Friday, 5 August 2011

Variety is the Spice of Life

What a varied fortnight this has been, starting on Sunday 17th July with the recording of morning worship at our local church, Biddulph Methodist Church, for BBC Radio Stoke. It’s the third or fourth time we have done this, and our old friend and producer Simon Penfold knows the church well, so does not take long to set up. It’s a joint service between our own congregation and that of Brown Lees Methodist Church, who are worshipping with us monthly in preparation for us becoming one congregation in September when their building closes. Members from both congregations lead the worship, and I preach the sermon. We are perhaps a bit more subdued than we would normally be, conscious that when it is broadcast we will be proclaiming the Gospel to more than 50,000
listeners - an awesome responsibility that we don’t take lightly. But it feels like we have lost some of our informality and responsiveness as a congregation.
Then on Tuesday a trip ‘up to London to visit the Queen’ as the old nursery rhyme goes. The President has told you about this in his post. We also enjoyed the good company of Peter and Doreen Whittaker who were to move house the following day but nevertheless entered into the spirit of the occasion, and enjoyed as much as I did the lovely Palace gardens with some very fragrant roses.

Thursday saw me on the train to London once again, this time to attend the MHA day conference on The Church and an Ageing Society. I was invited to give the opening address on ‘Learning as disciples of Jesus’ and lead a workshop on ‘The
church’s role in caring for the carers’. There were four other workshops to choose from, and Revd Keith Albans gave the final address on ‘Older People in a Mission- Shaped Church. Around 80 people participated, and it was a pleasure to be reminded of the multi-cultural nature of the London District, and the riches that are brought to Methodism. I look forward to seeing at first hand some of the excellent work that MHA is doing as I visit Homes in various districts.

Then we welcomed visitors from New Zealand, cousins whom we haven’t seen for 10 years, and who were thrilled to have followed Conference on the ‘watch again’ facility. No sooner had they gone and we welcomed back our Kenyan visitors, Rev Elijah and Mrs Priscilla Mwirigi, who had been travelling in Scotland for a week. They have had a wonderful four weeks in the UK, catching up on mission partners whom they had known, more than 40 years ago in some cases. Most moving was the reunion with the minister for whom Elijah had been the garden boy, and who enabled him to gain an education. Elijah has himself now been a Methodist minister for nearly 40 years. Elijah and Priscilla returned home to attend the Ph.D ceremony of their eldest son. What proud parents! We will quickly be reunited with them in Nairobi when we visit with MRDF.

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