Last night, before speaking at the London Synod today, I went with friends to the Peacock Theatre in London to see the production by Phoenix Dance Company of "Windrush - movement of the people". I am very unversed in modern dance, so found the performances in the first half of the evening- "Calyx" and "Shadows" - intriguing but rather mystifying.
The energy and passion of the dancers and the injustice and power of the story came over forcibly and the audience received it enthusiastically. If you have the opportunity do try to see it. More information here.
The Methodist Church in Britain owes a huge amount to the "Windrush generation" who, despite often receiving treatment in churches which was at best ungracious, and at worst, racist, have nevertheless shown courage and grace in sticking with Methodism and have, in many places, transformed and revitalized church life and worship. That message was clearly reinforced for me today at Synod.
JPIT are publicising the news that the House of Commons will be debating Windrush on Monday afternoon and are sharing advice on asking MPs to attend. Visit www.jcwi.org.uk for more information.
Memories of the loving, generous, hospitable way in which Andrew, Timothy, Peter and I were received when we landed as Mission Partners in the Caribbean in 1994 make me doubly ashamed of our current national behaviour.
Friday, 13 April 2018
The keynote presentation was given by Rev. Michaela Youngson who shared the lessons and insights into life which she had gained when walking the Camino in Spain with her daughter; "Sacred wells", "Holy detours", "Arid places", "Letting go".... and much much more. Micky was inspiring, deep and amusing all at once - we look forward to her forthcoming pilgrimage as President of the Conference.
Other opportunities for prayer and reflection were offered in various ways, including the mega-labyrinth brought along by Fiona Fidgin for Saturday afternoon.
Saturday evening was given over to "Pilgrimage on a wider map" in which Rev. Dr. Stephen Skuce conversed on stage with a number of people who have journeyed to life in Britain from various parts of the world - Barbados, Hong Kong, Cameroon and Benin. Their reasons for coming - and their treatment on arrival - varied hugely and we were humbled to learn from Pride of his long journey (pilgrimage?) to being granted refugee status. All participants were gracious - if only the same could be said of all our churches and of our Home Office!
At four points throughout the weekend Rev. Graham Sparkes, a Baptist minister and President of Luther King House, reflected back to us what he was hearing and what he felt was emerging of a theology and understanding of pilgrimage. His reflections were wise and perceptive and will be made available in due course on the pilgrimage pages of the Methodist Church website.
All this talking, listening, discussing and thinking was enriched and surrounded by the wonderful creativity of Ruth Sprague. Her series of weaves on a pilgrimage theme literally encircled us in the meeting room and the prayerful work which had gone into both the weaves and the booklets accompanying them seeped into all our conferring in a mystical way. Ruth had also brought along her loom and invited pilgrims to spend a few minutes weaving with her over the weekend - a wonderfully rhythmic, soothing activity. The result was a fabulous textile which expresses so much of the variety and togetherness of the time.
For those with energy and a passion to do pilgrimage outdoors, several options were on offer - some chose to stop off at Tissington en route and share in the Tissington Village Pilgrimage, devised and led by Peak Park Rural Officer, Deacon Lorraine Brown. Lorraine also led a group of 18 on the final section of the Peak Pilgrimage on Saturday afternoon. A prayer walk around the Cliff College grounds was one of many workshop choices.
So much more could be said - and I hope it will be in all sorts of locations and events, as some of the richness of the pilgrim ethos is shared with the wider Connexion. Look out for further reflections and report in the Methodist Recorder and elsewhere and many more photos can be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/92902340@N00/albums/72157689622947590
Meanwhile, my heartfelt thanks to DMLN for wonderful support in putting on this event - especially Dr. Tony Moodie - and to the brilliant planning group of Sarah, Lynne, Simon, John, Marlene and Tony who all worked so hard. Blessings for the journey, Jill