Thursday, 20 August 2015

Breaking bread with Jésus

I didn’t think it was possible to sweat so much until I went to Tarapoto!  The Methodist church only started here in the Amazon region of Peru 5 years ago, through missionaries from Brazil.  The membership is still small, but I shared in the Saturday School when 17 children poured into the small room they use as a church, as well as some mums and babies.  

In the evening, we met with some of the leaders.  New Christians with no training and little Biblical knowledge, but with hearts on fire for spreading the good news of salvation.

After sharing their hopes and dreams - we gathered around a table and shared a simple meal, literally just bread, a cup of hot water and, for me, a camomile teabag.  There was a tremendous feeling of equality, sitting round the table, talking about issues of faith and life.  There was no pretence, or status, it was very ‘real’.  We even discussed the Falklands!  For me, this was a profoundly moving experience of what it must have been like to be part of the early church.  

Next to me was Jésus and his wife Rosa. Then there was Luis, a dentist, who had just operated on an HIV patient that no one else would treat.

Another Rosa was on my other side, with her big laugh, and great sense of humour, even if I couldn’t understand what she was saying.  At the other end was Victor, the pastor, and his lovely wife Angela, who are expecting a baby in four months. Their commitment to growing the church in this very poor area, among people who are mainly migrants with no regular income, and the way I witnessed them empowering women to speak, was heart-warming and humbling. 
Here is Pastor Victor with his motor bike, outside the church which is also his home - please pray for Victor and Angela, and the wonderful disciples of Christ I met in Tarapoto.


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Finding a Welcome in Peru

After being in transit for 28 hours, I have finally arrived home from Peru! What an experience! What have I learnt?  Riding in a moto-taxi in Tarapoto is great fun! The traffic in Lima is completely mad, unbelievable and no holds are barred! Chichi morada, purple corn, is a lovely drink.  Peruvian people are warm and friendly and we can share a sense of humour if not a language. Oh, and you can't put toilet paper in the toilet!

The church has so many needs but a great vision. 

Here is Bishop Samuel Aguilar outside Casa Metodista, with Luis Ruiz, the co-ordinator of Volunteers in Mission, one of the NMAs we support. 

Casa Metodista (on the right below) is a listed building, dating from the 1920s, which the church is hoping to restore and develop, with an ‘Open door’ policy.

Located in a cultural area of Lima, this would help raise awareness of the Methodist church, as well as generating income. With 70 bedrooms it could also provide residential accommodation for students coming to study at a much needed Wesley Theological College.  The dream is also to provide a meeting place for the many migrants who leave their families to come to Lima. At the moment they meet in parks so the church wants Casa Metodista to be a place of welcome for them.

I have learnt so much, and it will take a while to process it all.  Right now, I need some sleep !!!!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Camp Meeting and Love Feast at The Cloud

Felt very close to God today, standing in a field, speaking of God's love, and feeling the wind in my hair. 

A very moving Camp Meeting and Love Feast to celebrate the 200th anniversary of The Cloud Methodist Chapel and Sunday School, on the Cheshire/ Staffordshire ridge.

Built in 1815 by the Primitive Methodists, it is the earliest still in continuous use.

Four preaching stations, group prayers, singing and sharing testimony created an amazing sense of fellowship. 

Friends of Harmony sang a moving song by Katherine, 'God Friends Family', expressing her experience of God at work in her life when her daughter was seriously ill. Sunday School mums and children sang, and everyone joined in.

And God enjoyed it too!

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!!'