Saturday, 30 May 2009

Celebrations all over Bolton & Rochdale!!!

During the year I have shared in a variety of celebrations but this was the first 200th anniversary of a Sunday School.....and it was a great time.

200 years ago a Sunday School began on the site of The Bridge Methodist Church in Radcliffe ....none of the original people were there but a good crowd gathered to begin a weekend of re-unions, parties and worship.
One of the highlights was when the minister, Derek North (a former colleague in the Preston circuit) went to the piano and asked us all if we recognised the tune.....and so we sang 'Jesus wants me for a sunbeam'...the place came alive as we sang a number of songs that most people knew from years ago

The following day I was with a former Cardiff MethSoc student, Ian Humprheys, at the opening of one of his churches in Boothstown. There was stanbding room only

as church members from across the circuit and district gathered with councillors, MP's, builders and many from the adjacent Methodist School(where the congregation have been worshipping for the past year) was a great time of worship and the school provided enough food to 'sink a battleship' it was great- so much energy and enthusiasm as they can now concentrate on mission within their community.

There was a packed church onm the Sunday morning at Culcheth where I shared in a communion service with the ministert, Paul Martin. He and his family entertained me for lunch along with some friends - one of whom Joanne works as legal advisor in TMCP.....we had our photo taken bouncing together on a trampoline in the back garden...but so far no photos have been sorry not to be able to display them!! Our visit to Bolton & Rochdale concluded with a District celebration at the Victoria Hall with the Good News Singers from Eccleston and the Queens Hall (Wigan) worship group who added a real sense of joy to our time of worship. Once again I came away with a renewed sense that there are so many green shoots and God has a future for Methodism - although it will be very different to that of 200 years ago!!

With LWPT in Bolton

David and I had accepted the invitation from LWPT to share in their annual Assembly weekend at Little Lever, near Bolton. This is the trust that has grown out of what we knew as LPMA and is for all Leaders of Worship and Preachers. We met in the light and modern Methodist/URC building and there were about 100 people who gathered from all over the connexion.

We shared some thoughts on worship and how we need to continually improve both the content and quality of the worship we offer. There was a wonderful concert on the Saturday evening, worship on the Sunday with some of the Assembly members preaching in churches across the Bolton & Rochdale district. We came together on the Sunday afternoon for a very meaningful communion service where we were all able to recommit ourselves to our calling as leaders of worship and preachers.

This was a well organised weekend and thanks to Brian Young and all his team.

MHA - a hidden jewel

It was a privilege to open Beechville, the latest MHA home, in Bolton. This former Quaker Home has been transformed by MHA into a beautiful residence and there was a real sense of celebration as people gathered from all over the country for a simple act of dedication.

As I have visited a number of MHA homes I contin ue to be encouraged by the high quality of care that we are able to offer. This is one of the hidden jewels of our Church.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Nottingham and Derby - tea and castles

Pumping the organ at Cromford (above)

Willersley Castle (above)
Trinity Long Eaton (below)

Judith makes the tea!

It was good to be in the Nottingham and Derby District and experience a local preacher's conference at Life at the Centre in the midst of a busy Nottingham Saturday and, by contrast,the peace of the Derbyshire Dales on the Sunday morning. I was at Cromford for their morning service swelled by a group of 70 or so Wesley Guilders who were staying at Willersley Castle just up the road.
We were taken there for a traditional Sunday lunch afterwards and warmly welcomed by the manager Tim Rodgers and his wife. They have a rich variety of short breaks on offer during the year - from bird watching to Gilbert and Sullivan! is the contact email.
I ended the visit at Trinity Church in Long Eaton - my brother's church which has been rebuilt in the last few years and is a lively place, with a good outreach and a well-used coffee shop. There I was given a light grilling by Gail my sister-in-law and was able to engage in discussion both with church members and the President who joined in the debate halfway through.

From Stoke to Brown Knowl

The President has already written about the Discovery Day at The Potter's House (top) and the splendind World Church event at Congleton (middle).
On the Sunday morning of our visit I preached at Brown Knowl (bottom) a pretty village near Whitchurch visited by John Wesley; and in the evening at Runcorn where beforehand I was able to share in a frank discussion with members of the Circuit about the issues facing the area in the current recession. I was impressed by their determination to try to serve their local community in what are tough circumstances all round. I was also pleased and surprised to see one of my predecessors, Eluned Williams ,in the congregation - these formerVice-Presidents pop up all over the place!

Along the North Wales coast

My visit to North Wales took me via a Preacher's conference on 'Worship in the world of work' at Llandudno to the MHA at Colwyn Bay where I was met by Patrick Slattery the District Chair and Ifor Jones the Chaplain.
It was good to see again the standard of care offered to residents in our Methodist Homes.
At St John's Bangor (top picture) I was presented with the gift of a locally grown damson tree by the Rev Alf Williams - a unique gift. Then it was on to St John's at Conwy to a reflective evening service led by the Rev Nick Sissons (bottom picture).
On the way we were able to visit Moelyci, a co-operative farm set up by two members of the Bangor congregation which is doing pioneering environmental work and reviving interest in traditional crafts. Find out more from their website

Back in business

I'm conscious that I've been letting the President do all the blogging work over the last couple of months. Being away every weekend since the end of January means that I've been spending time catching up on the day job during the week and my good blogging intentions have come to nought!

It's been an exciting and stimulating time and I will try to share some of those travels over the next few days.
I'll begin with the youth club at Regent Street in Wrecsam - a lively ecumenical group from different churches in the area who made me very welcome and showed off their varied dancing and sporting skills!