Wednesday, 27 January 2010

More from Beds, Essex and Herts, January 24th to 27th

As January 24th was the Sunday in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, it is not surprising that both services in which I shared were ecumenical occasions. The morning was at North Watford Methodist Church, where the worship was introduced by the Revd Margaret Millar and prayers were led by the Revd Dick Lewis (Church of England). The picture shows Margaret and Dick, along with the Anglican Bishop of Southern Sudan, who is in the UK for a few weeks, and me (wearing the Kente cloth stole given to me in Ghana).

In the evening I had been invited to preach at Evensong in the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban, the oldest site of Christian worship in Britain. Evensong was conducted by the Dean, the Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John (pictured, left). The service was followed by a reception and an opportunity to meet and talk with a good number of local church representatives, Anglican and Methodist.

On Monday morning we drove over to Luton to meet with representatives of Grassroots, a multifaith community organisation who run a number of projects. We heard of some of the challenges facing members of different faith communities, some of the ways in which people increasingly work together, and were made very welcome on a visit to the Central Mosque.
Monday afternoon saw us with Watford Town Centre Chaplaincy (the picture shows me with chair of Trustees, Alan Smith, and senior chaplain, Richard Chewter). There is a whole range of activities included in the chaplaincy's work - in workplaces, with young people, teams of 'Street Angels', etc. It is also exciting to discover more and more businesses asking for provision of chaplaincy services. Along with other types of chaplaincy I'd seen on this and other visits, I reflected on the opportunities available and often missed for us to engage more fully with our communities. (This led to me writing my February Methodist Recorder article on the subject.)

Tuesday was spent at the Chelmsford Diocesan Retreat House at Pleshey, where I'd been invited to lead a Day Retreat on 'Finding Safer Space Internally'. The theme linked with my Conference 'Creating Safer Space' theme, but also gave us the chance to explore its implications for the spiritual and faith life of individuals.

My visit to the District ended on Wednesday morning with a meeting at the manse of District Chair Anne Brown with members of the District Policy Committee. This gave an opportunity for me to share my reflections on things I'd seen and people I'd met, as well as to hear more of plans and hopes for the District's future.

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