Friday, 22 July 2011

Durham Miners Gala and more.....

It’s blog time again and a varied two weeks since I last posted!
The Durham Miners Gala was fascinating with an upturn in interest due in part to other Trade Unions now being invited to attend and march but also because it seemed to be a celebration of by-gone years rather than a place for regret or recrimination (though these were still present). At the Cathedral Service five new banners from the former pit villages of Co Durham were dedicated at a packed service - standing room only! Very moving!

Peter Whittaker’s farewell service in West Yorkshire was a privilege to be a part of and interesting that many of the tributes to Peter mentioned his Pastoral care - which you may have gathered is one of my “pet” themes this year! Interesting too that many of the instances quoted Peter has no recollection of! But that perhaps is how it should be!
Queens Garden Party last Tuesday. Poured with rain most of the time so difficult to see much through umbrellas. Difficult choice between watching out for the Queen and grabbing food from the tea tent. The Vice President and I came to different conclusions about priorities! The Duke of Edinburgh (as well as the Queen) seemed to be a star attraction this year after his recent 90th birthday!
So thankfulness for the past has been a common thread - which I imagine may be repeated at Wesley College Bristol on Saturday and in the celebrations in Ghana next week as the church there celebrates 50 years of autonomy. Watch this space - although maybe not until I return from The World Methodist Council/Conference in Durban!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

The London 10K Run!

Last Sunday in Southport was a day of inspiring worship as we received and ordained presbyters and deacons into the Methodist Church. Today was a great contrast, but in its own way just as inspiring. Six Methodists running for MRDF joined more than 25,000 runners who were raising money for a wide variety of Charities. It was a warm day and quite a challenge for many of us as we ran/jogged/walked past the historic landmarks of central London. There was a terrific atmosphere and the onlookers cheered everyone, whether they knew them or not. Lots of runners wore fancy dress – I just don’t know how they managed in the heat.

It was in January that I heard myself offering to do the run, to keep our district development enabler Heather company. I’ve never done anything like it before, and wondered what on earth I was letting myself in for, but I printed off some ‘running for beginners’ guidelines and started a schedule of running/walking around Congleton Park in the early mornings. It was a beautiful place to be and a far cry from the crowded streets of London that we experienced today. There were some setbacks, but I set myself the target of getting round in 1 hour 30 minutes, and achieved it today with 5 minutes to spare! It is without doubt the most challenging thing I have set myself to do for a very long time – way out of my comfort zone.

Our MRDF team comprised myself, Heather Staniland, Helen Boardman, Judy Gibbons, Chris Collins and Jane Cowie. We had a great time together, and will hopefully have raised several thousands of pounds for a very worthwhile organisation. Next year…… who knows?

If you would like to donate, here’s the link:

The money will be used for the latest emergency to need relief.

Reflections on The Methodist Conference

What a great privilege it was to be able to share in the chairing of Conference! I have really appreciated it, and there has been such a wonderful atmosphere for much of the time. We were led so helpfully in worship first thing each business morning, and in Bible Study on Colossians 1 15-20 after lunch each day. Worship and Bible study set a really good tone for the business, and members of Conference responded well with thoughtful contributions to the debates. There was also plenty of humour and we laughed a lot! Ending the day with pastoral conversation and prayer seemed to be helpful to many representatives.

We had some important business to do, and got off to a good start with the General Secretary’s Report which has inspired many of us. You can watch again this and all other reports on the Methodist Conference website

The business was interspersed with hymns and songs both ancient and modern, ably led by our resident worship band. We were introduced to many from ‘Singing the Faith’ which will be published before too long.

We said thank you and farewell to the Assistant Secretary of Conference, Revd. Ken Howcroft, who has been a rock to a succession of Presidents and Vice-Presidents struggling to keep to procedure from time to time! His next appointment is in Rome, and he was presented with a ‘Teach yourself Italian’ manual. (NB - should be easy after New Testament Greek)

Somehow, just when Leo and I were beginning to feel at home, we were singing ‘Captain of Israel’s host’ (our traditional final hymn) and it was all over –until we meet in Plymouth in 2012

Thank you to the many people who worked hard every day to oil the wheels of the Conference machine – especially to those who were up till the early hours of the morning getting our paperwork ready each day.

Now we need to take our decisions back to our circuits and churches for prayer and action!

Friday, 8 July 2011

My First Blog!

Welcome to The President’s Blog! I have never written a blog before so hope this will be of some interest.

Back in the north-east eating fish and chips on Whitley Bay promenade and hardly believing Conference has happened! Was it really me there? But it was an amazing experience with the Ordination Service at Chester Cathedral probably the highlight and Leo’s Bar probably the lowlight! I was petrified by the thought of chairing Conference but Ken and Gareth were incredibly helpful and the members of Conference were incredibly gracious so got through it okay I think! So impressed by prayerful atmosphere and desire to listen to each other - what a change from a few years ago! Recovery day today before Durham, West Yorkshire and then to Norfolk for a few days holiday.

My already good friend and great colleague Ruth will I’m sure be blogging more often than I do but I will try and keep you in touch with things. First prayer item please - that Charlotte won’t spend too much on clothes for the Queens Garden Party! Secondly and more seriously I’d particularly value your prayers during this year. My itinerary is on the Presidential Prayer Card.

Monday, 4 July 2011

What a wonderful weekend.

To quote my predecessor it has been an “amazing weekend”. The sun showed its face and there was a real sense of optimism in the air. I want to say a big thank you to everybody who has sent their best wishes and been upholding me and Leo in prayer. We really felt enfolded in your and God’s love. We must congratulate Alison and Eunice on their years of office, they have made a real impression on the church and will be a hard act to follow. We both wish them well and thank them for the work they have done this year. This week the conference will look at many things of importance to the Church and how the people called Methodist respond to a changing world. You will no doubt read about that in other places but please do hold the conference in your prayers.

It was wonderful to share in the weekend with members of my family here in the UK and also some of my adopted family from Kenya. And thank you to everybody who travelled to make the event so uplifting.