Wednesday, 20 March 2013
It was good to be in my home Circuit for Mothering Sunday, leading worship at Easington, complete with a traditional and scrumptious Simnel cake! Last Wednesday I attended the launch of the Horsefair Project at the New Room, Bristol, which is a really imaginative scheme to build new educational and office space adjoining John Wesley's chapel. A place to study Wesleyan thinking in the middle of a busy Shopping area. Potentially very exciting! On Saturday I was asked to take part in a BEH District day conference for small chapels at Harlington, Bedfordshire; and it was so encouraging to have a good turn out, but also to hear the imaginative and creative ways that members of small urban and rural chapels were responding to the spiritual needs of the present age. A sort of theme emerged, in my own mind at least, about possibly 'too many chapels, but too few churches' - a feeling that the actual buildings and their upkeep can too often drain energy away from being a vibrant Christian presence (or church) in all our communities. That community presence is vital, notwithstanding the need of others to worship with a bigger, better resourced, group of people. After Anne and Andrew Brown's gracious hospitality, on Sunday morning I led a section service at Boxted, north of Colchester; a number of the congregation could not cross the Colchester Marathon route very easily, but it was a warm fellowship and we were well looked after. After lunch with an old Chester House inmate, flatmate and football chum - Jon Bloom - it was off to Tendring Circuit and the largest village green (43 acres, I was repeatedly told!) in England, or UK or even Europe - Great Bentley. If you disagree with the last sentence, please contact Great Bentley, not me! The welcome and the quality of tea certainly matched the size of the green. It was a week-end when rural Methodism definitely demonstrated life, care and grace in large quantities. Monday and Tuesday was spent with the District Chairs at Northampton for the Connexional Leaders' Forum, and in my short association with CLF I have found it such a knowledgeable and insightful group. It has been a privilege to be associated with it.