Friday, 30 April 2010
Thursday, 29 April 2010
On Tuesday we went to Derby. Our first stop was the main offices of MHA, where we shown round by Keith Albans. We saw the building, met quite a lot of the staff, and then had a chance for a long conversation with Chief Executive Roger Davies on current work and future prospects. During the year I've visited a number of MHA schemes, have cut the turf for a new inter-faith scheme in Leeds, and am a Patron of the London 'Forget-me-not Appeal'. What MHS does is top quality and groundbreaking.
The final stop was in Belper, at the 'Drop-In Centre' to meet some of those involved in the award winning 'Linking-Lives' Project. We'd heard something of its work at Saturday's synod and it was good to meet those involved in it on a day-to-day basis. At the heart of this work is building friendly relationships across the age range, especially between young and older people - where there can often be misunderstanding and a certain amount of fear. This project, funded by the Circuit and District, is a very important contribution to the life of the community.
Sunday, 25 April 2010
This was the last Synod to be chaired by Rev Wes Blakey before he “sits down” later this year and synod members shared in a cake that had been made for him and his jelly babies. The first item at Synod was the Testimony Service for probationer minister Rev Phil Poole who is to be received in to Full Connexion and ordained at the Methodist Conference in June. David preached and told him that to be called by God to be a minister in the
We heard about some of the many exciting projects taking place within the district, many of which will soon feature in a
I spoke to Synod about some of the lessons I’d learnt from my visits and the implications they had for the future of the
We concluded a good day with an evening meal with Wes and Ann Blakey, together with Deputy Chair Rev Terry Nowell and his wife Irene, and Frances Hopwood, who had organised much of our visit to the District.
On Sunday morning I travelled to Ashbourne Road Methodist/United Reformed Church in
Local minister Revd Ian Worrall told me how it is a church that is committed to prayer and when they started plans for the refurbishment they felt God encouraging them to raise their expectations about what they could achieve and so they took a significant step of faith and they were not disappointed. The etched window symbolises how God’s hand was in what they did.
As well as raising the funds themselves for the major building work they continue to tithe 10% of their income, giving it away to various funds and projects, including in
Littleover played host for a District Local Preachers’ re-dedication service. The service was led by District Local Preachers Secretary John Whitehead and Revd Lesley Taylor.
We were well supported throughout the service by one of Littleover’s 3 worship groups. I preached and shared with the local preachers present in a brief act of re-dedication.
Thursday, 22 April 2010
The college offers a wide range of courses, both residential and distance learning and caters for students with limited secondary school education right through to those studying for a PhD. They are also developing increasingly strong links with the
After lunch with members of staff I sat briefly in a teaching session for those here for a week as part of their children and youth worker course. They were a mixture of lay employees and volunteers from churches across the country, sharing their experiences and learning together.
Before leaving I talked with members of the teaching staff about the emphasis they place on adult discipleship and how important it was for all church communities to take time to help people to learn and grow in faith. This is something I’m convinced we all need to take more seriously and the excellent work Cliff College and our other training centres and networks are doing can help and equip us in this vitally important task.
Monday, 19 April 2010
In November last year
The media attention may have now gone, but the evidence of the major impact on people’s lives is still all too evident. I visited the area on Saturday accompanied by Rev Richard Teal, Chair of the Cumbria District, to hear the stories of those who were affected by the floods, to learn how the local churches responded, and to assure them of the ongoing prayers of Methodists throughout the Connexion.
We were met there by local minister Revd Sue Edwards, supernumery minister Revd Keith Rushton and his wife Heather, together with Rev Nicola Reynolds, superintendent minister in neighbouring circuit but also the lead for Churches Together in
Funds have been provided to enable a small kitchen area to be installed in the entrance of the church that has now become more of a free café. It has not only been a current help but it is also so they are “ready for next time”. We met Gloria who has been coming to the church every day since her home was flooded. She had gone out for lunch when the floods suddenly hit the town and has not been able to go back to her house since. She has now had to move elsewhere.
Local churches were at the heart of the emergency response. A disaster plan had been in place for a number of years and it was put in to action within hours of the seriousness of the situation being realised. Very quickly150 people had volunteered to help from local churches. It was noticed by everyone that the orange jackets of the emergency services were closely followed by the yellow jackets of volunteers from Churches Together. They worked in reception centres, sorted clothes, served meals, provided drinks on the streets and everywhere offered a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.
After looking around Cockermouth, and seeing how the many damaged buildings were being repaired, we travelled on to Workington and saw clearly how powerful the force of the river had been with the destruction of the main bridge. Next week a temporary road and bridge will be opened, which will once again allow people to drive between the two parts of the town, instead of having to travel an 18 mile detour. We were told that the separation caused by the loss of the bridges had caused a noticeable increase in the cases of depression seen by local GPs.
Keswick too suffered flood damage, including the Methodist manse, which is still being repaired.
The Churches response to the floods was impressive and will not be forgotten here for many years.
On Sunday morning we travelled to the Kirkby Stephen, Appleby and Tebay Circuit where I was to preach at
Tuesday, 13 April 2010
Monday, 12 April 2010
Our initial discussions were dominated by financial matters. We received the draft annual report and accounts for the year ended
Proposals were brought which outlined a review of ministerial committees and further development of the Church’s learning infrastructure and learning programmes and support offered to local preachers. In partnership with a range of partners across the Connexion it is planned to embark on “The Fruitful Field Project: Nurturing the Learning Church” which will map the current learning infrastructure, assess Methodist controlled learning institutions and value for money and setting some key actions such as consolidating resources and initiatives, and establishing new initiatives such as a comprehensive superintendency learning programme.
Two major papers related to safeguarding were presented to Council. One was an updated policy and guidance for good practice and procedures with respect to safeguarding children and young people. The second was a new policy for good practice in the care of adults when they are vulnerable.
In 2007 Conference decided that full-time pre-ordination training would be concentrated at three institutions but did not include
Another difficult debate centred on the review of the Resourcing Mission Office in
At the last Council meeting we had received an early draft of the Israel Palestine Working Group report and suggestions where made then about revisions that should be made. A revised report was brought to this meeting and it was agreed that it should be taken to Conference.
We spent some time in groups in order to look at 5 areas in more detail including a discussion about the carbon reduction report, personnel files for ministers, support for Local Preachers and fundraising strategy.
The way forward for work relating to Equalities and Diversity took some time at the Council and eventually some amended resolutions were agreed for report to the Conference (along with a proposed standing order change). The amount of time taken to discussing this demonstrated a desire on the part of Council members to take the important issues covered by Equalities and Diversity seriously and to respond appropriately.
Our final morning covered a variety of themes - exciting plans for the Methodist International Centre; final agreement regarding Southlands College in the Roehampton University; a redrafted paper on ‘Social Media, revised in the light of a previous Council discussion and an open consultation (much of it online); a report from the Epworth Press Interim Reference Group.
We also discussed the Methodist Heritage Committee’s draft report for the Conference and had a chance to see and discuss the new-look, illustrated Methodist Heritage Handbook 2010 – well worth getting a copy! And we considered the work done on ‘Singing the Faith’, the new Methodist Hymn Collection, that will no doubt create a lot of interest and discussion at and around Conference.
Finally we spent some time considering the shape and pattern of future Council meetings. We thanked staff and others whose hard work had made our meeting possible, Gill Dascombe for being our chaplain for the year, and those for whom this had been their last meeting as members of the Council.
Wednesday, 7 April 2010
In the evening I joined the Revd Graeme Halls and went to Maison La Corderie (MHA Jersey) for a communion service for Holy Week, at which I presided and gave an address. (Later in the week I had the chance to visit and meet residents at MHA Jersey's other site, Stuart Court.)
Wednesday morning began with a visit to BBC Radio Jersey, to record an 'as live' interview for Sunday morning. I always find such recordings challenging, as you have to imagine that things that you still haven't done have taken place (if you see what I mean). It was also strange to think that people in Jersey might think I was speaking live on Radio Jersey at the same time as I actually would be speaking live on Radio Guernsey. Later in the day we went to the Jersey Evening Post office for another interview.
Evening worship for Maundy Thursday was a circuit communion service at Georgetown Methodist Church. Liz and I have visited Georgetown quite a number of times over the past few years and I've even been allowed to exercise my 'assistant organist' skills there from time to time. It was good to see so many people we've met on previous visits. Graeme Halls, the minister of Georgetown, had prepared an order of service which started with lighting candles to represent those present at the Last Supper. At the close of the service the candles were extinguished one by one - as the disciples 'all forsook him and fled'.
On Good Friday morning I shared in a service at St Helier Methodist Centre led by the Revd Billy Slatter. People were given a choice between a more 'messy church' kind of activity downstairs or a reflective service in the church upstairs. Liz and I attended the reflective service. My role was simply to stand at the cross with my arms outstretched as nails were hammered in to it. I found this profoundly moving and difficult - and way outside my normal 'comfort zone'. It was the kind of service from which I needed to leave in quiet, rather than join in conversation and coffee.
Richard Vautrey has already covered our Saturday morning together at Bethlehem in his blog. On Saturday afternoon we flew to Guernsey on a small plane which gives you much more of the flying sensation than does a larger jet. All week we'd been watching the weather forecast in case this journey was not going to be possible - but off we went! During our stay in Guernsey we stayed (and had much fun with) the Male family - Andrew, Esther, Martha, James (who was 14 on Saturday!) and Gregory.
Sunday morning saw an early trip to BBC Guernsey to be interviewed along with Guernsey Superintendent, the Revd David Hart. BBC and ITV share the same building here in Guernsey!
The morning service was followed by lunch together with members of the congregation - a most impressive lunch of local roast lamb, followed by fruit crumble and custard (a lifetime favourite of mine). We then toured part of the island (which is very beautiful) before catching the charter boat back to Guernsey.