Friday, 30 November 2007


International recognition for church-based programmes caring for people with HIV and Aids came this week. In the US, Senator Hilary Clinton and other presidential contenders joined a thousand Christians for a Global Summit on AIDS, held by the church of author and pastor Rick Warren. Warren, Author of The Purpose-Driven Church, and his wife Kay called this third summit as part of a plan to mobilise a billion Christians in humanitarian action and to deliver Aids care through local churches. In the UK, the Archbishop of Canterbury pays tribute to church-run local programmes in his message for World Aids Day (Saturday). Dr Williams challenges governments to work effectively with faith-based organisations, but admits that churches themselves have not always treated HIV positive people with the ‘dignity, liberty and freedom’ they deserve. In Uganda last week, the Queen made her first ever visit to a specialist AIDS centre set up by the UK-based Christian charity Mildmay.

Sources: Christian Today (30/11) ; Methodist Recorder (29/11)

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Free-of-charge Audio Production for Churches and Schools

May I draw your attention to 'Advent 24′ - a series of 24 short dramatic spots charting the story of Advent in the style of the hit American TV series ‘24′.

Each episode is 30 seconds long and can be downloaded free of charge from Audiopot - the UK’s online library of creative Christian audio - at

For further information on this series that gives a growing feeling that something big is about to happen, please go to I am indebted to Tony for this information.


Consumers should boycott chocolate that isn’t fairly traded to help end child labour, the Archbishop of York has said. Speaking to church and community leaders in Hull to mark the work of abolitionist William Wilberforce, Dr John Sentamu cited research connecting child labour with cocoa production. According to the Stop the Traffik campaign, 12,000 trafficked children work on Ivory Coast plantations to farm 43 per cent of the world’s cocoa beans. Stop the Traffik claims that manufacturers who don’t subscriber to Fair Trade practices cannot guarantee that their chocolate is produced without child labour. The irony, The Times points out, is that most of Britain’s original chocolate makers were Quakers, who spearheaded the campaign to end slavery.

Source: The Times (31/10)

Friday, 23 November 2007

Methodist Relief and Development Conference in Africa

MRDF conference celebrates going from strength to strength in Africa

The Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) is holding its first conference for African partner organisations from 22-26 November 2007. The conference, entitled Strength to Strength, will be held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Representatives from 29 local partner organisations based in 11 African countries will be taking part.

There will be a packed schedule of workshops on issues such as HIV/AIDS, advocacy, sustainable agriculture and financial planning, but most importantly there will also be opportunities for delegates to share their own stories, advice and experiences with one another. Those closer to home can find out the latest news from the Strength to Strength daily blog, available at .

Francis Njuakom is travelling from Cameroon to attend the conference. He is the director of an MRDF partner organisation that runs social and income-generating clubs for poor and isolated elderly people. He says: “It will be such a lovely and enriching experience to have MRDF's most trusted partners across Africa to come together and share the magic of differences that we are all using in our various organisations to transform lives and communities.”

Margaret Nakato is the co-ordinator of a women’s development project in rural Uganda. She explains why she feels that this conference is so important: “I believe when there is face to face interaction, people relax and get to know each other better. In the process they share a lot of information about themselves and the work they are doing. Some of this will be unique and provide new insights. I am looking forward to hearing those stories that are difficult or are not normally put in writing.”

MRDF Director Kirsty Smith, says: “At MRDF, we are very excited about this opportunity for our partners to get together and share their knowledge and experience. Good financial management or strategic planning may not sound very glamorous, compared to buying goats or sinking wells, but only well run, financially sound organisations can improve the lives of poor communities in the long term. Training events, like this conference, help ensure that money from our supporters is well managed and that programmes are delivered by well equipped and trained staff. By sharing skills and resources, we can all become stronger.”

Source: 19/11/'07

Monday, 19 November 2007


Tearfund believes that a survey on prayer commissioned by the Christian aid charity ‘flies in the face of the view that faith is increasingly irrelevant in today's secular society’. According to Chief Executive, Matthew Frost, the poll 'demonstrates the prevalence and potential of prayer'. While only about one in five adults goes to church at least once a year, twice as many pray. Of the twenty million who say they pray, just under half of them do so every day. Some 68 per cent pray for family and friends, 41 per cent give thanks to God and 25 per cent intercede over world issues. The highest percentage of praying Britons was found in the capital, with roughly three in four adult Londoners praying and one in five attending church at least once a month.

Source: The Observer (11/11)

Monday, 12 November 2007

Methodist Church launches Mexico flood appeal

The Methodist Church has launched an emergency appeal for funds following the devastating floods that have swept through South Mexico in the wake of the heaviest rains to hit the country for 40 years.

The Church’s Fund for World Mission has already pledged a solidarity grant of £7,500 towards the appeal and charity Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) has offered £5,000 to assist relief work.

The extent of the flooding is massive with the states of Tabasco and Veracruz particularly affected. At least 500,000 people have been made homeless and are facing the destruction of their crops and outbreaks of disease.

Revd Thomas Quenet, World Church Officer for Americas and the Caribbean, says; ‘The full extent of this tragedy is yet to be seen, but we do know that thousands of people will be faced with rebuilding their lives from scratch. We are encouraging people to offer whatever support they can, not only with their pockets, but also with their prayers.’

Those wishing to support the appeal can send cheques, made payable to The Methodist Church Fund to World Mission, to Mexico Flood Appeal, World Church Relationships Office, Methodist Church House, 25 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5JR.

People can also give securely online at This is part of the Church’s new easy-to-use online giving facility through UK tax payers can even GiftAid their donations, offering the appeal an extra 28% of their donation at no extra cost to them.

Source: 9/11/07

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Remembrance Day Hymn

At our Remembrance Day service today we sang a hymn that is not in our hymn book and I have never sung it before, though we all thought it was very appropriate for tday -

O valiant hearts who to your glory came
through dust of conflict and through battle flame;
tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved,
your memory hallowed in the land you loved.

Proudly you gathered, rank on rank, to war
as who had heard God's message from afar;
all you had hoped for, all you had, you gave,
to save mankind — yourselves you scorned to save.

Splendid you passed, the great surrender made;
into the light that nevermore shall fade;
deep your contentment in that blest abode,
who wait the last clear trumpet-call of God.

Long years ago, as earth lay dark and still,
rose a loud cry upon a lonely hill,
while in the frailty of our human clay,
Christ, our Redeemer, passed the self-same way.

Still stands his Cross from that dread hour to this,
like some bright star above the dark abyss;
still, through the veil, the Victor's pitying eyes
look down to bless our lesser Calvaries.

These were his servants, in his steps they trod,
following through death the martyred Son of God:
Victor, he rose; victorious too shall rise
they who have drunk his cup of sacrifice.

O risen Lord, O Shepherd of our dead,
whose cross has bought them and whose staff has led,
in glorious hope their proud and sorrowing land
commits her children to thy gracious hand.

Gustav Holst

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Methodist Response to Queens speech

Anthea Cox, Coordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice, says;

"The Government wants to make education, housing and health care the centre of its work over the new Parliamentary session. Methodists care passionately about these issues and welcome the opportunity for debate.

The Methodist Church welcomes the introduction of the Climate Change Bill. Earlier this year we responded to this bill in its draft form. As a nation the UK must achieve real year-on-year cuts in carbon emissions. The urgency for action is underlined by a report published by the UN today stating that carbon emissions from industrialized countries are at a record high. We argue that long-term targets should be revised in the light of the findings published this year by the International Panel on Climate Change. In addition we must not use the purchasing of carbon credits overseas to buy out our own responsibility at home.

The Human Tissues and Embryos Bill will prompt further debate on abortion and the ethical and moral issues around early human life. The Methodist Church will seek to listen, learn and speak with great care on this sensitive issue.

We take a keen interest in the proposals to combat terrorism. The Methodist Church previously opposed extending the time for which people can be held before trial to 90 days but we recognise the need to consider how a balance can be achieved between providing adequate powers to address terrorism and ensuring the right to liberty and justice for all."

Source: 6/11/07

I don't agree with the proposal to make it compulsory for young people to stay on at school or in training until the age of 18, although I fully understand the reasons behind it and am always encouraging those who left school early without much in the way of qualifications to take every opportunity to study to get those qualifications later in their lives. Anything that is compulsory tends to evoke rebellion in many teenagers, whereas I have known several who thought school was a waste of time until they found a job. Then they realised the point of it all and are quite happy to do that same study now because they can see how much it will help their work.

The opposition, who say that the Government is tackling the problem in the wrong way because we should, rather, be dealing with the cause of unqualified school leavers, has a very good point. However, it is far from easy to find a way to prevent the perfectly natural rebellion against compulsory education which happens even now and will surely increase if this legislation goes through.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

'The Bent Bow'

Since being introduced to the Desert Fathers and Mothers on the course 'The Heart of the Divine' at Sarum College, Salisbury, I have been reading a little about their sayings. Here is an example:-

Once Abbot Antony was conversing with some brethren, and a hunter who was after game in the wilderness came upon them. He saw Abbot Antony and the brothers enjoying themselves, and disapproved. Abbot Antony said, 'Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it.' This he did.

'Now shoot another,' said the Elder. 'And another, and another.' Then the hunter said, 'If I bend my bow all the time it will break.'

Abbot Antony replied, 'So it is also in the work of God. If we push ourselves beyond measure, the brethren will soon collapse. It is right, therefore, from time to time to relax.'

Friday, 2 November 2007

Croeso i Gymru! The Methodist Youth Conference is coming to Cardiff

For three days in November, Cardiff will become the focal point for Methodist young people all over Great Britain to meet. The reason? Cardiff will be hosting the annual Methodist Youth Conference from 16-18 November 2007 in the new Urdd Centre in Cardiff Bay.

The Methodist Youth Conference is an annual conference that gives an opportunity for young people aged 13-25 from all over Britain to meet and discuss important issues they are interested in and how they relate to the Church. It is aimed at young people who are connected or wish to be connected with the Methodist Church.

Many young Methodists across Great Britain benefit from this annual meeting as not all are fortunate enough to have the chance to mix with many people their own age in their local church. ‘This is a great opportunity for the young people,’ says Reverend Susan McIvor from the Cardiff Circuit, who is one of the organisers of the conference. ‘They have chance to meet lots of other Methodist young people, talk about their concerns and draw the whole church’s attention to these issues.’

Each year the conference has a specific theme, and this year the young people have chosen to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the UK and the freedom Christians find in their faith today.

The conference is held in a different location in Britain every year and this time it is being held in the Urdd sleepover centre in Cardiff Bay. Katie Demery, 16 from Cardiff said, ‘We think that the young people will love Cardiff Bay with its Doctor Who and Welsh Assembly connections. We also have lots of great activities planned for them. In fact, we’re a bit concerned that it will be so good they might not want to leave at the end of the weekend!’

The event has been organised through a planning committee involving young people from around the Cardiff Circuit area aged 13-25, offering the opportunity for all the young people involved not only to work as part of a team, but also to develop planning and social skills.

A hi-res image accompanying this story is available at

Thursday, 1 November 2007

'Keepin' It Real'

'Keepin' It Real' aims to help children through the challenges of modern life. It is a resource book for children and youth leaders and aims to help 9 to 13-year-olds focus on the issues of respect, reputation and conflict.

'Keepin’ It Real' is produced by the Methodist Church and ecumenical children’s charity CURBS. It is aimed for use with 9 to 13-year-olds and addresses four main topics: communication, reputation, conflict and negotiation as they affect young people today.

Keepin’ It Real comes at a time when the Government is asking schools to help teach children good manners and behaviour, and also to help them deal with anxiety, anger and conflicts.

Penny Fuller from MethodistChildren says “there are lots of resources to help young people deal with topics like sexuality and drugs, but not to help with less tangible things like reputation. Yet we frequently hear that some teenagers are carrying weapons either for self-protection or ‘Street Cred’, and we see in the news the terrible consequences this can have. 'Keepin’ It Real' aims to help young people deal with these situations in very practical ways.”

Charity CURBS specialises in working with children in urban situations, and its experience enriches the practical wisdom offered by 'Keepin’ It Real'. But, says Penny, it does not only apply to inner cities. “Children and teenagers everywhere are under tremendous pressure. 'Keepin’ It Real' will help equip them to deal with difficult situations. Everyone gains when young people can find their way through life.”

Source: 25/10