Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The Wales Synod and Synod Cymru, 14th - 18th October

Unveiling a plaque to mark the centenary of Skewen Methodist was but one of many interesting, exciting and sometimes surprising moments during a visit to Wales. The next day I was entrusted with the task of cutting the cake at the 150th anniversary in Abergele, where I also had the opportunity to meet up with Robin Wood, with whom I was at Wesley House in the early 70s. One of the really enjoyable aspects of Presidential visits is the encounters with people from various moments in your past. Robin explained to the congregation at Abergele what a very significant role table tennis had played in the formation of our generation of ministers.

Earlier in the day I had met with some of the ministers and officers of the Wales Synod, at Radyr, and visited (with Will Morrey and Stephen Wigley) two excellent Action for Children projects in Caerphilly - the Family Intervention Team and the Children's Centre.

The following day we drove through mid-Wales. The weather was sunny and the scenery spectacular. For lunch we stopped at Pentre Llifior, a chapel with a fascinating history where a lot of work is being done to make it available for wider use. It's well worth a visit. I tried out the pulpit and would have tried out the harmonium if mice hadn't beaten me to it!

We travelled on via Pennant Melangell, a place of pilgrimage and a sanctuary, a 'safer space'. Over our evening meal we met members of the leadership team of Synod Cymru and had a chance to explore some of the challenges facing them at the moment. By nightfall we reached our destination, Bangor, and the home of Alf and Mary Williams.

On Saturday morning people gathered for a morning considering aspects of 'Creating Safer Space', my Conference theme. We covered a lot of ground and tackled some pretty important if complex issues. This session was followed by lunch and then Wales Synod Chair Stephen Wigley and I found a quiet spot (in a golf club!) with a TV screen to watch part of a rugby match. Rugby is a love of mine. Had I been at home in London I would have been watching my team, London Welsh, beating the Cornish Pirates.

Next we dropped into Coed Craig, the Methodist Home at Rhos, where a 10th anniversary was being celebrated. This is a fine building with beautiful gardens and wonderful sea views.

Our day ended at a Circuit Celebration at St John's, Llandudno. The worship began in the church premises, but ended on the promenade - with the lighting and launching of a sky candle. I've never been involved with such a thing before and it was a bit questionable as to whether we'd get it lighted. But once it was well and truly going it sailed gently heavenwards and we (and many other people on the promenade) watched it until it was almost out of sight. By this time the candle had gone out so it drifted slowly back to earth.

Saturday night was spent with Trevor and Mal Pratt, and Sunday morning at Buckley Cross. This was a most enjoyable service, attended by the Mayor and representatives of the Council. We lunched at a country house restaurant, where the other party was a group of Rolls Royce enthusiasts (hence my attempt to drive away in the wrong car!).

From lunch we went to a thanksgiving service led by the minister, Rosemarie Clarke, to mark the completion of the refurbishment of the 'Community Room' at Northop Hall Methodist Church for community use. The room looks great and has been renovated in such a way as to reduce its carbon footprint by something like 80%. So it's good for the planet. But it's also quite clearly good for the community, and is a very imaginative development of Methodist resources in a way that responds to the needs of the wider community. A celebration cake was cut by the oldest and youngest members of Northop Hall. Mrs Lilian Edgington and Libby Smith.

My final stop of the day (and of my visit to Wales) was Wrexham, for a very well attended ecumenical service for One World Week. At this service we also marked John Rayfield's 50 years as a Local preacher and I was privileged to present a certificate to John.

I drove back to London with many memories - of places visited, ideas shared, scenery admired, but most of all of people met.

1 comment:

Ann Swindale said...

i believe that the 150th Anniversary celebration was at Aberdare in South Wales, not Abergele on the North Wales coast.