Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Chaplains and Churches

My programme for the Leeds District!

Saturday 6th. October Arrival at 11:43 in Harrogate.  1pm. – Signing of the Area Partnership with the Ripon and Leeds Diocese, Trinity Methodist Harrogate, Act of Worship followed by refreshments.

Sunday 7th. October 10:30am – Morning Worship Wesley Chapel Harrogate, 150th. Anniversary, followed by lunch and early afternoon talk.   6pm. Pontefract Central Methodist 60yrs, Jubilee Celebrations

Monday 8th. October 10am – 3pm – Leeds Bradford International Airport Chaplaincy Visit.  7:30pm – District Forum Night at Oxford Place

Tuesday 9th. October 12pm – Lunch with the Supernumerary Ministers from the District at Guiseley Methodist Church

Hardly drawing breath from Kingswood School in Bath I found myself travelling North to the Leeds.  Those familiar with trains will have their favourite routes, and it’s a good journey to Leeds from London.  Liz Smith the Chair is currently off duty, poorly and so I was met by the Acting Chair, Julian Pursehouse.  Our first task was to be part of a covenant signing between the Anglicans and Methodists.  It was a short and excellent service – and to everyone’s delight Liz was able to do the Methodist part of the signing – a fitting thing given how much work she had put into the process.  Our hopes and prayers are with the District and the Diocese as the new mission possibilities this careful diplomacy will release.  www.leedsmethodist.org.uk

Below  - The Bishop of Ripon & Leeds (John Packer)and the Chair of the Leeds Methodist District(Liz Smith) sign the agreement. Behind them stand the Bishop of Knaresborough (James Bell), the Acting Chair of the Leeds District (Julian Pursehouse) and your friendly blogger.

I was preaching in Harrogate www.wesleychapelharrogate.org.uk/htdocs/Pages/htlm/specialevents.html and Pontefract www.centralmethodistchurchpontefract.co.uk/ for two Church Anniversaries. 

I think every President sees Methodism at its best, positive people in good numbers, but despite the obvious, it is heartening that we can still do both.  We had a lunch together in Harrogate where I was the ‘after lunch speaker’.  I can’t help feeling that they had heard quite enough of me by then! It was great to see the famous minister behind the hat at Conference without his hat at Harrogate and the minister at Pontefract all the way from Meru in Kenya where I was a little boy.

Reverend Jacob Kaiga

I had an extraordinary day at the Leeds Bradford airport – with Nick Baker – which I’ve written about in the Recorder.  Chaplaincy ‘works’ – in that we not only ‘serve and make contact’ with people we simply don’t see coming through the doors of our church,  but that we empower and enable others to be involved in a distinctly missionary activity which honours those among whom we serve, and encourages some of the values, hopes and dreams of the Gospel to flourish.

The District Forum on Monday evening was a good way to bring together all the various groups that have to meet, and there was time for reflection and questions to each other about where we are all going.  I have kept playing with the idea that it’s not the ‘summer that is over’ with all the good things in the past, but the ‘winter that is over’, with the first signs of spring.  I’m not there yet and each time I explore this idea I’m given new insights.  I’ve found it helpful though – and some others have said, ‘that’s exciting’.

There was a good turnout at Guisley on Tuesday for another excellent lunch and service. Among our Supernumerary ministers there are a number of concerns about ‘where the church is going’, not least issues around a recent rise in rents for the Methodist Minister Housing Association houses and of course the radical decisions of Conference.  I think my main job is to listen and promise to feed back to those who might have a say in such matters.  However, besides the anxiety about where things are going, there is also an incredibly passionate belief in the Church and the possibilities we face.  Ministers who have officially ‘sat down’ are often an increasingly important part of the very ‘un sat down church’.  There is a need, I suspect, to reflect on this more – and create space in our thinking that allows continuing ministry to be recognised and honoured in a more coherent and consistent way. www.guiseleymethodistchurch.co.uk/

Mark Wakelin

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