Friday, 8 March 2013

Appreciating what is essential

Monday to Thursday was spent a 'Connecting Disciples'layworkers' conference at High Leigh. The broad theme was 'reconciliation' and the Connexional Team had pulled out many stops to get an excellent range and quality of workshop leaders. Dr Lia Shamada gave an outstanding address on reconciliation, drawing especially on her experiences in Northern Ireland and the East end of London; and how we might strive for a final product, but that reconciliation is actually a journey. One of the joys of the time together, not least over mealtimes, was to hear stories and experiences from fellow lay workers. It was wonderful to hear how God is using a variety of people in so many transforming ways. But I also came away with a slight sadness, having heard that many layworkers feel unsupported, taken for granted, not included in Circuit staff meetings, not even an annual appraisal of their work. Giving layworkers some encouragement would be appreciated; but giving them an opportunity on a Circuit agenda to tell others publicly what they do each week, that would be even better! From there I went north to Wesley House, Cambridge a pastoral visit to be alongside staff and students. Jane Leach and the staff were so gracious in the midst of such a difficult time for the college. The time with the students was a mixture of sharp questions and good fun in the common room, and having a listening ear in private. Given the whole context of WH at the moment, the morale was better than I could have expected and much credit must go to the leadership of WH. To maintain such a good atmosphere and sense of purpose next year will, in my opinion, require special consideration from the Connexion both for WH and Durham.

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