthew Reed, one of the directors of Christian Aid had flown over for the meeting and was very helpful in moving the debate to a different place where there is now, hopefully, a chance of listening, healing and commitment to the shared aims of our sister organisation. It was certainly a 'live issue' wherever we went.

It was a real pleasure to stay with David and Barbara Coote. They cared for us with such love and grace. We met numerous people at their home and across the island - and even managed to get a walk together

There are two MHA's in Jersey although not part of the MHA organisation on mainland Britain.
We went to both Stuart Court and Maison La Corderie and we were deeply impressed by the high quality and level of care.

the couple on the right are brother and sister and he has been a LP for many many years. Edward was so looking forward to coming to his church, Ebenezer, where I was preaching the following day. Sadly he fainted (with excitement) at the end of the service but was doing well by the time we left the island.

We went to Samares, the most southerly Methodist church in Britain - and having been to the most northerly church in Unst whilst in the Shetlands it seemed to complete the circle!

as we walked to the church - what a great noticeboard

and we heard the story of how this once dying congregation and earmarked for closure at the end of the 80's has seen renewal and now has to rent other premises to accomodate everyone. There is great concern about the community and they are praying for the opening of doors for a new site to develop as we walked and talked we prayerd together.

There was a wonderful Celebration of Children's talents on that Saturday evening. There were over 80 children and young people from the different churches across the island. The St James centre was packed to capacity and it was a fun evening. The Lieutenant Governor and his wife were there which gave the whole event an even more special feel. At the end balloons were released and I was asked to say a prayer amidst the cast of a thousand people and balloons!

Sunday was a wonderful day. At Ebenezer, following recent upgrading of their premises, they hold a traditional service at 10.00am followed by a more family friendly contemporary one. It was a joy to share with both congregations and to encourage them to continue looking outwards to their communities and make contact with more and more people.

They know how to host the preacher on the Sunday - a lovely meal with circuit stewards and staff

and this was followed by a great circuit service at St Ouen....celebrating 200 years. The people couldn't remember a President coming to their church before so it was an honour to share with them....the heavens opened just as people were gathering but we soon dried out and had a warm time together.

There was a prayer breakfast for some of the elected government members on the Monday. It was good to just sit and listen, share and pray together...and at the end discovered that one of the ministers comes from a little village, Quernmore, in my District and his parents are still actively involved in this growing congregation....what a small world it is.

It has been a very special time in the Channel Islands - there are concerns but we found so much to encourage. I commend them to your prayers

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