Monday, 22 October 2012

VP - Much to celebrate and ponder

Back from Bethlehem and the next day it was joining the wonderful celebrations for Westminster Central Hall's 100th Anniversary. A lovely celebration supper on Saturday evening with excellent speeches; and joining in an uplifting act of worship on Sunday morning. So much going on at WCH at present, and sobering to remember how close the Conference decision was about keeping it open, not so long ago. Monday at Church House to be part of the farewell to Mark Wakelin and John Ellis as they leave the Connexional Team. Two very different people and their varied gifts were rightly celebrated. Both will leave big gaps in the overall leadership of the Church and Connexional Team. Mark and I were together again at Queen's, Birmingham on Tuesday for the annual visit there to welcome the Scholarship students from around the world, and also the new Methodist students in training. After leading sessions for the two groups, and after the obligatory photo with staff and students
we were involved in a vibrant and meaningful Communion service in a packed chapel. It was a very happy day; but staff at Queen's were also very aware of the significance for other training providers of the Fruitful Fields decisions at Conference. Wednesday to Friday were spent at Methodist Council in Sutton Coldfield, the first afternoon and evening jointly with the URC Mission Council. David Cornick of Churches Together in England reminded us of our different histories, but also of our present similarities. It was good to be reminded about what we do well as denominations, but also what we could do even better together. Thereafter, the enormous range of work and reports that is the Methodist Council. I mused more than once about how previous generations provided large representative committees that spent hours looking at specific areas of work; and now it is the responsibility of a relatively small Council of generalists to exercise the scrutiny role on behalf of Conference. It is a heavy responsibility which needs the prayers of all Methodist people, not least David Gamble who now chairs the Council. It was a week to remind me that, in the life of the Church, bold decisions need big vision and broad shoulders; but constantly underpinned by prayerful discernment.

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