After a good meal we shared some of our experiences and heard from members of this District leadership team about their hopes for the future.
On Saturday we spent the day at
The theme for the day was Discipleship and we both shared reflections on various aspects of discipleship we had witnessed on our travels and then led workshops which allowed us to explore some of the theme in greater depth.
We were joined by Steve Hucklesby, a policy advisor within the Connexional team and a member of the Joint Public Issues Team who has played a leading role in the development of the Methodist Churches response to climate change, in part through the report “Hope in God’s Future”. Steve also talked about how our discipleship can lead to engaging in politics as the General Election approaches. A fourth workshop was led by workplace chaplain Rev Rosa Leto on bullying in the workplace. All the workshops produced lively discussion.
On Sunday morning I was taken to Durham Prison. Fortunately I was also allowed to leave again without too much difficulty. I joined Bill Offler, a local preacher in the
At the end of the service at least 10 men asked for bibles to take away with them.
One prisoner told me that as he entered the chapel it felt like a blanket of peace fell upon him. Another told me how a fellow prisoner had repeatedly nagged him to come to the mid-week discussion group about Christian faith and belief but he was afraid of what the other prisoners would think of him if he did. Eventually he relented and over time he found that God really did exist and not only that but that God loved him. Early one morning in his cell when he realised this he broke down and cried. This was a man who had little if any contact with the Church before he came in to prison but now he is convinced his life has changed for the better.
A few minutes walk from Durham Prison is
Brian Thornton, a past Vice-President, has also recently moved to the circuit as a pastoral worker with 3 churches in the
Revds Keith Bamford and Alan Coustick welcomed us to the circuit which is shortly to join with neighbouring Wensleydale Circuit which will then embrace over 500 Methodists in the north of the Yorkshire Dales. We shared in a wonderful service in a packed church which continued the discipleship theme of the weekend. We were also joined by a group of Fijians from nearby Catterick Garrison.