Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Coventry, Sheffield and Durham

The 70th Anniverary of Methodist Homes took place in the grand surroundings of Coventry Cathedral on Wednesday 17th, where Keith Albans led the service and many voices were heard, including Susan Howdle, an ex-VP. Baroness Kathleen Richardson preached a sensitive and powerful sermon, and many friends made it a very happy occasion. On a personal note, I think the Joshua 14 reading that I was asked to read was not my easiest assignment of the year! On Friday we were off to Sheffield and an excellent question and answer evening with Methodist Women in Britain, chaired by Mary Jefferson, mainly with a world church theme. This subject was further explored at Synod the next day; and there were also impressive contributions from Ian Bell on Pioneer Ministry (see photo).and Steve Hucklesby (JPIT) opening up a very good discussion on the use of drones in warfare. Vernon Marsh led us purposefully, and Ric Stott's thread of meditative prayer centred us on God's grace throughout an excellent day. The day was rounded off perfectly for me by wins for both Birmingham City and Warwickshire - the sun shone! On Sunday I was planned for Loundsley Green in Chesterfield, at the LEP there. With Diane still in hospital, I was impressed by just how much ongoing work was being continued and developed by a faithful and prayerful fellowship. A day in the Banbury circuit was followed by an evening ride up the M1 for Isabel to attend a family funeral in Leeds on Tuesday, and for me to continue to Durham and the Wesley Study Centre. Calvin Samuel arranged a very full programme which enabled me to meet many of the Methodist tutors (including Jocelyn Bryan, Julie and Andrew Lunn) some of the diaconal and ministerial students, and also staff from Cranmer Hall and St John's College (notably David Wilkinson). It was also interesting to attend a postgraduate seminar led by Joel Edwards on prison ministry. It was a day primarily for listening. Time and again this year I have heard, both expressed and not spoken, the tension of the Covenant Service prayers - with God apparently calling us from where our inclinations might naturally lead. Not easy at all. Altogether, another week of being with lovely, gracious and committed people in Cathedral grandeur, representing Circuits and Districts, engaged in first-class ministerial formation, and working tirelessly at local mission. What a privilege!

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