Monday, 7 December 2009
More Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District highlights
My visit to the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District began on Thursday December 3rd with lunch with District Chair John Howard. We drove to Shrewsbury to meet up with the district rural and agricultural chaplain, the Revd Eleanor Reddington, who took us to visit two farms - one with pigs (see above) and the other a dairy farm. This took me back to life in the Tadcaster circuit. Farming can be a pretty hard life, with all kinds of challenges. Livestock has to be cared for 365 days a year (and cows milked 2 or 3 times daily). This demands a very high level of commitment. One farmer said it's not a job, 'it's a way of life'.
After tea, we went to Belle Vue Methodist Church to meet leaders of the Shropshire Circuits who have formally agreed to unite in 2010. It was fascinating to hear their story and to share their hopes and anxieties (but mainly hopes!) This is an exciting new chapter.
Friday was a very full but energising day. We started at Fallings Park Methodist Church, with a get-together of ministers, spouses, lay-workers and ministers' widows from around the District. Together, we explored a wide range of issues - some relating to my 'Creating Safer Space' theme but many more besides.
From there we went to Darlington Street Methodist Church for lunch and a chance to meet people involved in the Fair Trade Shop, Wolverhampton Interfaith Council and the Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd, who work with homeless people. The picture shows me receiving sandwiches from the Little Brothers.
From Darlington Street we strolled up the road to St Peter's House, to meet members of the Wolverhampton Pioneer Ministry Team. Their work includes involvement with the street pastors scheme, and running Bible studies at Yates' Wine Lodge and McDonalds. An impressive piece of work, to which both the local Circuit and District contribute in various ways.
Our evening was spent in the Tipton Circuit, discussing very exciting ventures linked with Lea Brook Methodist Church. 'The Centrepoint Project' works with young people through drama and creative arts and has recently received a £50,000 grant through 'The People's Millions' Lottery awards competition.
Saturday's journey to London and our involvement with 'The Wave' is covered in Richard's Blog.
On Sunday morning I shared with the Revd Phil Hoar in leading worship at St John's, Bloxwich. This was their 43rd Anniversary. Two children (Emily and James) were received into the church family by baptism. Worship was lively and a very positive experience to be part of, with hymns well sung and the superb support of a 3 manual pipe organ (on which I had a go later in the day). By the time I'd said cheerio to everyone and found my camera, the church was pretty well empty - hence the picture below. After lunch together, I led an informal service in which I shared some of my experiences from my MRDF visit to India and then to Sri Lanka. Then it was off to the District Advent Service at Codsall, described in Richard's previous Blog.