Sunday, 7 March 2010

Liverpool District

David had already spent a few stimulating days in the Liverpool District and it was good to join him on Saturday morning at Leyland Road Methodist Church in Southport for a District event focusing on safeguarding and medical ethics. We were welcomed by local minister Revd Peter Knight and District Chair Revd James Booth. We had a lively day talking about challenging issues with many of those attending being prepared to share their own experiences in a very deep and moving way.

Leyland Road church has been extensively refurbished and they now have a very versatile building which is extremely well used by the local community and significantly helps support the churches mission. I was particularly pleased to see that it is even used as a venue for the local flu vaccination clinic.

We spent a pleasant evening with Jim and Carol Booth at the District manse together with Cleo and Bella.

On Sunday morning we were up bright and early as guests on the Daybreak Sunday morning programme on BBC Radio Merseyside. We received a number of favourable comments for our contributions throughout the rest of the day.

I then travelled to Emmanuel Methodist and United Reformed Church in Ormskirk where I shared in worship with the church minister Revd Melvyn Kelly. It was a parade service and it was heartening to see so many children and young people in the congregation.

The church has good ecumenical partnerships with others in Ormskirk with evidence of this being seen in a joint initiative in a local school where a Messy Church-style service takes place after school every Friday afternoon to which an increasing number of children and their parents are coming.

There are also exciting developments happening in the Warrington Circuit which I learnt about when I visited Lymm Methodist Church. Lymm is part of the East Partnership, a coming together of 4 churches in the circuit, and one of 4 Partnerships that make up the circuit. Each Partnership group has an overarching council which means the need for fewer church councils and other committees as well as being a vehicle to encourage joint working. The circuit has also used resources freed up from the sale of 3 buildings to employ 10 lay support workers who work alongside the ordained ministers. Support workers have specific roles including a family worker, and older citizens worker and a grants and outreach worker.

One of the results of this pattern of working is over a dozen Fresh Expressions of Church across the circuit. For instance “Loving Hands” has been bringing people together for the last year using knitting as its focus. They started with 18 women and now they have 40 meeting regularly. In addition they’ve reached out to local care homes establishing groups there. Items are made for people who are sick, bereaved or in need of comfort and fellowship is shared whilst they knit together. For many Loving Hands has become a rewarding and fulfilling use of what used to be empty and lonely hours. It provides an opportunity to hold those they are knitting for in prayer and is involving many who did not previously have contact with the Methodist Church.

Local minister Revd Sally Ratcliffe together with a team of worship leaders and others from across the circuit lead evening worship and I was invited to preach. I was told that Lymm Methodist Church was famous for its cakes, and after the service I found out that they were absolutely right! It was a good way to end an enjoyable weekend in the Liverpool District.

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