Monday, 4 February 2013

VP - Justice on the agenda

During last week I travelled to both Queen's in Birmingham and Cliff College, having been aware that a lot of comments in Methodist circles about Fruitful Field could be read as implied (at best) criticism of the two centres. This seems to me to be grossly unfair both on Cliff and Queen's; but also on so many who were involved in the long decision-making process, not least those involved at the Conferences both in Southport and Plymouth. Anyway, on Saturday morning it was a change of 'justice' gear, and I met with a group (some of whom are in this photo at Bloxwich)
from the W+S District who will be going out to Rwanda in July to work alongside local Church and reconciliation groups. We looked at a number of issues, joys and difficulties that tend to accompany such visits, but I found the whole morning inspiring. The afternoon was spent with some young people from around the District who had been given the opportunity to tell the Vice-President how they felt about the Church. The whole time was led by a group called 'Alive and Kicking' emanating from Kinver,
who were excellent leaders of worship and discussion. So my thanks to Tom, Jake and the two called James. One of the issues that was raised was the lack of good teaching in church groups for young Christians relating, in everyday situations such as school, with friends from other faith backgrounds. Just one of many challenges expressed! On the theme of justice, John Howard (District Chair) left at 5am on Sunday morning to get the Heathrow flight to Tel Aviv; and then begin a couple of months of his sabbatical as an Ecumenical Accompanist for Israel/Palestine. Now there's a country that needs to find justice and peace - has it ever, in all the time I have been preaching, been off my list for intercessory prayer? It certainly was again at St John's, Wolverhampton where I led worship on Sunday morning as part of their 50th Anniversary celebrations. Such a good spirit was evident. Good worship followed by some fascinating conversations about their involvement with the local community and all its changes over half a century. Later that afternoon in Bridgnorth a chance to meet folk from the Telford Circuit over a lovely afternoon tea (with fruit cake!) prior to their time of prayer for new mission planning in the area. The service that followed was in the joint URC/Methodist Church, also 50 years old and the first LEP in the country.
It was good to spot another VP in the congregation - Leon Murray(1985) and compare notes afterwards! Lots of energy in the worship and I hope and pray that it is repeated in the mission outreach; and one venture which began today (Monday) was the ecumenical Food Bank in Bridgnorth. Another justice issue for us in Britain in 2013 - and we probably wouldn't have foreseen that 50 years ago! Tomorrow Mark and I will be at the House of Commons for an all-faiths reception to discuss the jubilee campaign for debt cancellation and its continued relevance today. Mark is one of the main speakers at this Jubilee for Justice event.

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