Thursday, 29 April 2010

More from Nottingham and Derby

Richard's BLOG has already told you about the exciting goings-on during the Saturday of our visit.

For me, Sunday began early with two local radio interviews (with BBCs Nottingham and Derby) at the studios of BBC Nottingham. It was interesting later in the day to meet qjuite a lot of people who had heard the broadcasts - so local radio is still alive and well. I quite enjoy these early morning visits to radio stations - they bring back memories of my time in York, when I helped produce the BBC Radio York Sunday Breakfast Show.

Morning service was at Bradmore Methodist Church, a church with a long history and a building that was beautifully renovated just a few years ago. It is also a building that is used a great deal by the wider community. After the service (and the post-service coffee) several of us went for an excellent Sunday lunch.
After lunch, District Chair Wes Blakey took me to the Ashfield Circuit. Our first stop was Skegby Methodist Church and Anchor Centre - a very striking modern building. The previous church building had been a bit inaccessible and invisible so members of the church had hoped for a number of years that they'd be able to take over the site occupied by a local pub. This is what happened, and the new church is visible, accessible and used by the community. We met some of the members, heard its story, and took several photos, inclusing the stained glass anchor.

From there we went to The Hill Methodist Church for a Circuit service in celebration of the church's centenary. There was a good sized congregation. I shared the leadership of the service with the circuit ministers and the church's worship band.

On Monday morning we travelled to the Nottingham North Circuit and spent time with some of the people involved in the Butlers Hill Community Allotment. This was a most fascinating visit. The allotment attracts church members and many other people to come and spend time together, work on the allotment, and enjoy its fruits. Last year, potatoes were distributed to people living locally. Young and older people get to spend time together, enjoying each other's company and working to produce inexpensive and very tasty food. Recently, a well was found on the allotment and while we were there water was drawn from it for use on the rather dry lawn.

For lunch we went to Bilsthorpe Methodist Church. The church premises are in a former Co-op building and, from the outside, it is not at all obvious that it is a church. Inside there is a very attractive worship centre. But there is also a cafe, which opens one morning per week and offers good, economic food and drinks. I had a very tasty cheese and ham panini.

From Bilsthorpe, Wes and I went to Bridge Street Methodist Church in Mansfield for a short meeting and coffee break with the Circuit ministers. Then we drove to Nottingham Road Methodist Church, where part of the building is used for a winter shelter for homeless people. At the moment the church is also providing temporary accommodation for a project called Framework, working with those who are homeless. One of their current projects is transforming a piece of waste ground at the back of the church into a garden for use by those who attend. (That's where our photo was taken.) When Framework goes back to its own premises the garden will be their gift to the church - to whom they say they are most grateful for the support and accommodation that have been made available to them.

Finally we drove to Chesterfield Road Methodist Church to meet some of those who attend the after school club. I was invited by two boys to have a go at a video game whbich was a kind of tank battle. Even though I know they were being kind to me and let me win, I felt very guilty to have 'killed' them.

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.

Next stop was The Queens Hall, Derby, for a short service and then lunch with members of the Chinese language congregation that meets and worships there regularly. We were made very welcome and, not surpisingly perhaps, the food was excellent. We are part of a worldwide Methodist family of around 70 million people. Increasingly, being Methodist in Britain provides opportunities to meet and worship with members of the Methodist family from all around the world - much to our mutual enrichment and benefit.

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.

On my last day in the Nottingham and Derby District, I joined supernumerary ministers and spouses for lunch at Willersley Castle - good company, good food, a beautiful spot, and a fine end to the District visit.

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