What a varied few days - just like Circuit or District ministry! Presiding at the service to mark the retirement of the writer of the church column in The Northern Echo who is also Chairman of The Northern Football League, world domino's champion (or something!) and real ale expert was an exciting challenge - with football people, journalists, church goes and well-wishers among the 150 congregation in Darlington. A real opportunity to talk about the Christ who holds all things together!
Plymouth and Exeter District is a long way from the north-east and seems more scattered so it was good to be in some of the places at the edge (in Bude and Minehead) as well as in Exeter. Two Circuit Inaugurations and one Circuit service. Folk seemed in good heart, the welcome was warm as were the pasties and the cream teas were delicious! Bang goes the pounds I lost during the Great North Run! Then to the Connexional Leaders Forum (+ extras) in Northampton with some really important discussions centered around The Fruitful Field project. If you haven't heard of it already you soon will! It could have got out of hand especially with me chairing but the graciousness and careful listening to one another that I valued at Conference was present again.
But the highlight of the past few days? Probably visiting the Local Worship and Preachers Trust Home at Westerley in Minehead and just being able to chat to the residents there - one just turned
100 and another (only 93!) who preached at a service when I sensed God's call that I should offer to become a Chair of District. Realised again that Pastoral Care is where my heart is - not least because of all I receive from it!
Before you hear from me again I shall hopefully have survived/enjoyed Conservative Party Conference, Score Chaplains Conference, Methodist Council and a trip to Birmingham to begin my 5 day visit! Its all varied but hugely interesting and an enormous privilege. Thanks for your prayers. Last chance to donate to MRDF (Run Fund!). Can we push it up to £5000 - I think so!
PS In the sea at Sunderland yesterday with Charlotte my wife. You'll never see such a picture again! No one swims at Sunderland (even in July) but then its never been so hot before!