Thursday, 19 June 2014

Inverness and pioneers from Wesley to today

After the Cliff Festival I moved into a week of meetings including a morning spent with a delegation from Pakistan. We heard about the realities of life for Christians in Pakistan, they shared concerns with us and helped us to reflect on the ways in which we respond to these issues and read and write about them. I cannot show photographs of this meeting or report in any detail but it was a morning that challenged and enriched me. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have shared in this. You can read a report of the meeting here

On Saturday May 31st I travelled to Leeds to meet with members of Outcome. I presided and preached at the communion service and then listened to and shared with my sisters and brothers in Christ.

On the following Tuesday I travelled north to Inverness where the Methodist Church is celebrating the 250th anniversary of John Wesley's first visit. When Mr Wesley arrived Methodism was already established having been brought first by military men and then by the first Methodist preacher to cross the border into Scotland, Christopher Hopper. Christopher Hopper came from County Durham, so I felt as if I was treading in his foot-steps, though my journey on the train was considerably easier than his. It was Christopher Hopper who brought John Wesley to Inverness and on the day they arrived it was pouring with rain. The storm was so heavy that they thought the meeting planned for the afternoon would be cancelled. They went to worship in the Old High Kirk and the minister gave them  lunch and then invited Mr Wesley to preach in the kirk, which he did both that day and the next. It is worth reading the whole story and you can do so here

Dave Saunders
On Tuesday afternoon I met one of our pioneers, Dave Saunders at Breathe. Breathe is a meeting and gathering place, set in the heart of the community. The building was once used by those who were drinking and taking drugs and then it burned down. It was given to Dave and he rebuilt it with help from others in the community who saw that something was happening and came to join in. Now it is a welcoming place for various people and Dave speaks of those who have met with Christ there and helped him to do so too.

The garden at Breathe
It is a special place but it is not the physical building that makes it special it is the relationships that have developed there enabling people to discover more about themselves and God as they garden, talk, carve wood or drink coffee. This is mission in the community and of the community. Breathe is definitely embedded in this community but is also different from it; definitely incarnational.
 In the evening the Proctor hosted a civic reception and dinner for the Methodist Church. It was a great occasion in the Town House, an historic building in which the first Cabinet Meeting outside of London was held. Speeches were made and John Wesley's visit to Inverness was celebrated by the civic authorities who have always been supportive partners of the Methodist people.
The proctor greeting his guests
On Wednesday I went to the coffee morning in the church and here met Christine and Menzies. Menzies is an active member of the church at 103 years of age, what an interesting conversation we had!
Christine and Menzies
Visitors from Florida
I was taken to lunch by Loch Ness and as we arrived a Hercules aircraft flew past and dipped its wing. My hosts told me they hadn't arranged it specially!

Old High Kirk
In the evening we gathered for worship in the Old High Kirk where John Wesley had preached 250 years ago. It was a real celebration both of Methodism and of the good links with of the Church of Scotland which continue to this day. I preached from the pulpit in the Old High Kirk to a congregation of Methodists and ecumenical friends including two visitors from Florida who happened to see that there was a service taking place and came along to join us.

After preaching in Inverness, Mr Wesley said, 'Were it only for this day, I should not have regretted riding an hundred miles', words which are written on the stained glass window in the Methodist Church.
Finally here is a great picture of the Youth President, Tamara. She was talking to one of the members of the delegation from Pakistan.

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