Sunday, 25 April 2010

Nottingham and Derby District visit

We spent Saturday at the District Synod, which was held at Chilwell Road Methodist Church in Beeston, which started by welcoming John Hindson who had walked 4 miles to Synod with a bucket of water on his head. He raised nearly £100 for the MRDF funded water projects I had visited earlier this year in Uganda.

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 Methodist Church is the most wonderful thing that can happen to anybody. You would be called to a seemingly impossible task – just like the disciples who were called to be witnesses to the ends to the earth – but that through the power of the Holy Spirit, God would make the impossible possible.

We heard about some of the many exciting projects taking place within the district, many of which will soon feature in a DVD being prepared to be shared with all churches to try and spread this good news and encourage learning from it. David will visit some of them later this week, including the Living Lives project in the Belper Circuit that is bringing together young people from the street and elderly people, using role play and film amongst other innovative techniques, and a project in Mansfield, providing meals and shelter for homeless people. I also spoke with Kevin who, when as a 16 year old living in a hostel in the centre of Nottingham, was invited in to the Methodist Church in the city centre and is now a lay employee there who proudly showed me the annual report for the City Mission which he had designed and produced.

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 Methodist Church, developing my theme of “God calls us all” and David spoke about creating safer space, forgiveness and how a church should respond to sex offenders. We ended the day with a world church emphasis as we told some of the many wonderful and challenging stories we’d heard from our travels around the world.

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 Derby. The two churches came together around 12 years ago in to a new building that makes a great use of space. I was welcomed by Deacon Margaret Matta, and together we lead the service with other members of the church taking part. Following the service we shared lunch in the room the church uses to host a monthly lunch outreach that they hope to shortly expand.

Littleover Methodist Church in Derby completed a major redevelopment 18 months ago and they now have a building that is fully used 7 days a week by church and community. With a sports hall, a variety of meeting rooms, a prayer room and dedicated pre-school area they have a building that is very much part of their mission.

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 Uganda and Bulgaria, the work of Methodists in both countries I’d reflected on throughout the weekend.

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.

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