Friday, 24 January 2014

Stronger together in the York and Hull District

On January 18th I arrived at York station to be met by my colleague, Revd Stephen Burgess, Chair of the York and Hull District. We went to Pocklington Methodist Church where I was joining Circuit Stewards from around the District who were spending the day together. Circuit Stewards exercise an important ministry, giving generously of their time and talents as they serve God in the Church. I was grateful for this opportunity to talk with them about a whole range of issues in the life of the church. We recognised the good things that were happening, the opportunities for mission that were being developed and we acknowledged some of the difficulties we encounter along the way. Most important of all, we prayed and worshiped together.
Later that afternoon we went to Copmanthorpe where the Methodists and Anglicans were entering into a Local Ecumenical Partnership. We processed from the Methodist Church to the Anglican Church. The worship was lively, accompanied by a large music group made up of adults and children, Anglians and Methodists. The Archdeacon preached, The Chair of District led the congregations as they committed themselves to partnership and I brought greetings from the Methodist Church and gave the blessing. This was the celebration of a long-standing relationship that has grown deeper over the years and it was significant that the prayers of intercession were led by the longest standing joint group - the contemplative prayer group.

That evening in the District Manse, we shared a meal with invited ecumenical guests and enjoyed the hospitality offered by Stephen and Barbara.

Ripon Cathedral
At 7.00 on Sunday morning I was at the radio studio for  interviews with Radio Tees and Radio York. They were especially interested in my preaching appointment that day as I was both preaching and presiding at the morning eucharist in Ripon Cathedral.

This was the Sunday in the week of Prayer for Christian Unity and it was a great privilege to be invited to be in Ripon Cathedral, not least because part of the Darlington District where I serve is within the boundary of the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds. It was good to stand alongside my colleague, the Bishop of Knaresborough as I presided. There are photographs of this service and a report on the Diocesan website, which you can find here:

After lunch in Ripon we travelled to Pocklington again, this time for a service marking the beginning of their 150th anniversary celebrations. I was preaching at a circuit service, the church was packed and the singing raised the roof.

With Rev Sue Pegg, Rev Neville Simpson (Superintendent) and Rev Stephen Burgess (Chair of District)
With the Superintendent, Rev Neville Simpson
With Joyce Simpson

I traveled home that evening but only for a brief visit before going, on Monday to the Briery Retreat Centre in Ilkley where I was leading the retreat for those in the early years of ministry in the York and Hull District. It is so important for all Christians to take time to reflect on their journey of faith and time to be consciously in the presence of God. Regular retreats are part of my own spiritual discipline and if they are not yet part of yours, I commend them to you.

These few days were relatively close to home but soon I will be going further afield again to visit the Bedfordshire Essex and Hertfordshire District.

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