Monday, 12 October 2009

Wales Synod/Y Synod Cymru

This weekend I travelled down to South Wales and spent 2 good days visiting church communities in the area. I was warmly hosted by Wales Synod Chair Revd Dr Stephen Wigley and his family.

On Saturday morning we walked the short distance to Radyr Methodist Church were we met by local minister, Rev Susan McIvor and a group of church members with direct links with local health services. As nurses, doctors, managers and administrators we talked together about our day to day work and the way our faith impacted on what we did. We reflected on the many challenges those working with health care face each day and how we respond as Christian men and women.

Following our meeting we had time to drive up some of the Welsh valleys and saw the significant changes that have taken place in this area, as industry has been replaced by green hills and heritage sites such as The Big Pit. There have been major changes not only in the landscape and the type of jobs available, but the Methodist Church has been changing too, with circuits coming together and historic boundaries disappearing.

Saturday afternoon was spent with a group gathered at the newly refurbished and extended Llanyrafon Methodist Church in Cwmbran. The focal point of the sanctuary area is the impressive Oberammergau Carving, which depicts the Last Supper. I'm pictured with Superintendent minister, Revd Cathy Gale.

We talked together about the many ethical problems raised by modern health care, including the recent developments in the assisted suicide debate and the questions raised by the death of Kerrie Wooltorton, who wrote an advanced directive that prohibited health care staff from saving her life after an attempted suicide. It was a lively discussion about very difficult issues.

On Sunday morning we headed to the coast as I had been invited to preach at Trinity Methodist and United Reformed Church in Porthcawl. It is one of 4 united churches in the area. Superintendent of the Brigend United Area, Revd Gordon Sollis lead the service. The church is excellently situated on the high street of this popular tourist town and it’s premises are well used for a full range of activities, including work with people with learning disabilities.

We had been invited to lunch with former MP and health minister, Wyn Griffiths and his wife. Wyn is now Chair of the newly merged Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board which brings together local hospitals and community services, a way of working that is very different from England which currently encourages competition between groups rather than collaboration. Wyn has also lead the development of links between the local hospital and a children’s hospital in Sierra Leone, the charity helping to support senior clinical members to share their expertise in that country.

An afternoon service had been arranged at Trinity Methodist Church in the Newport and Lower Wye Circuit. The service was co-ordinated by local minister Revd Louise Gough, who had also been encouraged to share her flute playing talent and augment the church music group. The Church has recently been refurbished after a flood and it was good to share with members of the church and circuit as they started to use their building to the full again.

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