Wednesday, 2 September 2009

To Scotland

From August 15th to 22nd was spent in Scotland. We started in Stirling, whose impressive castle I visited wearing the slightly less impressive hat I bought at the Royal Show in July. In the evening Richard Vautrey and I had a chance to meet with District Chair Lily Twist and be briefed on Methodist life in Scotland.

On Sunday 16th I led the morning service at Stirling Methodist Church and then, after lunch with Lily and Colin Twist, Liz and I set off for Edinburgh in the midst of its Festival season. We had discovered Edinburgh a few years ago, when the Conference was held there, and decided that it was a city to be revisitedwhich. But this time it was so much busier, with street performers, people handing out leaflets for their evening shows, and thousands of visitors.

In the evening I preached (on the 'creating safer space' theme) at a circuit communion service at Nicolson Square, led by members of the staff of the Edinburgh and Forth Circuit. Exciting things are under way in Edinburgh Methodism, with major questions being asked about the best way to deploy resources of buildings and people and important decisions being made about the nature of the work in the City Centre.

On the Monday I went with Lily Twist, Circuit Superintendent, Andrew Letby and Connexional Liaison Officer Bill Reid to meet Edinburgh's Lord Provost, the Rt Hon George Grubb. We were provided with an excellent lunch and a most stimulating conversation about Edinburgh, politics, relations between church and society, and many other matters. It was particularly interesting to discover that the Lord Provost is a retired Church of Scotland minister who had for a time been a Methodist minister.

On the Tuesday I met with the Circuit staff and, in the evening, shared a meal with the other members of the Circuit Leadership Team. In between these meetings we went to Leith, to see the YMCA Leith Acorn Centre. This is an important piece of work based in Methodist premises but with significant support from and involvement in the wider community. We met with the Centre's manager, Kerry Reilly, and several other members of staff, and heard of the work they are doing.

Wednesday saw us visiting the Link Club (for people with learning disabilities) in Dundee Methodist Church. Dundee is where the Discovery is now birthed (see left). We lunched with stewards at Perth Methodist Church, and drove on to spend an afternoon with representatives of the District at Scottish Churches' House in Dunblane. On the way back to Edinburgh we visited the very impressive Falkirk Wheel (illustrated below), which raises boats from one level of the canal to another and, I'm told, uses only the same amount of energy as it takes to boil a kettle. Amazing!

After staying four nights with Andrew and Belinda Letby, we moved further North for a couple of days spent with Judy and Eric Jarvis, before setting off on the next stage of our journeyings, to Shetland.

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