Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Last Sunday I was invited to preach at Watlington (Oxford Circuit) on the occasion of the Methodist Church's 200th Anniversary. A warm welcome, an air of celebration created by the large numbers of visitors that had enjoyed cream teas the day before, and a group of people who wanted to move forwards with God. It gladdened my heart to realise that a good number of local Anglicans had joined in the worship. It was a joy to be with them all, the bring and share lunch was of a very high standard, and the anniversary (fruit) cake rounded things off very well indeed! Below is a picture taken by Phil Crockett after the service. An excellent village occasion.
On Tuesday I was in London for meetings, notably about recent government initiatives on renewable energy. A real buzz about London in preparation for the Olympics. Then on to Methodist Church House to help with planning the Connexional Team service in September. Conversations with a number of old friends and colleagues. Good to hear up to date news from Sierra Leone, from Arnold Temple; that 'Singing the Faith' is being sold in such numbers; the sensitive way that the Fruitful Field report is now being progressed; that mission partners, the Harbottles, are all set for Haiti. I also saw Tom Quenet, who has volunteered as an 'ambassador' for the London Games. I wonder how many other Methodists have volunteered to be part of this amazing world wide celebration? This is what travellers coming to Heathrow will be greeted by - well the outer layers anyway! Thanks for the use of the pic. Very athletic and the colours suit you, Tom!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The thanksgiving service on Friday for Peter Baker in Slough was very moving. The church itself was packed, and the overflow hall also full. Andrew, Jill and Tim were a real witness to the love of God in the most difficult of situations. I know that the family will be upheld by many in prayer. On Saturday Isabel and I travelled to Hove, hosted by Isabel's cousin Char and Jonathan. A lovely meal was shared with a number of local church leaders and I found myself involved in a number of important and spiritually deep conversations; which enabled the worship on Sunday to be both more meaningful and more personal. Some visitors from Zambia stopped to talk after the service, about their HIV/AIDS work. Global and local. On Tuesday evening, it was off to Sutton Coldfield, to be with Rev Joshva Raja (Selly Oak Centre for Mission Studies) who was being inducted or collated as Vicar of Curdworth, Middleton and Wishaw. Joshva has given excellent service over the last few years and inspired many from different parts of the world on the MA (Mission Studies) course. It was a joy to share with so many others in this service, conducted by the Bishop of Aston. One thing has been consistently disconcerting this week. I keep turning up for events as a friend, but treated by many as the Vice-President!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Vice President

After a triumphal attempt at blogging yesterday, I need to add some other highlights of the Plymouth Conference: Mark's address was excellent on Saturday, topped and tailed by the young women's choir from Edmonton (in the Enfield Circuit where I spent over 30 years). It was very special for me to be ministered to by youngsters I have seen growing up. The Sunday ordination service at Gwennap Pit was such a wonderful occasion, not just for the diaconal ordinands, but also everyone involved. When the rain came it added to the sense of joy without detracting from the sense of occasion. The thoughtfully provided white ponchos came into their own, but I have to report that Sue Culver provided Steve Wild and the Bishop of Truro with purple ponchos; and Steve seemed to be enjoying this distinction a little too much, I felt! Chatting to my neighbour, the same person that had received a soggy communion loaf from me shortly before, she turned out to be the Leader of Cornwall Council (we all looked the same under white ponchos! Is there a sermon there?)and was very impressed by the occasion and Eunice Attwood's sermon - a sort of prophecy about how to get out of the pit! I have come home via our son's house move near Salisbury, then on monday my work with village churches restarted. Good news, bad news, a bible study where people shared deeply about suffering, a well-intentioned letter misconstrued by the receiver, a week of rain and sunshine. And tomorrow a funeral for a much-loved and talented young man. Please pray for God's presence and peace for the family.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


Apologies for not blogging before. Thought I'd cracked it at Conference, but clearly not! So a few comments on Conference highlights, for me at least. There were some difficult debates, not least about training (Fruitful Field) and the proposals re leadership of the Connexional Team - but how gracious people were with such emotional subjects. Ongoing prayers needed for people affected, some of whom are very good friends. I was delighted with the number of world church visitors who ventured forward, notably the Argentinian Bishop who spoke first in the discussion on the report on Drones - given what the politicians of respective nations have said recently about the South Atlantic, I found this very moving. So many hopeful signs in our Church. The young people spoke so well to their particular pieces of business, and the Church now needs to hear them more to other parts of the Agenda. There is a real focus on deepening Discipleship, which can only be good for both the Church and wider society. Without going on too long, sitting on the platform and being surrounded by prayer, by regular worship, by uplifting moments from all parts of Conference, was very special. What a privilege.