Tuesday, 30 December 2014


Now is the time to catch up on some of the things I have been doing since the last blog.

Upon returning from 3-Generate, I was immediately off to Iona, where I had been invited to lead a Quiet Week in the historic Abbey. There were 12 retreatants, from Britain, USA and Finland. We spent the week learning and praying together.

Iona has been a place of prayer since St Columba first landed there in 563, and the whole place is soaked with the sanctity and devotion of generations of the faithful. I was pleased to be allowed to place a Conference candle on the altar of the Abbey Church.

Then to Haiti, with the Methodist Relief and Development organisation, All We Can, to see some of the work of the Methodist Church of Haiti, particularly with respect to health care.
With Rev Paul, the Chair of the Haiti District, also Dr John Harbottle, a mission partner serving in Port au Prince, and Maurice Adams, CEO of All We Can

Visiting the dispensary at La Saline Clinic, part of a campus containing a Methodist Church, a school and a clinic

With Yachelle Watson, from Jamaica, newly ordained as Deacon, and now stationed in Port au Prince

In December I had been invited to preach in Sandal, Wakefield, and was delighted to be joined by three former Vice-Presidents of Conference: Peter Howdle, Susan Howdle and Richard Vautrey. Also in the photo is Rev Barry Lotz, minister at Sandal.
Here we are in front of the biggest Christmas tree I have ever seen in a church!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

3 Generate

I have just spent an energetic and exciting day with over 250 children and young people at 3-Generate!
Sadly, there were many more young people who wanted to come than there were spaces available, so they had to be turned away.
Perhaps the Methodist Church should make funds available to provide two 3-Generate events per year. Young people are our future.


During our joint visit to Queens I had the privilege of getting to know some of the international students. I met students on the MA leadership course from Sri Lanka, Kenya, Zambia and Sierra Leone. It was interesting to find out about some of the problems joys and challenges their home churches face, and to hear their impression of British Methodism!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

My Church (2)

Here we all are on our weekend away at Grange-over-Sands.  We looked at our understanding of the universe and the interconnectedness of all creation. Activities included discussion, prayer writing, banner making, Bible study and dance. It was good to spend time with one another, and learn and pray together.

Dial Park Primary School

When my local primary School found out that I had been elected as Vice-President they invited me to take an assembly to tell them all about it.
I told them the story of John Wesley, from his being rescued from a fire as a small boy, to his warmed heart, his travels on horseback, and the first Methodist Conference.
I explained that I was carrying on in this tradition, travelling the country to spread the message of God's love, only this time, not on horseback!

Saturday, 8 November 2014


Here is the window display at Methodist Church House for Remembrance Day. The message reads 'Peace is not just the end of conflict - it involves establishing justice and building trust'. There is an invitation to anyone to come inside and take a free copy of St John's Gospel; a replica of the ones distributed to the troops in World War 1.
Many thanks to all those who contributed to the setting up of the display.
The President of the Methodist Conference, the Rev Ken Howcroft will be representing the Methodist Church at the Cenotaph service tomorrow, November 9th.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Beds, Essex and Herts 18th-20th October

North Weald minister Jason Askew, self and Chair of District Anne Brown

The President and I visited Beds, Essex and Herts on a weekend visit. We were part of a District wide Local Preacher/Worship Leader study day on the Saturday which was challengingly entitled 'Cutting Edge Worship'! The president led workshops on new ways of praying, and mine was on preaching to 21st century congregations.
 My thanks to all who engaged with this subject and provided such stimulating discussions!

I was privileged to preach at the re-dedication of North Weald Methodist Church after some extensive refurbishment. The church has been transformed and is ready 'to serve the present age' in their village.

Gloucestershire circuit

October 10-11 saw me visiting the Gloucestershire circuit, where some local preachers and I shared in a Quiet Day. We were in the lovely little chapel at May Hill, deep in the Gloucestershire countryside and surrounded by stunning views. We were delighted when a reporter arrived to do a report on our small gathering for the local newspaper!
On the Sunday, members of the newly refurbished Cinderford Methodist Church and I shared in the leading of worship. One exciting part was the prayer table, which gave us images and ideas to create our own intercessions.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Liberal Democrat Conference

This was my second party conference, and this time I had the opportunity to interview my own MP Sir Andrew Stunell, Liberal Democrat MP for Hazel Grove. Sir Andrew attends a local Methodist church when in the constituency. Here he is with the representatives from the United Reformed, and Baptist churches, the Quakers and the Salvation Army. And me!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Hazel Grove

Hazel Grove Methodist Church was built in the 1970's, but stands on the site of an earlier church dating from the 1820's - on the corner of Wesley Street and Chapel Street, which seems appropriate! The Sunday School building was opened in 1914 next to the original chapel and this year celebrates its centenary.

At the final celebrations, which coincided with the Harvest Festival, it was great to meet Rev Juliet Wriglesworth, who spent her childhood in Hazel Grove and was a member of its Sunday School. She is now serving in the Newcastle upon Tyne (West) circuit.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Labour Party Conference 21-24 September

Earlier this week, I joined a group from the United Reformed Church, the Baptist Church, the Quakers and the Salvation Army who were visiting the Labour Party Conference in Manchester.

On the first evening, we had a thorough briefing about the conference, and the MPs who had agreed to meet us the following day. We learned about their backgrounds and priorities and agreed on the kind of things we would ask them.

The next morning was an intensive round of interviews. We assume that MPs would not be interested in what the churches have to say, but in fact there are many who welcome the opportunity to speak to us. I was frequently impressed with the values and idealism that lay behind their engagement in politics.
When listening to Ed Miliband's speech, I welcomed his pledge to increase investment in the National Health Service, and to develop its scope. I will be interested to hear what the other main parties propose.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Visit to Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District

Saturday 13th September was the Synod of Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District, held at Codsall Methodist Church. We spent an informative, honest and inspiring day together considering mental health and mental illness. I introduced the subject, and then we went into workshops on mental health first aid, exploding the myths, pastoral care and mental health, theology and mental health, dementia care, and building emotional resistance. This is a subject close to my heart and I appreciated the opportunity of being part of such a fruitful day.

On Sunday I was preaching at Ludlow, an historic town with a thriving and active Methodist church.

Ludlow was the home to Sarah Gwynne, wife to Charles Wesley, in a house opposite the church.

13-14th September was the annual Ludlow Food Fair, and the Methodist church were doing their bit by offering pudding tastings! Mmm!

Thanksgiving for the life of Rev Dr Kenneth Greet

On 6th September it was a great privilege to be part of this special service. It felt as if I was taking part in an important part of our Methodist Heritage. The service was led by the President, and their were contributions by, amongst others, Kenneth's family, representatives of the Conference, and of the Methodist Peace Fellowship. Rev Dr Brian Beck paid a tribute to the life of Kenneth Greet and Rev Dr Colin Morris preached the sermon. A large congregation joined in celebrating this '
Prince of the Church'.

Sunday, 31 August 2014


Greenbelt is a festival of music, literature and faith that takes place in the open air every year over the August Bank Holiday weekend. This year it moved to a new venue in the grounds of Boughton House near Kettering in Northamptonshire. In additions to concerts, talks and worship of different kinds, there is a large tent with exhibits and information from many different faith and justice organisations. The 'All We Can' stand provided an important Methodist presence.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014


Last weekend I made my first District visit, to Newcastle-on-Tyne, and it was a great privilege to preach at Seahouses Methodist Church, Northumberland.

I was baptised in this church. Every step in my life of faith, every twist and turn, every time that God has called me or inspired me or held me or challenged me, all that began in this place and at that moment. So it was fitting and moving that at the start of my VP year I should be there once again.

To my astonishment there were some in the congregation who remembered my family and my baptism! It was wonderful to meet them again.

With Revs David  Collinson, Leo Osborn and Ranald Wylie who led the worship

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

My Church

Here's my church, Dialstone Lane Methodist Church in Stockport, and here's us at the end of our very energetic 3-day holiday club this week!
 And here's the new cloth we made for our Communion Table decorated with our hand prints!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Reflections from Conference 2014

A number of people have asked me for a copy of my addresses and sermon from the Methodist Conference.

This can now be downloaded from the Manchester and Stockport District website; click here and then on 'Reflections from Conference', under the heading 'Worship & Fellowship'.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Zambia visit 9th-16th July

As soon as Conference was finished, I was making preparations for a visit to Zambia, sponsored by World Church Relationships! I was privileged to meet many wonderful people and see some of the projects which are sponsored by the Methodist Church.

One of these, the mission at Kafue, near Lusaka, was originally a Primitive Methodist foundation, begun in 1919.

This is the headmaster of the boys' secondary school, showing me around with Bunmi Olayisade, from WCR.

The mission also operates a health centre. As a hospital pharmacist, I couldn't resist checking that their drugs trolley was in order. (It was)
Sadly though, the mission struggles to find the money for enough drugs and equipment to treat the many cases of TB, AIDS and malaria they are faced with.

Finally, we met the members of the women's self-help project. These women, all widows, raise pigs and chickens to sell. The small profit they have made in this way has enabled them to buy seeds and tools to grow maize. An amazing, courageous, joyful  group of women. I was humbled to meet them.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Prayers and Reflections from Conference

Many, many thanks for all the messages of love and support given to me both by those attending Conference and those who sent cards or e-mails. being Vice President really is a great privilege!

For those who were kind enough to ask for copies of my reflections delivered at various Conference worship events, I am putting them together with the prayers and thoughts written by other members of the Manchester and Stockport District, which were given to me at my induction and they will all be available here soon! Watch this space!

Friday, 27 June 2014

The bright succession

Thank you for this year, for your prayers and for all that many of you have shared with me. It has been a privilege to serve as President.

Tomorrow afternoon Revd Ken Howcroft will be inducted as President for 2014-2015 and Gill Dascombe will be inducted as Vice-President.

And so the bright succession runs.

Please pray for Ken and Gill.

God bless.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Marsett - Bicentenary thanksgiving and the nettle and the donkey

Outside Marsett chapel - just look at that view!
On a beautiful sunny Sunday (June 22nd) I drove through the stunningly beautiful Yorkshire dales to Marsett, a hamlet near Hawes. We were celebrating the bicentenary of the Methodist Church, or to be accurate of the existence of Methodist Chapels - Methodists were there earlier.
View out of the chapel door
 We were also celebrating the completion of their development scheme which had been to provide a water supply to the building, convert the porta loo to a properly equipped toilet and to provide ramp access to the chapel. This was a big challenge for the small congregation (membership below 10) made no easier by being in a National Park.

They were commited because on of the young people who attends every week is in a wheel-chair and it was becoming impossible and unsafe to carry him up the steps into church. But they have a bigger vision as well of being a place of hospitality in this beautiful place. I am told that, though the church is small they have the youngest age profile in the upper dale. The photographs will not reflect this as I cannot show pictures of children!

A packed chapel

Barbara and Stan
The chapel was full and overflowing for the service, some were sitting in the gazebo outside hearing the service through loud-speakers. The Young Singers took part in the worship under the direction of Barbara, a Methodist from nearby Gale. When Barbara took early retirement from her teaching job the children were keen to carry on singing with her and so the Young Singers began. At first, the group was small enough to meet in Barbara's home but now they are far too many for that. They sang magnificently, accompanied by Stan.

After the service there was abundant food served - true dales hospitality - and the weather was good so we could eat outside.
Tea in the gazebo
 This was my last preaching appointment as President and it was good to be in this beautiful part of the Darlington District where the numbers are not high but they are sustained and they have vision and hope for the future.

And the nettle and the donkey?
Marsett is the only place in the country where caraway grows wild. The story is told that this is because of a mischievous Marsett boy who put a nettle under the tail of the pedlar's donkey. The donkey reacted as you would expect and the caraway seeds were spread all over the green.
The caraway certainly grows here and is used by the villagers.

Keith and Mary, Keith is a Church Steward
Elaine and Tom who brought water to the chapel in a milk churn before the mains supply was connected. Tom is the treasurer and Elaine has played organ here for 50 years.
Jane with family and friends
Queueing for tea after the service
Jane with Rev Janet Park, after Janet was stationed here they discovered they had been at the same junior school (for just one year).

The Tour de France is coming to the Dales - yellow bikes everywhere

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Celebrating the 40th anniverary of the ordination of women

What a great day it was!
The sun was shining as people arrived at Wesley's Chapel for the service of celebration marking the 40th anniversary of the ordination of women to the presbyterate in the Methodist Church. Its a bit of a mouthful but it is important to be accurate. Presbyters are Ministers and so are deacons but this anniversary is one for presbyters.

It was in Bristol in the Conference of 1974 that the first 17 women were ordained as presbyters. Three of them were with us for the celebration and they presented a bible to the Methodist Conference that will be used in our worship.
Receiving the Bible from Revs Jennifer Lunn, Marjorie Hopp and Elizabeth Hodgkiss

Others who had been ordained that year but were not able to be present sent their greetings. Among them was Rev Irene Morrow who is now living in Ireland, she sent her greetings to us along with her bible.
Greetings were brought from:
The World Methodist Council - Gillian Kingston,Vice-President
The United Methodist Church - Bishop Mary Ann Swenson
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) - Christine Elliot
The Church of England - Revd Canon Jeremy Worthen
Women and the Church (WATCH) - Rev Emma Percy

I had the great privilege of presiding and preaching and should you wish to read my sermon (or a close approximation to it) you can find it here

Rev Michaela Youngson, who had prepared the liturgy also wrote a hymn for this occasion. The music was written by Rev Nicola Morrison and we were led by a small choir as we sang it together. the words of the chorus are:
We are worthy by your Spirit
we are worthy, by your Son,
to proclaim your gospel story,
of a world in Christ made one.
By the grace of God - we are worthy!
Rev. Siperire Mugadzaweta from the Swansea Circuit wth her husband. They travelled to London for the service.