Friday, 30 May 2014

A week-end in Bolton and Rochdale District and a retreat in East Anglia

I visited the Bolton and Rochdale District on May 10th and 11th. It was a short visit but packed with interesting things.
Inside Christ Church
On Saturday I went to the District Synod. The Chair of District was on sabbatical leave so Rev Ron Hicks was in the chair. It was good to see Ron as we had served together in the West Yorkshire District. In the second part of the morning I had the opportunity to speak to the Synod and to speak with individuals in the breaks.
Synod met in Christ Church (Farnworth and Worsley Circuit) which is a Methodist/URC LEP.

Synod conferring
In the evening I met with the staff of the Wigan Circuit. I was staying with the Superintendent Minister, Rev Rachel Deigh and her husband, Rev. Sylvester Deigh and they provided a wonderful meal for us.
Sunday morning began with worship in Goose Green Methodist Church, Wigan. The church is celebrating its 150th anniversary year and I was invited to preach and talk to the children. They have taken the theme "Living Stones" for the anniversary year and before I left I wrote my name on a "Stone" to be added to this banner.

Billinge Methodist Church
 In the afternoon I attended a service of thanksgiving for 146 yearsofMethodist witness in Billinge. This was the final service in Billinge Methodist Church and it was well supported by the circuit - the church was packed. Our thanksgiving included a poem written by the oldest member, whose name happened to be Ruth. It was a poem that gave thanks to God for faithfulness through the years and ended by looking forward to the future in hope and in the confidence that God is always at our side. The sermon was preached by Rachel and it was my privilege to lead the congregation in prayers of intercession and in an act of commissioning and sending out.
With the members of Billinge and Rachel and Sylvester Deigh

The communion rail was specially designed

Next we went to Thrum Hall Methodist Church in Rochdale for the District Ordinands Testimony Service. There was just one ordinand, Helen Johnson,who the District has commended for ordination at Conference this year. It was a special occasion and special for me because Helen had candidated from the West Yorkshire District when I was a member of the District Candidates' Committee. I had the honour of preaching in a service that was truly inspirational.

Ordinand Helen Johnson
Rev Ron Hicks, Deputy Chair

After the evening service I drove home to Darlington and the next morning travelled to the District Chairs' Retreat. I spent the following 4 days in the company of good colleagues and friends being led by Professor Morna Hooker and taking time to be close to God. As always, I do not include details of the retreat which remains private but I do share some photographs of the lovely countryside around the retreat house in East Anglia.

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