Monday, 27 June 2011

Final Week~End

Travelled north again to spend time in the Malton Circuit. It was good to be able to be with them for the evening of music and to rejoice at the talent available for their celebration. It was also fun to catch up with friends from College days!
We shared in the 200th Anniversary on the Sunday morning, reflecting on the Fruit of the Spirit, and God's desire to grow all that the Spirit offers in us. We gave thanks for all that our forebears had offered in service and witness and committed ourselves again to what God has planned for the future.
Then a celebration meal; a visit I had promised to make while I was in the north; and home to finalise all that is needed for Conference and the new President and Vice President.
Thank you for all your prayers which have sustained us during this year, and for the prayers that are already supporting Leo and Ruth as they too follow God's leading.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Mixed Week~End!

A very interesting mix of events last week-end. I had originally agreed to go to Shaw for their 200th Anniversary on the Sunday, and then the possibilities snowballed in a great way.
First, on the Saturday, was an exciting visit to The Welcome in Knutsford, where I was much encouraged by all that is being done alongside that community. I met interesting people; discovered at least some of the activities; and shared in their worship. If you are a Conference person, you will find some of their story in the Agenda, which means that if you aren't, you can still find it on line!
Then there was the gathering in memory of the Rev'd John Banks, whom I had the privilege of knowing when I served in the Manchester and Stockport District. We explored some Biblical material together and I enjoyed our discussion about possible interpretations and the importance, or otherwise, of very different approaches and what they might mean.
The next day was my day at Shaw, where we celebrated together with people involved there now, as well as with others who were part of the journey but have since moved on. It was good to meet old friends and new folk, and to rejoice at the record of work and witness while looking ahead at what God might invite us to next.
And finally, on the Monday, I went to Ampleforth to spend just a short time with the Ordinands of the Diaconal Order whom I will have the awesome responsibility of ordaining (and in one case, welcoming) at this year's Conference. The welcome, the sessions I was able to attend, and the worship during my visit, made me sorry that I was not free to share the whole retreat. Please pray for all who will be Received into Full Connexion, and Ordained if not already ordained, this year ~ Diaconal or Presbyteral, known to you by name or not ~ and for all involved in the services.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Irish Conference ~ a PS

Thank you Eunice as always!
Simply to add a couple of reflections. It was, as she commented, a joy to be part of the Ordination Service, and interesting to note there is only one, with 6 ordinands who therefore have their time of offering testimony at Conference rather than in their Districts or Circuits. It was also good to share in the Commissioning of the Probationers as Conference sent them out. And I wanted to add my thanks to Richard and Diane, and to Margaret and Ronnie who looked after us so well.
Please pray for Gillian Kingston and Ian Henderson as you are praying for Leo and Ruth next month and into the future.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Superintendents Conference 2011

Early on Tuesday morning 14th June I joined Rev Leo Osborn, Chair of Newcastle District and President designate of the Methodist Conference on the 7.25am train out of Newcastle to Birmingham for the Superintendents Conference 2011 at St John's Hotel, Solihull, Birmingham.

Leo and I joined the conference as over 30 new Superintendents were ending their sessions prior to 110 existing Superintendents joining them for the rest of the conference. A team from the Discipleship and Ministries Cluster had organised an excellent programme of workshops, seminars and worship alongside opportunities to share ideas and insights from each other provided by the very comfortable residential environment of the Hotel.

Over the last year as Vice-President I have observed just how crucial the role of Superintendent is in enabling, equipping and inspiring the work and mission of God to take place.

I believe we are at a crucial time in the life of our church, where words need turning into action, where change is embraced and risks are taken for the sake of the gospel amongst us.
Our Superintendents are a vital part of dreaming, describing, discerning and enabling the delivery of vision in our Circuits that we might truly be the people God calls us to be, life-giving and life-affirming disciples of Jesus.

Please pray for and support
the Superintendents you know as they each serve God by taking up what is a deeply rewarding but often challenging role in our church.

Irish Conference 2011

Alison and I were warmly received at the 242nd Irish Conference, held in Newtownards, Ireland from 9-12th June. The atmosphere throughout was of generous hospitality and a church engaging with the significant effects of the current economic crisis alongside the remaining challenges of living in a post-conflict community. We heard of many inspiring ways in which the church is relating in its communities bringing a message of hope and peace. A new report on Pioneer Ministries spoke of the intention to create new ways of being church which were relational, missional and intentionally evangelistic.

Here are the British representatives to the Irish Conference alongside Alison and myself.
I invited my colleague Rev Eden Fletcher, Superintendent of the Newcastle Central and East Circuit and Alison invited her friend Mrs Jennie Scutt who was also accompanied by her husband Rev Andrew Scutt.

Here we are with the newly installed Irish President Rev Ian Henderson accompanied by the Irish representatives to the British Conference.

The department of education and youth spoke of their work after giving us an example of a lively and vibrant presentation they have developed for use in schools, particularly amongst children with special needs.

On the Conference Platform -from left to right
Rev Paul Kingston - ex-President
Ms Gillian Kingston - Lay Leader of the Conference (3 year term of office)
Rev Ian Henderson- newly inducted President of Conference
Rev Donald Ker - Secretary of Conference

After the conference concluded with a wonderful Ordination service Eden and I took the opportunity to visit Edgehill College where we received wonderful hospitality from the Rev Richard, Prinicipal of the College and his wife Rev Diane Clutterbuck. We were deeply impressed by the premises and the resources available to the whole church community.
We also called into the East Belfast Mission (on our way to the Airport), having heard about their inspiring work over many years in responding to the needs of their community and engaging significantly in the peace process. We chatted with the Mission staff in their re:fresh cafe about the challenges of the past and the future.

Below is a picture of the building site from which will emerge the incredible new (£21 million) visionary project that will open next year, 'Skainos' from the Greek word meaning tent or dwelling. It will provide accommodation for the work of the East Belfast Mission, bringing together a new sanctuary, cafe, an employability centre, youth and community groups, social housing and a civic square. It speaks boldly as a sign of christian hope and commitment in the midst of the economic downturn by the East Belfast Mission to remain in an area it has served since 1809.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Outcome Day

After having to take a few days off, two of which I spent being looked after and doing nothing, it felt really good to pick up on the Presidential duties again by joining the Outcome folk for the day in Chelsea. It took as long to get across London as it did to get from Market Harborough to St. Pancras in the first place ~ but it was worth it.
We had drinks together as others arrived, and then began to share some thoughts about just who is at the margins. We agreed that marginalisation is always contextual; that it changes through our lives, and sometimes in the course of one day; that even the most disregarded of us have moments of power ~ some of us more than we choose to acknowledge; and that our desire is to continue to stand alongside all who may be ignored or rejected. We also had some interesting conversation about whether, if God is at the margins, they actually become the centre ~ which was fun.
Lunch was good too! We looked together at a couple of Biblical passages, considering various possible approaches to the Woman at the Well, and considering why Paul compromised in Acts 16. It was good to learn so much from each other and then, in conclusion, I had the honour of serving the members and friends by presiding at an informal service of Holy Communion. Thank you to everyone who made this great day possible, by the organising, the hospitality and your presence.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Isle of Man District Visit

John and I departed from Newcastle via Manx 2 Airlines to join Rev David Gamble and his wife Liz for our visit to the Isle of Man District. Rev Malcolm Peacock and his wife Sarah had kindly invited us all to stay with him and his family during the weekend of the famous Island TT Races. It is customary (and I confess to not knowing why) for the ex-President and the current Vice-President to visit this District together.

The main event of our stay was the 'Bikers Service' at Sulby Methodist Church, where Malcolm had invited David and I to preach. Many Bikers have been making the annual pilgrimage to the TT Races and this service for several years. It is the first time I have seen an advert for a 'Bikers Service' on 'Mad Sunday' sadly described because it is the day when visitors are renowned for driving rather dangerously around the Island. Many churches on the Island provide hospitality
during the TT Races, including food and accommodation.

Rev David Gamble and I were both rather surprised to be described in the local Island newspaper as nationally renowned speakers!

The couple below attending the Bikers Service were also celebrating
their 2nd Wedding Anniversary.

Watching the TT for the first time was breathtaking, the bikes were doing well over 160 miles per hour and were almost impossible to see but you could always hear them roaring past you.

It is many years since my husband John and I rode around on motorbikes we do however often hire a motorbike on holiday, and thoroughly enjoy riding around in the sunshine (I was always a fair weather biker!).

We had the pleasure of visiting a brilliant youth club held every Friday night at Ramsay Methodist Church, where children with special needs alongside other young people enjoy a meal together, games and dancing.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Regional 'Methodist Women in Britain' Event

Here I am home in Newcastle with my colleague Rev Eden Fletcher, Superintendent of the Newcastle Central and East Circuit responding to an invitation from the Regional Methodist Women in Britain to attend their Bi-annual conference/retreat. The retreat was at Minsteracres taking the theme of 'Living Stones'.
This was a day out in Newcastle which began at the Sage (wonderful concert venue on the Quayside) with the ladies being greeted by the Mayor of Gateshead. At 11.30 we met the group at Wesley Square on Newcastle's quayside in front of the obelisk which is a monument to Wesley's first visit to Newcastle in 1742.

We joyfully sang, 'O Thou who camest from above' reflected for a few moments on the history of Wesley in Newcastle and prayed together. The ice cream van was very tempting
but sadly no-one indulged!

Joyce Hindmarch led the afternoon worship service at Brunswick, Rev Leo Osborn, Chair of Newcastle District and President designate presided over Holy Communion and I preached. We had a deeply moving signing by Anne Collinson of the hymn 'I the Lord of Sea and Sky' which brought many of us to tears. A wonderful event and a delight to host the Methodist Women in Britain from the Cumbria, Darlington, Newcastle, Scotland and Shetland Districts of our church.