Friday, 24 October 2014

Beds, Essex and Herts 18th-20th October

North Weald minister Jason Askew, self and Chair of District Anne Brown

The President and I visited Beds, Essex and Herts on a weekend visit. We were part of a District wide Local Preacher/Worship Leader study day on the Saturday which was challengingly entitled 'Cutting Edge Worship'! The president led workshops on new ways of praying, and mine was on preaching to 21st century congregations.
 My thanks to all who engaged with this subject and provided such stimulating discussions!

I was privileged to preach at the re-dedication of North Weald Methodist Church after some extensive refurbishment. The church has been transformed and is ready 'to serve the present age' in their village.

Gloucestershire circuit

October 10-11 saw me visiting the Gloucestershire circuit, where some local preachers and I shared in a Quiet Day. We were in the lovely little chapel at May Hill, deep in the Gloucestershire countryside and surrounded by stunning views. We were delighted when a reporter arrived to do a report on our small gathering for the local newspaper!
On the Sunday, members of the newly refurbished Cinderford Methodist Church and I shared in the leading of worship. One exciting part was the prayer table, which gave us images and ideas to create our own intercessions.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Liberal Democrat Conference

This was my second party conference, and this time I had the opportunity to interview my own MP Sir Andrew Stunell, Liberal Democrat MP for Hazel Grove. Sir Andrew attends a local Methodist church when in the constituency. Here he is with the representatives from the United Reformed, and Baptist churches, the Quakers and the Salvation Army. And me!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Hazel Grove

Hazel Grove Methodist Church was built in the 1970's, but stands on the site of an earlier church dating from the 1820's - on the corner of Wesley Street and Chapel Street, which seems appropriate! The Sunday School building was opened in 1914 next to the original chapel and this year celebrates its centenary.

At the final celebrations, which coincided with the Harvest Festival, it was great to meet Rev Juliet Wriglesworth, who spent her childhood in Hazel Grove and was a member of its Sunday School. She is now serving in the Newcastle upon Tyne (West) circuit.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Labour Party Conference 21-24 September

Earlier this week, I joined a group from the United Reformed Church, the Baptist Church, the Quakers and the Salvation Army who were visiting the Labour Party Conference in Manchester.

On the first evening, we had a thorough briefing about the conference, and the MPs who had agreed to meet us the following day. We learned about their backgrounds and priorities and agreed on the kind of things we would ask them.

The next morning was an intensive round of interviews. We assume that MPs would not be interested in what the churches have to say, but in fact there are many who welcome the opportunity to speak to us. I was frequently impressed with the values and idealism that lay behind their engagement in politics.
When listening to Ed Miliband's speech, I welcomed his pledge to increase investment in the National Health Service, and to develop its scope. I will be interested to hear what the other main parties propose.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Visit to Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District

Saturday 13th September was the Synod of Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District, held at Codsall Methodist Church. We spent an informative, honest and inspiring day together considering mental health and mental illness. I introduced the subject, and then we went into workshops on mental health first aid, exploding the myths, pastoral care and mental health, theology and mental health, dementia care, and building emotional resistance. This is a subject close to my heart and I appreciated the opportunity of being part of such a fruitful day.

On Sunday I was preaching at Ludlow, an historic town with a thriving and active Methodist church.

Ludlow was the home to Sarah Gwynne, wife to Charles Wesley, in a house opposite the church.

13-14th September was the annual Ludlow Food Fair, and the Methodist church were doing their bit by offering pudding tastings! Mmm!

Thanksgiving for the life of Rev Dr Kenneth Greet

On 6th September it was a great privilege to be part of this special service. It felt as if I was taking part in an important part of our Methodist Heritage. The service was led by the President, and their were contributions by, amongst others, Kenneth's family, representatives of the Conference, and of the Methodist Peace Fellowship. Rev Dr Brian Beck paid a tribute to the life of Kenneth Greet and Rev Dr Colin Morris preached the sermon. A large congregation joined in celebrating this '
Prince of the Church'.