Thursday, 13 February 2014

Going for growth in Cumbria

On Saturday February 8th I drove across the Pennines from Darlington to Penrith. It is always a beautiful journey, even when it is raining and cloudy. On Saturday it was sunny most of the way which was a bonus.

I was going to Penrith Methodist Church where there was a District day on the theme of going for growth. The three sessions were led by Graham Horsley and were challenging and full of ideas and information. We were encouraged to talk to one another and to respond to the input given by Graham.

 I led the worship at the beginning and end of the day together with the worship band who had come from Barrow. They were a newly formed group and were brilliant.
273 people came from across the District and it was good to meet so many and to see that they were enthusiastic to come and spend the day together as they do every year.

Sunday morning began with an interview on radio Cumbria at 8.00. After a quick breakfast Richard (The Chair of District) took me back to Penrith Methodist Church to preside and preach at the 9.00 commuion service. After a short break and a cup of coffee I was then preaching in the10.45 service, a well attended contemporary style of worship.

Lunch was in MHA Woodlands in Penrith where I met again some of those who had been at worship in the morning. I was also able to visit Doris Brown, a minister's widow who is resident there. It was a real joy to meet her and talk with her.

We then drove to Grange over Sands and to Westerley, which is the LWPT (Leaders of Worship and Preachers Trust) home. Among the residents was a Local Preacher who featured in a recent edition of the Methodist Recorder having been awarded a degree at the age of 98. He is now studying for another degree and thoroughly enjoying it. I preached here before going on to Barrow after a brief call into Thornleigh, the Christian hotel next door to Westerley.

With Rev Martin Williams &Rev Richard Teal
We arrived at Trinity Church Centre in Barrow which is in the South West Cumbria United Area (Methodist and URC). I was preaching here at a United Area Service. In the congregation were two people I knew well. Rachel had candidated for the ministry from the Darlington District and trained at the Wesley Study Centre before being stationed in the Cumbria District, it was good to see her and catch up on her news.
Also in the congregation was some-one who has been very important to me. Revd Phil Rigby was the University Chaplain when I was in Hull and it was he who confirmed me and brought me into membership of the Methodist Church. The Methodist Society meetings, many of which were held in his manse and hosted by Philip and Anne, were an important part of my growth in discipleship. MethSoc was also where I met Robert and when we were married, Phil was one of the ministers and preached at our wedding (the other minister was Revd Kenneth Waights). Then, when I was ordained, Phil was the assisting minister who laid hands on me alongside the President and representative of the world church. It was an unexpected pleasure to see Phil there and it has been one of the real delights this year to meet many friends in many parts of the country.

It  was a short but full visit to Cumbria, which of course is an ecumenical county and includes within its boundaries hugely diverse communities.

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