Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Red Fridays - Me too

I met Deacon Tracey Hume, from Trinity Methodist Church, Blaydon and The Ark, Crawcrook, What an inspiration she is such a positive way to respond to Jill's speech the Spirit of God was clearly at work. I shall be promoting this venture and missed a meal last Friday.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

70th Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

At Conference, I was privileged to meet Sue Gale, seen here at the Methodist Peace Fellowship stall. She is the daughter of Kenneth Greet, a former President of Conference, who did so much to advance the cause of Peace.  

Thursday 6 August marks the 70th Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, and Sunday 9 August is the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki. JPIT has produced some resources to help churches reflect on these anniversaries.

I was talking to a visitor to Englesea Brook yesterday about the dropping of the nuclear bomb in 1945.  I was challenged to think when he said, ‘Has this single act done the most to ensure World Peace?’  While there may be some truth in this, my thoughts also turn to the paper cranes that were sent by the people of Hiroshima to New York after 9/11.  What acts can we do to stand on the side of peace not war?

This week, Steve and I signed the following statement.

'We remember with deep sorrow the hundreds of thousands of people who died in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on those two fateful days and in the months and years afterwards. Nuclear weapons are by their very nature devastating and indiscriminate. The construction and use of nuclear weapons is a deep shame and a denial of God's love for humanity and for all of creation. It is vital that our technological prowess be accompanied with a greater commitment to the values of love, respect and restraint. True wisdom should lead us to put in place a verifiable elimination of all nuclear weapons.'

I have also signed the interfaith statement on nuclear weaponsIt will be read out at the commemoration service on 6 August, at The Light, the Quakers new conference hall in Euston.  
Kenneth Greet wrote these words, which have influenced me as I seek to follow in Christ's way of peace. 

The pacifist Christian believes that obedience to Christ involves absolute dedication to the way of reconciling love exemplified in the cross of Christ. He does not reject all use of force, but the wholesale killing of men, women and children which war involves is an evil so great as to blot out any good that might be hoped for by those who believe they are defending Christian values. He argues that there is no hope for the world unless the nations renounce war, and that Christians must pioneer the movement towards that renunciation.’

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Red Fridays - Rethink Sanctions!

Tracey Hume, a Deacon at Trinity Methodist Church, Blaydon and The Ark, Crawcrook, has come up with a wonderful idea for positive action!

Tracey, who helps lead a Foodbank in her church, says ‘I am so distressed to see people having to resort to a Foodbank because they have been sanctioned. I can't sit and do nothing anymore.'
'After being at Conference and hearing Jill Barber's VP speech I decided that the quiet voice I had been hearing needed to be acted on and the t shirt campaign is what I felt prompted to do.'

The t shirt says #RethinkSanctions, and "On Fridays I wear red and miss a meal in silent solidarity with those people who will struggle to eat today because they have been unjustly sanctioned." 
Tracey says, 'The idea is I would like people to buy one of the t shirts and wear it every Friday wherever they are. I would love to see red t shirts being worn in every town and city to raise awareness of this issue and put pressure on the government to look at the system.’ 

As you can see, I am wearing mine! - what about you!!?

Follow this link to buy a t shirt. The t shirts are ethically and fairly traded as well as organic which is why they are slightly more expensive (£12).   

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Newcastle on Tyne District Visit

I was deeply blessed by sharing in the Farewell Service for Revd Leo and Charlotte Osborne in Newcastle cathedral is named after St Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors and boats. This may reflect the cathedral's position on the northern heights above the River Tyne. It was originally a parish church, built in 1091. It was built close to the line of Hadrian's Wall through Newcastle, which may have passed through the churchyard, but unfortunately the exact location of its line through the very centre of the city is currently lost. Close to the south of the cathedral is Newcastle Castle, which gave the city its name, and which was itself built on the site of the Hadrian's Wall fort of Pons Aelius. The Norman church was destroyed by fire in 1216 and the present structure was completed in 1350.

Here is Revd Martin Turner discussing with Charlotte and Leo the finer points of the service. Martin and Leo were at Wesley College together and have been chums ever since. I remember the late Revd Raymond George telling me about their antics when I went to Wesley - they were even a legend then!

As one of his final tasks as the General Secretary Revd Dr Martyn Atkins was the preacher at this service - he preached an excellent message about ministry perfect for the occasion. the verger who Martyn is talking to celebrated his birthday that day and had a cake and candles produced and we sang to him in the vestry
This was the view I had of Leo from my seat he sat before the Lords table and looked really peaceful the organ thundered out but there was also an excellent worship band for the contemporary songs.

    The Cathedral was packed and a real sense of gratitude prevailed i felt very blessed to be part of it. The Bishop Rt Revd Frank White was so kind and understanding he spoke beautifully of Loe and Charlottes ministry received bread and wine from Leo and then shared with the rest of us in distributing the elements, a great sign of our unity.

    The district Choir sang really well some of the items were quite tough to sing but they did really well the acoustics are really good in the cathedral
    What an unexpected joy to meet up again with the Revd Cynthia Hardman and her lovely husband, we were at college together and hadn't seen each other since her testimony is gloriious and we both had tears as I recalled her parents now in heaven but came to my room for tea once and her Dad had dealt in secondhand furniture and told me that a table I had picked up for £5 was Spanish Mahogany it still has a pride of place amongst our possessions and I always think of him. She is from Chesterfield originally the church with a twisted spire or as Cynth would say 'it looks like a witches hat thats been pulled though a hedge backwards!!' 

    Friday, 17 July 2015

    Domestic Abuse at the House of Lords

    Did you know that 1 in 4 women in the UK suffer domestic abuse? On 15 July, at the invitation of Lord McColl of Dulwich, I attended a reception at the House of Lords for Faith Leaders to speak out against domestic abuse in the UK. 
    Baroness Scotland, who has been a pioneer in campaigning against domestic abuse, gave a stirring address. Then we heard a moving account from a Muslim woman in Birmingham of her work with victims of honour crime, FGM and forced marriage in Birmingham.

    Restored has produced a 'Charter for Churches', with 10 recommendations. It stresses that domestic abuse is not only physical, but can also be spiritual, emotional, sexual, psychological, social or financial. It is characterised by a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour.      ‘Ending Domestic Abuse: A Pack for Churches' aims to raise awareness and enable the Church to address domestic abuse issues both within its own community and wider society.

    ‘Faith and Domestic Abuse: Recommendations for Faith Leaders’, launched on 15 July by Faith Action, contains some really helpful resources and case studies. I came away from this event feeling passionately that this is an issue we need to engage with. You can find out more, and download the resources at www.restoredrelationships.org and www.faithaction.net.

    I was very impressed with working alongside the folk at Meon Valley Circuit
    Some people wanted to visibly show that they wanted to take seriously over 60 people came for an anointing and I have been praying for them. Sometimes it really helps us to be public in making a stand for Christ and how we intend to move forward

    Monday, 13 July 2015

    Access to Archives

    Today I was at Westminster Central Hall for a meeting of the Archives and Records Advisory Group. It works hard behind the scenes to ensure that the life of our Connexion, visible through its records, is properly preserved and fully accessible.  

    It is a much bigger, and more demanding task than you can imagine! 

    Many thanks to all, including (seen here from left to right) Peter Nockles, John Rylands Library; David Hart, Chair of ARAG; Philip Thornborow, Archive Liaison Officer;  and Jo Hibbard, Connexional Heritage Officer.  

    Spreading the word

    The sun shone for the Wesley Historical Society’s annual lecture and AGM at Englesea Brook, which included a tour by the VP! 

    Popular stories from the graveyard included James Clifton, the only farm labourer to have a memorial.  After his conversion in Sarah Smith’s cottage in 1811, he exclaimed ‘even the trees look different.’  
    A packed crowd (with apologies to those who roasted in the gallery!) listened eagerly to Revd Stephen Hatcher’s lecture, ‘The Prims in Print’.  I had a shiver down my spine as it was delivered just a few metres from the original printing press on which all the PM publications from 1821-42 were printed.  
    The Gospel Car, at Englesea Brook for the summer season, was a reminder of the open air missions, another means of spreading the word.  

    Saturday, 11 July 2015

    Meon Valley Circuit - Southampton District
    This was my first official visit and an excellent start - they took up my challenge and organised a hog roast and Barn dance inviting many people from outside the church family.
    It was a great evening and I gave a 'God slot' in the middle everyone listened attentively. I had some excellent conversations afterwards - prevenient grace was in evidence. One lady from Halifax was related to the former Bursar at Cliff College when I was a student Mr Jack Henderson. in one conversation someone said to me 'I think the President is coming tonight' .... now theres a thing!!

    Friday, 10 July 2015

    This is a picture of me with Mrs Phoebe Dawson of Ashton on Ribble Preston, she was my first ever secretary and although I drove here crazy in so many ways she taught me so much. I've always known that if I confided in her it went no further. She has a deep honest faith influenced by Revd Leslie Wheatherhead and is gifted in prayers for healing. As a highly intellegent woman she had to fight career wise in a mans world in the late 1960s she started 'Age Concern Preston' against all odds
    Five years ago she suffered a serious stroke just after her 90th Birthday now in the Nursing Home young girls - carers come and talk to her and she prays for them. It was such a delight that she made the huge effort to come over to Southport to see me inducted - she has always encouraged me and beleived in me. Her latest project is to have 'Prayers for the Sick' in the Nursing Home - 'Well what better place to offer healing grace than here'.
    I thank God for women like her and the inspiration she brings

    Connected across the Connexion

    As the sun went down on Conference in Southport last week, I stood in the middle of the beach labyrinth and thanked God who is at the centre of all our connectedness. I had a powerful sense of being part of a Connexion across time and space. At Conference I met so many wonderful people, including Bishop Hannah from the Gambia, who blessed us all with her message of encouragement, the gracious and humble Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, and Dave from Buckland Brewer, who sat behind me at Conference last year! 

    One of the joyous tasks Steve and I had to do during Conference was sign letters of greetings to people, including some who had been in ministry for over 60 years! What I had not expected was the humbling and amazing response from some who, although physically unable to attend Conference, were fully participating, ‘glued to the laptop following the addresses and speeches and arguments.’

    I learnt that ‘live streamers’ are of all ages, not just the young, and had clearly underestimated the ability and enthusiasm of older people, including those in their 80s and 90s, to join the ‘online community’. I rejoice to be part of a Connexion that is more truly ‘connected’ than I could ever have imagined. It is part of our great Methodist heritage (even the 18th century spelling!), and now I have got to discover how to be a blogger!

    Tuesday, 7 July 2015

    A year of Grace - the adventure begins!

    This is the opening of the Conference - a moment that I have the great privilege of offering to the Methodist church what is on my heart this is the link to the full address http://video.silverstream.tv/view/t8mB5lgz