Monday, 24 May 2010

North Lancashire District visit

On Friday evening I managed to get in to Lancashire even without a passport check at the border. I was warmly welcomed by Revd Stephen Poxon, District Chair, and Revd Andrew Turner, local minister and superintendent of the Pendle Circuit, when I joined David on Friday evening at Christ Church in Nelson. After tea we led a session in the church, reflecting on how we had seen the impact of the discipleship of ordinary people in the life and work of the church throughout our year of office.

Christ Church is one of the very few joint Methodist/Catholic Churches in Britain. Catholics and Methodists worked together to build this new building which opened around 6 years ago. Catholic mass takes place every Sunday morning, followed by a Methodist service and once a month an afternoon mass in Urdu is conducted to meet the need of local people. However many other joint activities take place, including “Pop in and Pray” every Wednesday lunchtime, which is advertised as Catholics and Methodists in partnership praying together.

Friday evening also gave an opportunity to celebrate the President's birthday.

On Saturday we attended the 4th annual Inspire Conference. This is a major conference organised by the District and which attracted just over 200 people to Westholme School near Blackburn. It was a mixture of speakers and workshops exploring the theme of “Rediscovering Holiness: Christian spirituality for living in today’s world.” The day was centred around worship that was well led by a group from Lancaster Methodist Church.

Former President of Conference, Revd Dr Bill Davies, and Old Testament scholar Revd David Wood, superintendent minister of the Preston Circuit, both spoke powerfully and eloquently about holiness. They both reflected on what scriptural and social holiness meant for contemporary Christians.

David and I not only led workshops in the morning and afternoon, but also spent “time on the sofa”. We were interviewed by Revd Mark Slaney who, resplendent in a purple blazer that he’d found in the school, quizzed us using questions from conference members, with great skill and humour and to the great amusement of those present.

Following the successful conference we spent the evening relaxing in the company of Stephen and Myrtle Poxon, my predecessor as Vice-President, David Walton, Chair of the SCR, Ken Wales and his wife Janet, who live locally, and Connexional Team strategic leader, Revd Mark Wakelin who was also visiting the district this weekend.

On Sunday morning I travelled to Antley Methodist Church in the Accrington and Haslingden Circuit to preach in a circuit service.

I was welcomed by superintendent minister Revd Roger Brown and his ministerial colleagues Revd Christine Leech and Revd Garo Kilagi who is a mission partner from Papua New Guinea. Jubilate, the circuit worship group, led the music in our worship. Following the service we shared in lunch and then I led a further session in the afternoon which provoked a good discussion.

I then travelled to Pilling Methodist Church in the rural Garstang Circuit. Pilling is said to be England’s second largest village judged by area, and is surrounded by a large area of flat farmland. I was now accompanied by Revd Stephen Poxon, and I started my time in the church by fielding a wide range of questions posed by members of the church in a Q+A session. After tea I preached at an ecumenical service that brought together members from the local Catholic and Anglican churches.
Local minister Rev Paul Critchley led the service with his ecumenical colleagues even though he was supposed to be on paternity leave supporting his wife Jo. However members of the church were delighted to meet Samuel, who is just a week old, as well as the proud parents.

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