Sunday, 9 May 2010

Plymouth and Exeter District

I caught up with David on Friday evening at The Mint Methodist Church in Exeter. The Mint is in the heart of the city and is open late in to the early morning every Friday night, offering free warm drinks and a safe place to chill out for the many people going to the pubs and clubs in the city centre. It is also the base for the Street Pastors project in the city.

Exeter Cathedral is just a short walk away, and with District Chair, Revd Peter Pillinger, his deputy Revd Mike Parsons, together with the Steve Jones, the regional training and development officer for the district, we visited NightChurch, which takes place within the cathedral every Friday night. Steve Jones was instrumental in establishing this a couple of years ago, with the intent of creating an inclusive, creative and welcoming community with a passion for justice. The beautifully lit cathedral provides an opportunity for creative worship and fellowship and is reaching many who would not otherwise feel comfortable in a traditional church setting.

On Saturday morning we visited Sidwell Street Methodist Church, another large church in the centre of Exeter. With its impressive dome it stands out from the surrounding shops on the street.

We were welcomed by local minister Revd Andrew Brazier and many of the church members, who told us about their vision to redevelop the church in order to create a more versatile hall that could be used for more alternative patterns of worship and outreach.

There is though already a lot going on in the church. There are groups for all ages, and I talked to members of the Pudding Club, a group of young adults that meet every few weeks to share in fellowship whilst also sharing desserts and puddings. It was a bit early in the day for puddings, but I did share in cones of chips with the Brownies present.

We covered the length of the district during the day, making a brief stop at Plymouth Central Hall which celebrates its 70th anniversary this weekend. This, like The Mint and Sidwell Street in Exeter is a large and growing congregation engaging in innovative ways in the life of the city.

We then travelled across the Tamar Bridge in to Saltash Wesley Church, where we were joined by folk from the Cornwall District, including District Chair Revd Steve Wild.

We talked about the importance of discipleship, and whilst our political parties continued to discuss how to develop a good and stable government out of the current hung parliament, we reflected on the many contacts we had had over the last few months with politicians, and how important it was to uphold our politicians in prayer at this time.

David was particularly impressed by the organ at Saltash, which was once in a country house before being moved to this modern church. He described it as one of the best he had played this year and it certainly sounded good when he pulled out the stops.

On Saturday evening I spent a pleasant evening with Revd Mike Parsons and his wife Gillian. Together we raised a glass of coke to the newly promoted Leeds United, even though they seemed to have made such hard work of achieving this.

On Sunday morning, whilst David was at The Mint in Exeter, I shared in worship with Mike Parsons and preached at Wellington Methodist Church.

The church family shares in a well prepared lunch once a month and I had the good fortune to be present for this month’s lunch. It was a good way to end our visit to the district.

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