Friday, 29 April 2011


Trains were on time; planes were on time;our delightful host met us on time ~ so we made it to the Baptist Church in Dunrossness to be made very welcome and to share in our first Holy Week service. And then we were taken to the manse where we were staying and unpacked! It was a great way to begin what turned out to be a wonderful visit.

On Wednesday we met with a number of people who would not be able to get to our various services and meetings, and that meant we saw a lot of the main island as well. The crofters are amazing folk full of energy and faith, and it was a priviledge to share something of their history and learn about the old ways as well as how they adapt to the new. We saw one of the many small chapels and talked about how they can best be used, and were able to have a brief walk at Eshaness, before travelling to Scalloway for our second service.

The next day Elizabeth Colley showed us round, exploring near her home in Nesting; taking us to Lunna Kirk, where there are memorials to the Shetland bus and some of the Norwegians who died in that war (a fascinating sideways chapel); and then enabling us to visit the Gonfirth Chapel where it may be possible to do all sorts of exciting work, especially with young people

During the afternoon we had a moving Maundy Thursday Communion with one of our retired ministers and his wife, which he was able to lead in part. It was an honour to share with them. And the evening Maundy service was at St. Magnus Episcopal Church, where we shared in both communion and the stripping of the chapel.

Good Friday morning saw us on St Ninian's Isle ~ after a very windy walk ~ and then visiting Ireland (without leaving Shetland!) It was good to meet with friends at their croft and receive yet more island hospitality
Then it was the ferry to Yell and a reflective service at East Yell chapel ~ and more hospitality.

On Saturday there was space to explore the museum in Lerwick and the town itself ~ and an evening meal of Shetland lamb and countless dishes of delicious vegetables.
Sunday was a series of services; two in Lerwick where the youngsters did amazing things with puppets at the second service after breakfast; one in Culswick, which is an isolated chapel to which people will travel for miles for their events (and their food!); and one at Walls where we had all the media input that I need others to provide! A day of great celebration and enormous fun.

Easter Monday we were back on Yell and visiting at a care home. Helen is 103, and only moved in 2 years ago when crofting, even with family help, became finally too much for her - yet another humbling visit among the saints of God.

Time for a little more tourist-type activities and then we were to go home, but not until we had seen the puffins!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Live Below the Line

Hello. I promise to offer the joys of the Shetland visit very soon ~ after all, I will not be at the wedding of the year! However, this is just a quickie to let anyone who is interested know that I shall be living on less than £1 per day from May 2nd to 4th. Most people are doing the week, but I did not feel I could impose it on those who are already offering me very generous hospitality. If you want to know more try

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

West Yorkshire District

My West Yorkshire visit began with an evening meal with Rev Peter and Doreen Whittaker joined by guests from around the District.

Touchstone, Bradford
It was great to visit Touchstone and spend time with Rev Barbara Glasson, discussing the challenges of this unique city and the work here of listening, weaving stories and interfaith dialogue. Touchstone was established in 1989 as a Methodist presence in the city of Bradford. Weaving was once very common in Bradford, known as the 'wool capital of the world'. Today Touchstone is providing a place for the weaving of stories and and a place of listening. Touchstone has its own weaving loom (so does Barbara) here I am being taught by Barbara before visiting Bradford Cathedral.

Meeting Awais, a member of staff working with the surrounding communities, listening to her story was inspirational.

Barbara showed me this incredible building which Touchstone are praying might become their future home, providing more flexible accommodation to resource this incredible work.

Click here to visit the Touchstone website

Wesley Playhouse - Howden Clough Methodist Church
A new way of being church a play area and a cafe! This was amazing to visit, a congregation re-imagining how to engage with their communities in an unusual way. The Playhouse provides a fantastic environment for Messy Church and a monthly service for young families.

Click here to visit the Wesley Playhouse website
An added bonus was the Deacons of the West Yorkshire and Leeds District joining us for lunch.

A Noah's Ark Play Area in Church! -Great Fun!

The day ended enjoying a curry in one of the many Bradford Curry Houses with Rev Barbara Glasson before driving home to Newcastle.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Lancashire District

TLC Image

Transforming Lives and Communities

Lancashire District of the Methodist Church:
Policy 2010 - 2013

Our Promises
We are the Methodist people of God in Lancashire and in the next
3 years, we are responding to God’s loving challenge as we promise to:

Energise discipleship
Enable leadership
Encourage risk
Employ buildings
Embrace technology
Enrich communities
Engage all

Transforming Lives and Communities is the current policy statement of the Lancashire District. Visiting the Lancashire District was great fun with a past President and a past Vice-President the itinerary was an inspiration and I certainly experienced the reality of the above policy statement.

Click here to visit the Lancashire District website

This is my favourite photo of the Rev Stephen (Chair of District) and his wife Deacon Myrtle Poxon and myself taken when Stephen was President of Conference whilst we were all attending the Irish Conference of 2009.

Palm Sunday Evening at St Annes

Palm Sunday evening at St Anne's for a supper of Lancashire Hotpot and red cabbage during cafe worship led by Rev Michael Hughes as I preached and led discussions.

Palm Sunday Afternoon at Burnley

Stephen and I joined Superintendent Minister Rev Phil Clarke and Rev Garo Kilagi at 2.30pm for an inspirational re-opening of Parkside Methodist Church, Burnley. The Church had made a decision to close but after meeting to pray a new vision emerged with a commitment to re-open and discover new ways of engaging in a very poor and disadvantaged area.
An excellent report on Poverty and Inequality (Paper MC1149) at Methodist Council recently reminded us that John Wesley encouraged members of Methodist societies to work directly alongside the poor and reflected that amongst our poorest communities the church is in significant decline. 'For many, living in poverty and living away from the church are synonymous' the church has often pulled out of poor communities, here was an example of a Circuit making a commitment to stay, here at the beginning of Holy Week a visible sign of death and resurrection.

Palm Sunday Morning at Clitheroe Methodist Church

Palm Sunday morning preaching at Clitheroe Methodist Church, sharing worship with Superintendent Rev Tim Thorpe. The folks here are about to embark on a building redevelopment to connect the worship area with the hall.

Midge Hall Methodist Church

At Midge Hall Methodist Church with Rev Phil Gough, Deacon Helen, Rev Kathleen Wood, Rev Stephen Poxon and the local Mayor celebrating the extension of their premises to enable more community outreach work.

District Biblefresh Event
Click here to visit the Biblefresh website

Folks from around the District met to write their contributions to the Biblefresh initiative 'The Handwritten Bible.' The Lancashire District had been given portions of Chronicles and Romans we heard several excellent biblical inputs on the passages.

Rev Lindsay Pettigrew offered this beautiful response to the question, What does the bible mean to you....

Thank goodness for weekly preaching. It makes me study scripture in detail constantly. I always use the set readings because I am glad of the discipline of looking at passages I might not choose to look at otherwise. I enjoy the challenge and discovery of scripture. I find it exhilarating often, disturbing sometimes and assuring always. I know I can plunge myself into it's eternal depths and never find the shallows. It will never run out, never fail. It can respond to my failures, needs, longings.Rich, poetic, beautiful and sometimes to be frank odd and scary at first sight. That's why it is not enough to simply read. Read, study, ponder, relate, employ reason, experience, ask the difficult and blunt questions of it and remember it is not merely a book full of merely sentences and words. It is the living word. It has a life and it's life can impregnate yours with all the meaning and purpose you crave. And Yet, we must take great care not to make an idol of it. It is the living word but it is not God. It is no more or less than a means to, one of the means to find God. And you must find God right where you are. Dish washing, child rearing, commuting, socialising, retiring and wondering how you ever found time to work. That is where God is. In the bit of space you occupy in the world and in your eternity to. Your eternity which has already begun.
You can pig out on as much spiritual, biblical food as you like. You will never get fat or too full. You may get a heart burn for Christ and seat at the eternal, inexhaustible banquet.

Read more on Lindsay's imaginative blog -

The secret diaries of an ordained girl

Supper at the Manse

Rev Stephen and Deacon Myrtle Poxon frequently offer generous hospitality at the District Manse, people were invited from across the District to enjoy Myrtles delicious food and share in conversation and much laughter, it was a really joyful evening I wish you could all have been there!

Afternoon Tea with the Morecambe Circuit

A new dawn

This Church closed down but then a new vision emerged to start Messy Church and re-engage with the surrounding community. Rev Peter and Carol Brown are committed to discovering what this church can do differently here.

Lunch at the Rectory in Morecambe

Lunch with Debbie Peatman (Churches Together in Lancs) and her husband reflecting on the challenges of ministry in the deprived area of Morecambe and hearing how local Churches are working together.

World Church Evening

At Poulton Methodist Church a World Church evening focused on the recent visit Alison and I made to Israel/Palestine and the District visit to Sierra Leone where a team of people including several doctors and nurses provided valuable training at a Christian Hospital.

Fulwood Methodist Church

Fulwood Methodist Church has recently been refurbished to create a lounge area and new hall, this stunning piece of art was made by the whole church community and a local artist specialising in ceramics.

An all day event at Fulwood Methodist Church bringing together people from around the District working in social action Projects e.g. Thrift Shops, Homeless Support, Youth Work, Luncheon Clubs. An inspiring day listening to people passionately engaged in working alongside vulnerable people.

Methodist Women

What an amazing gathering at Swanwick! Such an encouragement to meet with Methodist women of every type and age, all coming to work and pray together during this conference about peace and the way of the cross. I was only able to be there for a morning session, when we explored some of the Biblical texts and sought to listen to those on the margins. There was an open sharing , a willingness to be vulnerable, courage to face truth and pay the price, and always the ability to laugh as well. Thank you for inviting me to be part of this. Thank you for being women of faith and love. Thank you for walking the way of the cross and helping to lead the church onward in Christ's name.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Amelia Farm-Wales

It was such a treat to visit my diaconal colleague Deacon Lorraine Brown (Director) and the amazing team who work on Amelia Farm hearing of the inspirational stories of young lives supported and changed.
Amelia Trust is a working farm set in 160 acres of countryside in the beautiful Vale of Glamorgan offering a calming and therapeutic environment. The aim of the farm is to support and educate vulnerable and disadvantaged young people. Through fun and work based activities the young people are empowered to participate, learn new skills and develop potential.

The many people that make up the daily community on the farm include skilled staff and volunteers, young people who are discovering life, adults with learning difficulties in work placements and members of the public enjoying the countryside; it is a fantastic recipe that makes the Amelia Trust an amazing place to be. The Farm is open to the public 365 days a year.

They are a charity but do not receive any core funding and so are very grateful to those who give of their time and resources to support the vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society. If you would like to support the Farm please visit their website below.

Amelia Farm Staff Team

Wonderful lady in charge of the volunteers in the cafe.

Icthus Labyrinth installed with support from Network.

Deacon Lorraine Brown - Director of Amelia Farm
Rev Dr Stephen Wigley - Chair of District and Trustee of Amelia Farm
Deacon Eunice Attwood
Deacon Harriet Bacon

Around the Farm

The Woodwork centre resources the site's carpentry needs and provides a training environment for the young people.

It was a pleasure to be introduced to Rev John Stacey by the Chair of District Rev Dr David Wigley, John was the founder and visionary behind the Amelia Trust Farm established in 1991.

Click here to visit the Amelia Farm website

Friday, 15 April 2011

Methodist Retreat and Spirituality Network

It was a great joy to be able to return from the Channel Islands and join the members of MRSN for their day together in Church House and their AGM. We shared in reflection as well as the members dealing with the work of the day. And we talked together about prayer and action. The conversations were lively and encouraging. You don't need more from me about the Methodist Council, the work of which Eunice has already commented upon. Thank you all for your continuing prayers for us as we enter the final lap. And may God bless all of you in Holy Week and the ultimate celebration of Easter.

Back to the Channel Islands!

Because Eunice started in Jersey, we started in Guernsey - and the last time we were there was 1962! We were late arriving because of fog. Our first flight left Gatwick, circled the island a couple of times and then went back to Gatwick. Plenty of time to talk with a number of folk trying to return home (they are used to this happening) and to learn about how much Guernsey has changed.

When we finally arrived the next morning, after a wonderful welcome, we were able to visit MHA - Maison L'Aumone, the residential home, and Maison de Quetteville which is a specialist dementia care home. Very impressive in terms of both the facilities and the staff; a place full of life and laughter as well as facing the difficulties of some peoples' situations. Congratulations to you all - and thank you for the hospitality. (With special thanks to the chef)

Then we went on to explore the work of Action for Children in St Peter Port, where Kareena shared with us some of the needs of the youngsters and showed us how the project is offering help and hope. It was good to see the standard of housing being offered compared to that rented out by people who are only interested in profit.

The next day was the official meeting with the Bailiff, where we learnt about how different this island can be, ad discussed some of the needs of the churches with regard to the rules and regulations. We spent the afternoon on Herm preparing as Eunice has already mentioned, and then once again received generous hospitality. Evening Meals are a very good time to learn about the work of the circuit.

After the Quiet Day ~

when I found these buds a delightful reminder of the power of new life ~

I preached at St. Paul's and the enjoyed the visit to Norman Brehaut which is also in Eunice's account.

And so to Jersey, with more generous hospitality, more official visits - Bailiff and Lt. Governor - and then some conversations. The first was with the women of Methodism and the second with a circuit gathering with additional invited guests. The questions were very thorough, so I hope they found my responses equally worthwhile.

I was taken to prison next day and was once again received with warm hospitality. I am still coming to terms with how different the life in prison and the whole system is compared with both large and small prisons I have visited here. But Restorative Justice is valued everywhere.

I felt this image of the Saving Hands reflected both my time in prison and my visit to the Hospice which followed. Once again we were greatly impressed by the commitment of the Methodist people on Jersey to the work of God amongst those in need.

Then on to Messy Church, which while it always varies from place to place and from time to time, was like good Church anywhere - welcoming,prayerful, fun, worshipful, and very hard work! And finally a Lent Group at the manse, where it was really good to join in discussion among God's faithful people.