Sunday, 28 December 2008

Methodist Church calls for international pressure to bring an end to Gaza conflict

In light of the escalating conflict in Gaza over the last 24 hours, the Methodist Church is calling for international pressure on both Israel and Hamas to bring an end to the violence.

Steve Hucklesby, Public Issues Policy Advisor, said; "The devastating death toll resulting from Israeli air strikes has shocked many. Rather than improving security, this action by Israel could compound conflict in the region. It is also likely to make it more difficult to bring regional powers together in a search for solutions. Both Hamas and Israel must respond to the UN Security Council call for an immediate end to all military operations.

"We call on the EU, United States and the UN to bring increased pressure on Israel and on Hamas to refrain from violence. At this time of year when the focus of Christians around the world is on the Holy Land we pray for courageous leadership in the cause of peace.

“Before the recent outbreaks of violence, Gaza was already suffering a dire humanitarian situation has not been helped by Israel’s blockade and restrictions on relief supplies. Now food, fuel and medical supplies are needed urgently.”

Source: Methodist News Service 28/12/2008

Christmas Message from the Methodist President

In his Christmas Message, the Revd Stephen Poxon, President of the Methodist Conference, calls for Christmas to be a time of hospitality towards strangers. Stephen highlights the work of local churches amongst asylum seekers and refugees and asks us to consider how welcome we make others feel.

Stephen says; ‘This must be at the heart of who we are as church communities. We must become people who continually offer that hospitable space, within ourselves as well as our buildings, for God’s love and grace that others may come among us and encounter Immanuel.’

The full text follows:
A night of hospitality

Christmas is the season of parties, family meals and special occasions with friends but it can be exhausting if you are the host all the time. As we listen to the Christmas story once again this year we hear that it was a night of hospitality – but who is the host?

The supernumeraries and their spouses and widows of the North Lancashire District are invited for a Christmas lunch each year. They are so grateful and often say things like ‘ it’s so good of you to host us’ but in honesty all we do is provide the space, the food and drink and then it just happens! That may be how the innkeeper rationalised offering the stable area with a manger to the holy family. As the host we’ll never know if it was out of warm generosity or just a business transaction that resulted in them being pushed out of the way.

In Britain 100,000’s of people come among us year by year from around the world. Many are migrant workers from eastern Europe, bringing their culture, faith and skills whilst others are people fleeing from persecution, war, seeking a better life for their children as asylum seekers and refugees. Time and again we hear that people want to come among us because of our hospitality; of our tolerance; our openness. How welcome do we make others feel?

Many churches are doing remarkable work among asylum seekers and refugees, with the homeless and others who feel on the edge of society. Yet there can often be a fear within us about those who are different and perhaps we might be tempted to want to push them out of the way, into the stable. As we see the landscape of our communities changing with the rich variety of people from across the world we must continue to discover ways to embrace and make everyone welcome, for each is a child of God, created in his own image. For when we meet any one we are meeting the Christ.

There was another hospitality that holy night. In a young frightened girl there is the hospitality of Mary whose willingness to receive the gift of God brings to birth the salvation of the world. We cannot begin to understand the fear, the shame, the bewilderment tinged with anticipation and even hope. Yet out of her ‘yes’ God became human and lived among us in Jesus…….and since then there have been countless people who have said ‘yes’ to God…to welcome Christ into their lives…so he may find a resting place, a birthing place to continue God’s living presence within the world.

This must be at the heart of who we are as church communities. We must become people who continually offer that hospitable space, within ourselves as well as our buildings, for God’s love and grace that others may come among us and encounter Immanuel. We need to welcome all but especially discover ways to welcome the young, many who like Mary are frightened and trying to make sense out of what is happening to them and the world they inhabit.

Yet there is a further host on that holy night. Here is God hosting his own party, the birth of His son, His own coming among us. God, Immanuel, becoming human and living among us in Jesus.

In some of the carol services this year we will find everyone singing the soprano line with no descant and little harmony. We live in a world where there is little harmony with people at war, where people in Britain struggle with the beginnings of recession, where in the wider world there is an increasing poverty gap, people suffering from cholera, AIDS, hunger and countless injustices. As we hear again the song of the angels we catch a glimpse of creation in harmony with the Creator…as a child is born….God come among us.

God the eternal host is giving us a glimpse of eternity, of His Kingdom, where all are one and at peace and in harmony seen in the poverty of shepherds and the riches of magi; in the powerlessness of the secular authority of Herod and in the glory of the vulnerability of the weak and frightened. And in this moment, this holy, eternal moment we hear the eternal host welcome us….

‘To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.’

The message will also be available online as an audio file. Visit

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Christmas Greetings

As I am about to go away for Christmas, I want to take the opportunity to send my Christmas letter to my many blogging friends who will not have had it by post. God has been good to me this year and I hope that 2009 will be an equally good adventure with Him, both for me and for you.

"Christmas greetings from Caversham. I hope that you and your family are well and looking forward to Christmas and the New Year 2009. I think you’ll agree that 2008 has been a very mixed year, both with the weather and the economy, but I hope that overall it has been a good year for you and that you will manage to escape the worst terrors of the credit crunch in 2009. It looks like being a difficult year ahead for most people but there are many more across the world whose situation is far worse than ours and we remember them as we approach Christmas once more.

I expect to be celebrating Christmas with Tony and Caroline and their family in
Derbyshire. I have enjoyed really good health this year as a result of being asked to take part in a research project to see if taking penicillin VK tablets twice a day for a year would prevent the recurrence of cellulitis. It looks as though I was taking these (and not the placebo) because I’m thankful to have had a whole year free of cellulitis.

I began the year by attending the first ever Methodist Bloggers’ Meeting on 4th and
5th January at the Community for Reconciliation Centre, Barnes Close, near Birmingham,where a small group of us discussed good blogging practice and ways to improve this method of communication. Since I was in that part of the country, I went on to Widnes to spend a couple of days with the widow of one of our former Ministers and we really enjoyed catching up on all our news.

After our annual ecumenical Good Friday March of Witness here, I went north again,
this time to steward for a new venture called the ECG Event (‘A Heart for the Nations’) which was held at Easter (25th-30th March) in Llandudno. This took the place of the former Easter People and, although run by different people – ‘NXT Ministries’, Hope ’08, ‘Youth for Christ’, and ECG – was very similar, especially in regard to the in-depth Bible Studies so popular at ‘Easter People’. A main emphasis at ECG is in catering for the 20s and 30s age group and the provision of events and activities specially geared to their needs and aspirations. For me, ECG was one of the highlights of 2008 and I am eagerly looking forward to the 2009 ECG Event which will also be in Llandudno, on 14th to 19th April 2009 – see

Another highlight this year was a family gathering at Bethany School in Kent for my great granddaughter Louisa’s first birthday on 10th May, which was much enjoyed by all of us.

Then I went to High Wycombe for the annual Wycliffe Associates Conference on 16th to
18th May where, as always, I was amazed at the amount of work that has been, and
continues to be, undertaken in support of missionaries working overseas. Of the speakers at the Conference, I was most impressed by Heather Patrick who has been doing translation work for Wycliffe Bible Translators in Papua New Guinea.

I went to the Methodist Conference in Scarborough in July where I was glad to be able
to step in to run the MET (Methodist Evangelicals Together) stand in the Exhibition,
which gave me a unique opportunity to meet old friends from far and wide as well as
listening in to the debates when not busy. As well as finding people I knew who were
manning other stands, I found myself opposite a stand run by two people who had been
teachers in the school across the road from me some years ago! It’s a small world!

I spent a week with Tony and family in Derbyshire, when we visited National Trust
Houses and then early September found me travelling north again – this time to Newcastle for the wedding of my great-niece, Nicola, to Neal, a direct descendant of John Wesley! I was met at the station by my nephew, Michael, who also lives in Newcastle, and I was delighted that he first took me along the waterfront to show me the bridges and the buildings on the Gateshead side of the Tyne in which he had been involved in the planning, before he took me home for a meal.

Despite the rain, the wedding was a very exciting occasion – both the ceremony in their local church and the reception in the magnificent Longhurst Hall in Morpeth,
Northumberland. Nicola and Neal are a lovely couple and I found myself thoroughly
enjoying the company of their many friends, who were all calling me ‘Auntie Olive!’
After staying the night at the Hall, we returned to Newcastle for an ‘Open house’ at the bride and groom’s very interesting house, which has only one room on each floor!. My only regret was that I was not able to see more of Nicola’s parents, who were kept busy seeing to the rest of their guests.

From there, my nephew Michael and I did something we have been talking about for ages
and we headed out towards Stanhope and the North Pennines’ National Park, despite the
rain that was so heavy that we were obliged to travel very slowly along the flooded
roads. Then we spent three wonderful days in Upper Teesdale, visiting familiar places from our youth, exploring places we’d only heard of previously and researching our family history. We made two visits each to the two Methodist Chapels that I remembered with such affection from the days of my youth when we had a family concert party and gave concerts there. The former Bowlees Primitive Methodist Chapel is now the Bowlees Tourist Centre, popular because of its proximity to the High Force waterfall and Gibson’s Cave, and the Newbiggin-in-Teesdale Methodist Chapel is very proud to be the oldest Methodist Chapel still in regular use in the world and jealously guards the pulpit from which John Wesley preached. Seeing a sign to Ettersgill, we followed the sign to see where my school friend, Lilian, had hailed from, but no-one remembered her – not surprising since she must have left the area in the early 1940s and then spent many years in Ghana. We visited the site of the Lady Rake Lead Mine where my father had driven an ancient vehicle in his youth – there is a photograph of him in the Beamish Museum – and,
when we went to the farmhouse where my grandfather had farmed, the current farmers
there came out to talk to us about the difficulties of farming today. A memorable trip!

I had two day trips to London (at the end of September and in early October) for a
Christian Bloggers’ Day and for the launch of the 2009 Pentecost Festival.

In September we began the 34-week Disciple 4 course, with participants from 3 Circuits. We are working hard, with quite a lot of homework, but there is such a lot of laughter in the group. The course is called ‘Under the Tree of Life’ and includes the study of the Writings, John and Revelation. I believe we are the only group in the country who have progressed through the other Disciple courses to the Disciple 4 course.

I am a representative on the Churches Together project to carry out Street Evangelism in Caversham, with a Welcome Café in the New Testament Church of God opposite the shopping precinct, but it is proving hard to recruit volunteers at present.

I have continued to proofread translations of Scripture in strange languages for Wycliffe Associates and now I have 1 John and Jude in Achi de Cubulco (a Guatemalan Language) awaiting me when I have finished writing this. I am still a representative to the Circuit Meeting, I prepare Prayer Guidelines each month and I am Media Publicity Director with a lot of work awaiting me in 2009 because of the very full programme of preachers and events arranged for our Centenary Year – see .

I continue to blog on and I was recently interviewed by
email for an article on ‘post retirement use of the Internet’, which appeared on the front page of the US Methodist Reporter – more because of my age than its content, I guess!

Wishing you a Happy Christmas and every blessing in the New Year."

P.S. Have you read my post entitled 'Letter to a Friend'? Please don't miss it!


Friday, 19 December 2008

MRDF appeals for support for crisis-hit countries

This Christmas, the Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) is calling on people to remember those affected by humanitarian crises in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zimbabwe. MRDF is supporting appeals through ACT (Action by Churches Together) International that will provide emergency supplies to some of the thousands of people who have been affected.

In the DRC, an estimated 250,000 people fled their homes when fighting broke out between Government forces and rebel fighters in October. At the time, reports from the country included stories of killing, rape, looting and children being forced to fight – UNICEF calls eastern Congo ‘the worst place in the world to be a child’.

ACT staff were able to deliver some initial assistance to crisis-hit areas. They are now assessing the current needs and are planning to provide food to severely malnourished children, safe water and psycho-social support to people affected by the conflict. Many families had to leave their land before their crops were harvested. Under these proposals, displaced families would also be given tools and seeds to ensure that there is food in their communities next year.

In Zimbabwe, a cholera epidemic has worsened the crisis in a country already suffering from desperate food shortages, a growing HIV/AIDS problem and economic instability. MRDF would like to thank everyone who has donated so far to the appeal launched in April. Over £30,000 has been raised and has been used to provide food supplies, supplementary vitamins for those living with HIV/AIDS, counselling for AIDS orphans and small livestock for food and breeding. However, the needs are huge, and growing. Further donations to this appeal will continue to provide this vital support to some of Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable households.

MRDF Director Kirsty Smith said: ‘For most of us in the UK, Christmas will be a time of sharing with friends and family. But many people living in Zimbabwe and the DRC face an uncertain future of insecurity, chronic hunger and sickness. These appeals give us the opportunity to assist thousands of people living in desperate and unstable situations.’

Donations for Zimbabwe and the DRC can be made by debit or credit card on 020 7224 4814, or by cheque, payable to “MRDF (Zimbabwe emergency)” or “MRDF (DRC emergency)”, posted to MRDF, Methodist Church House,
25 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5JR.

Taxpayers are encouraged to gift-aid their donations where possible, adding a value of 28p to every pound they give, at no extra personal cost.

Source: Methodist News Service 19 February 2008

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Letter to a Friend

In recent weeks in our house group we have made a change from our usual Bible study sessions and we have been following the Essence course, which uses non-verbal ways of exploring spirituality. Last night we were looking at our individual relationship with God and sharing our spiritual experiences.

In the course of the evening, we were each given a copy of 'A Letter to a Friend' and asked to write a reply to it. It made a deep impression on each and every one of us.

Letter to a Friend

Yesterday, I saw you walking and laughing with your friends; I hoped that soon you would want Me to walk along with you too.

So I painted you a sunset to close your day and whispered a cool breeze to refresh you. I waited - you never called - I just kept on loving you.

As I watched you fall asleep last night, I wanted so much to touch you,

I spilled moonlight onto your face - trickling down your cheeks as so many tears have. You didn't even think of Me;

I wanted so much to comfort you.

The next day I exploded a brilliant sunrise into glorious morning for you.

But you woke up late and rushed off to work - you didn't even notice.

My sky became cloudy and My tears were in the rain. I love you.

Oh, if only you would listen. I really love you.

I try to say it in the quiet of the green meadow and in the blue sky.

The wind whispers My love throughout the treetops and spills it into the vibrant colours of all the flowers.

I shout it to you in the thunder of the great waterfalls and compose love songs for birds to sing to you.

I warm you with the clothing of My warm sunshine and perfume the air with nature's sweet scent.

My love for you is deeper than any ocean and greater than any need in your heart. If only you'd realise how I care.

My Dad sends His love. I want you to meet Him - He cares, too.

Fathers are just that way. So, please call Me soon.

No matter how long it takes. I'll wait - because I love you.

Your friend, Jesus.

If you are looking for a new course - a fresh expression, perhaps - I can heartily recommend the Essence course, which can be adapted for any age group. I need to warn you, though, that the leader will need to spend quite some time in preparation each week! It is certainly proving to be a very spiritual course for us.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

What is the Church's response to the economic crisis?

The Methodist Church hosts a one day conference – The Economic Climate: Towards sustainable economies and livelihoods – on Tuesday 20 January at Methodist Church House in London.

Ann Pettifor (economist, executive director of Advocacy International and former head of Jubilee 2000) and Bob Goudzwaard (Professor emeritus at the Free University in Amsterdam, former member of the Dutch Parliament), will lead debate on the Church’s response to the current Economic Crisis.

The day will consider the root causes of the current economic crisis and the response of the Churches in terms of their prophetic, pastoral and partnership roles and responsibilities.

For further information or to ask about attending, go to .

Source: Methodist Enews December 2008

What should the President and Vice-President do?

A working party is examining and reporting to Methodist Conference on all aspects of the roles of President and Vice-President and how they work together and relate to the senior leadership of the Church.

People are invited to make their comments and submissions. These include:

how the roles of President and Vice-President might be developed;
how they might work more closely with the General Secretary of the Church/Secretary of the Conference to present a shared vision and to energise the Church;
the length of office of each;
the title of Vice-President.
You can also use the opportunity to respond to the idea of a small connexional leadership group which accounts to and serves the Methodist Council and Conference.

5 January 2009 is the deadline for your comments.

For more information go to

Source: Methodise Enews December 2008

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Churches Together in Berkshire News

Churches Together in Berkshire
Incorporating the Unitary Authority areas of:
Bracknell, Newbury, Reading, Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead, Wokingham

Honor Alleyne December 2008
County Ecumenical Officer

Who is My Neighbour?
Reading Launch

· Wednesday February 4th 2009
· 6.30 for 7.00pm start (till 8.30pm)
· Venue – Greyfriars Church, Friar Street, Reading, RG1 1EH (by kind invitation of the Vicar, the Reverend Jonathan Wilmot)
· Coffee/tea will be provided


· Setting the local scene
· Presenting the issues (Bishop Joe Aldred, principal author of the report)
· Discussion/Questions
· Networking

Contributing to the evening will be

· Alan Magness of Impact Reading
· Tim Clewer, the Mustard Tree Foundation
· Fizzang, an ecumenical youth group from the churches in East Reading

News About

· A proposed Street Pastors scheme for Reading

Methodist Church calls for welfare with dignity

Methodists have expressed concern for lone parents and people receiving incapacity benefits following the publication of the Welfare Reform White Paper yesterday.

While the proposals offer assistance to help some of the five million people who claim benefits find employment, the Church warned the proposed bill would impose new conditions and potential sanctions to a wide range of vulnerable people.
Rowntree Foundation.

Paul Morrison, Methodist Policy Adviser, said: “Research from the Rowntree Foundation and others shows that those who claim benefits exist on inadequate incomes and want opportunities to work. Although a small minority may abuse the system, a package containing a focus on coercion risks stigmatising the poorest and, at worst, not treating the benefit claimants with the dignity they deserve.”

“The Church believes that those who are unable to work because of illness, disability or caring responsibilities are valued and equal members of society and deserve a benefit system which acknowledges this.”

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

An Urgent Message from Oxfam

Decision makers are meeting this week in Brussels and Poland for crucial climate talks.

It's within their power to be bold and agree to action that will help avoid catastrophic climate change, yet they're on the brink of agreeing a shambolic, watered down position that risks locking us into a climate disaster.

We're facing a decision moment - let's demand bold, global action to tackle climate change

European countries are working out policy that should cement Europe's position as a global leader on climate change. Instead, some nations are inappropriately using the economic crisis as a reason to water down any serious plans.

The truth is that we don't have to choose between the economic crisis and the climate crisis - by investing in green jobs, and clean technology we can tackle both.

The irresponsible actions of some EU nations are now spilling over to UN climate talks, threatening to unravel any wider, global deal.

Oxfam's team of negotiators are working hard behind the scenes at the UN talks – piling the pressure on decision makers to get these critical meetings back on track.

There's no time to lose – demand bold, global action to tackle climate change

Monday, 8 December 2008

Presidents and Vice-Presidents at Swanwick

What a delight it was to visit the President's and Vice-President's blog tomight and discover a galaxy of Presidents and Vice-Presidents photographed at their (first) historic gathering at Swanwick recently, although I failed to locate Tom Stuckey, Leslie Griffiths or Dudley Coates among those wonderfully familiar faces.

I would love to have had a tape-recording of the conversations and discussions that took place there, but I'm sure we will be given the benefit of some of this as time goes on for I understood that this was the idea of the gathering.

It lifts my heart and makes me proud to have been a humble member of the Methodist Church through the years when so many of them led us at Conference and through their following year in office.

We owe so much to our leaders, past and present, and so I give thanks to God for all leadership in the past and look forward to hearing much more from them in the future as they share their vision for the 21st Century Methodist Church and the wider ecumenical witness.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

London Diocese’s Comic Turn For Christmas

The Anglican Diocese of London has produced Beano-style comics to retell the birth of Christ to schoolchildren. The church produced the comics to make the nativity story ‘fresh and relevant’ amid concerns that many children just do not know it. The comics can be downloaded along with collective worship and lesson plans from Packs of the materials have been delivered to the 479 parishes and 130 schools in the diocese.

Source: The Times (1/12)

Away In A Bus Shelter

Bus shelters across the UK are to feature an oil painting of the nativity this Christmas. The twist is that the painting depicts the holy family themselves huddled in an urban bus shelter. Artist Andrew Gadd, a Royal Academy Gold-medal winner, said a bus stop ‘is after all a shelter – a place people go to but never want to be. So where better to stage a nativity?’ He explained that the image will ‘reflect the environment’ it is shown in and ‘include the viewer’. The paintings will appear on posters sponsored by the Churches Advertising Network (CAN). Chairman Francis Goodwin said the aim is to help people ‘reassess what the birth of Jesus means to them’.

Sources: BBC online (4/12); Church of England Newspaper (5/12)

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Changing Stations

Today is a special day for many people in UK Methodism because the Stationing Committee has been meeting earlier this week and since then there has been a flurry of emails and phone calls betweeen presbyters and church stewards. The result is that today many presbyters will be visiting the stewards in the church(es) where they might possibly be stationed next September.

It is not always easy to match a presbyter's gifts, dreams and hopes with those of a congregation and so a great deal depends on these first encounters, and they all need our prayers that God's will may be done in the final decision-making. I am praying for my Minister as he goes with great expectancy to visit what may be his new 'Station', and I am hoping that he will not be disappointed there but find a real match of interests, aims and opportunities.

At the same time I am praying for the meeting today of our stewards here and a presbyter who is interested in becoming our next Minister next September. I don't think Caversham is an easy assignment but it has much potential, so I'm very much hoping that whoever becomes our next Minister will build on what has already been achieved and challenge us to move forward into fresh expressions of church that will attract many more people as we build the kingdom of God here.

As 2009 is our Centenary year, whoever comes to us as our Minister in September will find that an interesting programme has been arranged for the final quarter of the year, with several important guest preachers. The dificulty will come in the New Year 2010 when all the excitement of the Centenary Year is over and we return to 'normal'. This is when the new Minister will need all his/her reserves of strength and leadership.

Finally, let us all pray earnestly for all those presbyters on the move next year and for the churches eagerly awaiting their next Minister, that the Holy Spirit may breathe new life and health into our beloved UK Methodist Church - for Christ's sake.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Rebuke For Anti-Israel Carol Service

A London carol service organised by Jews for Boycotting Israel and Open Bethlehem, a Palestinian campaign group, has been condemned by the current and previous Archbishops of Canterbury. ‘Bethlehem Now: Nine Alternative Lessons and Carols’ featured rewritten carols which focused on denouncing Israeli security measures. The Twelve Days of Christmas included ‘Twelve assassinations, Eleven homes demolished, Ten walls obstructed, Nine sniper towers’. The Rector of St James, Picadilly said he had received dozens of complaints and would ‘think twice’ before allowing a repeat of the service.

Source: The Times (2/12)

New US Breakaway Anglican Province

A new Anglican province was announced unilaterally this week by conservative Anglicans who have split from the Episcopal Church of the USA (ECUSA). Formed by four breakaway US dioceses and conservative parishes from the US and Canada, the move is unprecedented and threatens the schism the Archbishop of Canterbury has been trying to avoid. Today a previously arranged meeting of evangelical archbishops from Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the Southern Cone (in Latin America) will discuss the development in London with Archbishop Rowan Williams. The new province would need to begin an approval process to be recognised officially by the Anglican Communion.

Sources: Daily Telegraph (4/12); The Times (5/12)

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Church hopes for long term improvement following Government’s legislative programme.

The Methodist Church envisages long term improvement rather than a quick fix to the economic crisis following the Queen’s speech to Parliament.

The Church welcomed measures to empower around eight million people on low incomes through the Welfare Reform Bill and the Gateway Savings Bill, but added there were questions still to be answered on how they would affect lone parents.

David Bradwell, Methodist Policy Adviser, said: "In these challenging economic times it is crucial that the Government does all it can to support the least well-off and most vulnerable members of society. We mustn't expect this legislative programme to provide a quick fix, but we can hope that it will help ordinary people in the long term.

"The Welfare Reform Bill and the Gateway Savings Bill provide opportunities to empower about eight million people on low incomes to start saving, with the help of Government funded contributions, and to encourage unemployed people into work. There are questions, however, about how this might impact on lone parents with young children. We will also be interested to see the detail of proposed changes to housing, employment and banking practices. As members of the Get Fair campaign, the Methodist Church supports any measures designed to reduce inequality and provide financial stability.”

The Church also said it would continue its commitment to tackle alcohol abuse by lobbying lawmakers. It also backed progress towards a fairer society as well as plans to repeal restrictions on protesting around Parliament.

"We hope to be able to engage lawmakers in a number of other areas of concern, such as alcohol abuse and the licensing of lap dancing clubs,” said David. “We hope that there will be opportunity to place restrictions on irresponsible alcohol promotions, and to give local authorities more powers to take into account local feeling when considering lap dancing club licence applications.

“We warmly welcome the proposals in the Constitutional Reform Bill to repeal the restrictions on protesting near Parliament. This Bill will also strengthen the role of Parliament in approving international treaties.

"The new Equality Bill will present opportunities for our society to become fairer, in terms of gender pay difference and by introducing a single equality duty for public bodies. This legislation does throw up issues relating to religious belief, and we still need to resolve the tension between secular expectations about equality and religious traditions and understanding of the world.

"We will continue to work closely with ecumenical partners, Government departments and MPs on these topics over the coming months. We continue to hold MPs and Peers in our thoughts and prayers as the new Parliamentary session gets underway."

Source: Methodist News Service 03/12/2008

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Methodist Church backs appeal to help thousands affected by flooding in Brazil

An international appeal to help thousands of people displaced by floods in Brazil has been backed by the Methodist Church in Britain.

Almost 80,000 people lost their homes and around 100 people lost their lives after a torrential downpour struck the costal region of the southern Brazilian state of Santa Caterina last week.

Landslides swept away homes in some of the poorest, mountainous neighbourhoods in the region and nine towns have been blocked by the deluge.

Bishop João Carlos Lopes, the Bishop of the Methodist Church in Brazil, said: “It is a tragedy. We have never had a situation like this in this country. Some towns and communities are 70 per cent under water. The Brazilian people are very caring and everybody is trying to help. The main problem is that the poor people in Brazil do not have housing insurance. If you lose your house it is gone. We are concerned about the reconstruction once the water goes down. We are also worried as it looks like it may rain again.”

Six Methodist Churches in the affected region have offered refuge to people left homeless. Pastors have also given shelter to displaced Brazilians as 25 per cent of homes in the area, particularly in the cities of Batangas and Balneario Camboriu, were devastated by the floods.

Rev Thomas Quenet, Partnership Coordinator for World Church Relationships, said: “I am concerned at what happens to the poorest people in countries like Brazil. Because Brazil is perceived as being a developed country, there is a danger that we will think the poorest in society will be given greater assistance from others. Due to property price inflation, many of the poorest people in Brazil are forced to build homes on steep hillsides, which are most at risk from landslides. This is what has happened in the Valley of Iloilo.

“I would urge and encourage generous Methodist people to make a response to people who have lost their homes, their businesses and their livelihoods.”

Oseias Barbosa Da Silva, a Methodist Minister in Tewkesbury with links with the Methodist Church in Brazil, has been offering advice to the relief workers in Santa Caterina following his experience of the UK summer floods in 2007.

Anyone wishing to support the international appeal for help to the 80,000 people left homeless in Brazil should contact Tom at the Fund For World Mission on 020 7467 5160 or via email

Source: Methodist News Service 02/12/2008

Monday, 1 December 2008

Methodist Church invited to ‘Sing a New Song’

The Methodist Music Resources Group is asking people to offer their opinions on a new collection of hymns and songs in their ‘Sing a New Song’ consultation.

The aim is to produce a music resource that retains the best of the old and includes the best of the new, reflecting a diversity of theological and musical traditions. The new compilation contains 294 hymns from the 1983 collection Hymns and Psalms, and draws on the best new material that has emerged since Hymns and Psalms was originally compiled.

The Revd Barbara Bircumshaw, Chair of the Music Resources Group, said; “Worshipping God in music and song is in the very soul of Methodism. This consultation offers people the chance to engage with the draft collection and let us know their thoughts before the final list is submitted to the 2009 Conference for approval.”

The draft collection contains over 700 hymns and songs, including international and previously unpublished material. It is arranged by subject, covering themes such as the love of God, suffering, justice and peace. At this stage the list is incomplete and there will be additions and doubtless deletions.

The consultation will run from 1 December 2008 through to the 31 January 2009. The full list of hymns, together with an online response form, is available at The list will also appear in The Methodist Recorder on Thursday.

Source: Methodist News Service 01/12/2008

Churches Call for Crackdown on Carbon Emissions Through Energy Conservation

Concerns over Government go-ahead for Kingsnorth Power Station

The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church have urged the Government to reduce Britain’s carbon emissions following Lord Turner’s report published today.

The three denominations backed the report’s aim to substantially reduce carbon emissions by 2023. They called on Ministers to turn away from investment in coal-fired power stations and look towards pumping significant investment into energy conservation.

Steve Hucklesby, Methodist Policy Adviser, said: “We welcome the Government announcement of spending to provide better insulation and energy saving measures for public housing. Those on lower incomes have found the rise in fuel prices particularly difficult. But we must go much further and invest in a programme to conserve energy across the economy.

“It is difficult to see how we can invest in new coal-fired power stations such as Kingsnorth and still achieve the rapid decarbonisation of our economy necessary to avert climate change. Coal-fired power stations produce more carbon emissions than any other generating source. We need to begin now to work for a future in which fossil fuels will be the exception, not the rule.”

The three churches also stressed that while carbon offsetting was a positive action, it would be unacceptable for Britain to use carbon credits to buy out its responsibility to reduce domestic emissions.

“Carbon offsetting is not the solution to climate change. It is right that we support the development of clean energy in developing countries, but substantially buying out our responsibility to reduce emissions in the UK would be unjust,” said Steve.

The Methodist Church working with Church Action on Poverty sent out leaflets to all its churches today with information on how to reduce fuel bills and CO2 emissions.

Source: Methodist News Service 01/12/2008

Saturday, 29 November 2008


The Archbishop of York and an interdenominational church spokesman for migrants have united in condemning recent remarks made by immigration minister Phil Woolas. Earlier this month, Mr Woolas said ‘The [asylum] system is played by migration lawyers and NGOs to the nth degree. By giving false hope and by undermining the legal system, [they] actually cause more harm than they do good.’ Archbishop John Sentamu branded the remarks ‘unmerciful’ and said the UK ‘must show a better way’ at a time when Zimbabwe’s citizens are tortured and subjected to inhumane treatment. Mentioning the example of a sick Ghanaian woman who died shortly after she was deported, he said, ‘the separation of religion, morality and law has gone too far’. Revd Arlington Trotman, moderator for the Churches Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) said Mr Woolas had ‘passed judgment on a very complex area … without first taking sufficient time to understand the complexities and sensitivities of immigration’.

Source: Daily Telegraph (28/11)

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Lord Leslie Griffiths named Chair of Methodist Heritage Committee

Lord Leslie Griffiths of Pembrey and Burry Port has been appointed Chair of the newly formed Methodist Heritage Committee.

The Committee will work to better involve the Church’s heritage in its engagement with contemporary society. By telling the stories of Methodism more effectively and supporting Methodist heritage sites as places of pilgrimage and spirituality, the committee will address how historic locations can be effective in Christian mission.

Lord Griffiths said; “In our post-colonial, post-modern world the question of identity looms large. Our heritage reminds us who we are and gives us the courage to tell our story and to serve the present age. I’m delighted to have a part to play in this imaginative new venture.”

Lord Griffiths is a Methodist minister, Labour peer and broadcaster. He is a Knight of the Order of St. John and an Honorary Canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral. He was President of the Methodist Conference 1994-1995. Among his interests he lists laughter and fellowship as well as literature, theology and sport.

A full-time Methodist Heritage Officer will be appointed to the Church’s Connexional Team in the New Year, to convene and work collaboratively with the Committee.

Source; Methodist News Service 27/11/2008

Monday, 24 November 2008

Sarah Malik named first salaried Methodist Youth President

First role of its kind in any mainstream UK Church

Sarah Malik has been elected Methodist Youth President at this year’s Methodist Youth Conference. From January until September 2009 Sarah will work full time to serve as an advocate and spokesperson for young people in the Church.

This new role is the first to be appointed in the Church’s new £4million Youth Participation Strategy, launched at the Youth Conference in Northampton last weekend. This is the first time salaried positions have been specifically targeted at the 16 to 23-year-olds in order that young people help guide the direction of the church.

Sarah, who is 20, said; ‘I’m really excited about this new role. In my year of presidency I hope to spend time travelling Britain and listening to what young people in the Church have to say and what they want to see changing. I find it easy to motivate myself when I am working towards something I love.’

Mike Seaton, Children and Youth Team Director, said; ‘This new role is about encouraging and empowering the Church’s young people. During Sarah’s travels she will be able to challenge Methodists of all ages to welcome the participation of children and young people in all aspects of the Church’s work and life.’

Sarah is a carer at a residential care home in Eyam, Derbyshire. She enjoys cooking and watching films and is passionate about helping people to participate in worship through the creation of prayer labyrinths.

The Youth Participation Strategy will also see 32 young people employed in new, part-time salaried posts as District Youth Enablers across the Methodist Church in Britain.

Youth Presidents will be appointed to work full-time in the Church annually from September 2009.


This is wonderful news and I look forward to the dynamic energy and vision that these young people will bring to the Methodist Church. We live in exciting times!
Let's make sure that we all pray for them all in their new roles and that God will inspire and empower them for the benefit of the whole church.



This is the title of the second ECG Event to be held at Easter on 14-19th April 2009 at the beautiful North Wales holiday resort of Llandudno. Everyone who experienced the movement of God's Spirit at this year's ECG Event can hardly wait for next Easter to renew that inspiring sense of being equipped, called and sent out in the name of Jesus.

If you dream of being a prophetic voice in your community, if you long to be part of a church that speaks out and seeks to make a real difference in the world, then you need to be at ECG 2009 - because so do we! That's our dream too! This is our passion and we want to share this journey together! ECG seeks to challenge, envision and equip you to be a relevant and radical disciple of Jesus!

Once again the inspiring worship will be led by the popular, lively (and very noisy) Y-Friday and Philippa Hanna in two very different main venues. The Key Bible Teacher for ECG 2009 is Martyn Atkins (General Secretary of the Methodist Church of Great Britain) and there are aslo a whole host of world-class speakers, Bible-teachers and specialist experts, including: Roy Crowne, Pete Greig and Michelle Guiness. There will be prayer spaces, outstanding children's, youth and sports programmes, and the fringe brimming with the best of Christian music, theatre and comedy talent and even more community-based mission activities on offer.

As last year, there is special emphasis on catering for the 20-30 year olds, as Gav Calver and Kate John, both in their 20s and part of the ECG Exec Team, can testify. They say, "If, like us, you are in your 20s and 30s and want to see your heart, life and community changed by God, then Venue 2 is the place to be. Together we will share in a range of worship experiences and learning opportunities specifically with people of our age-range in mind. We're committed to equipping Christians in their
20s and 30s with interactive workshops run by experts in their fields on key issues such as money/debt, relationships/singleness, career/calling, fair-trade/environmentalism. There is also a multi-stage prayer-path for you to chill out with God in your own time, town-wide mission activities to dive into (including cafe/sports evangelism and social action), plus some not-to-be-missed performances from top singer-songwriters."

Bookings made before 31st December are at least £5 cheaper than after that date and group bookings of 20 or more will earn you one free place! There is Kibbutz as well as other accommodation available.

The ECG Event has the same buzz that Easter People had and provides the same level of in-depth Bible study that was so popular at Easter People. All age groups were inspired by ECG this Easter and there is such eagerness to make sure of being involved in 2009 that I have found that many of the modestly-priced guest houses are already filling up. You will have an unforgettable experience at ECG 2009 and I will look forward to seeing you there.

To book, or for any other information, visit .

Friday, 21 November 2008


A quarter of children with a religious belief are bullied at school because of their faith, a new survey reveals. The findings prompted BeatBullying, the charity who funded the research, to call on the government to compel schools to record all incidents of faith-based bullying and to fund more extensive research and preventative measures. The study of 1,000 11- to 16-year-olds found that half of them practised their religion, twice the proportion of adults who do. But 20 per cent said their friendships were largely with others who shared the same religious background. Behind incidents of verbal and physical violence, there is a lack of cohesion between different religious communities and not enough support for discussing faith issues with their peers, a Beatbullying spokesperson said.

Sources: The Independent (17/11); Church of England Newspaper (21/11); Baptist Times (20/11)

Churches urged to mark World AIDS Day

An Asian Worship Service for World AIDS Day has been commended for use in churches across Britain.

The background to the liturgy endorsed by the Christian Conference of Asia highlights the fact that someone dies of an AIDS-related illness every 15 seconds, often because of a lack of medicine.

Rev Stephen Penrose said: “As the Director of the London Ecumenical AIDS Trust and also as a Methodist Minister, I would commend this liturgy to be used around World Aids Day by our churches. I particularly like the sermon notes; they not only give the facts, setting them in a theological context, but hopefully will stir people into action.”

The information from the Ministry of Health Indonesia 2006 points out that all people are at risk from HIV and AIDS and everyone can make a contribution to reducing that risk.

Statistics also illustrate the problem of the HIV epidemic in Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Pakistan, China and India.

A copy of the sermon is attached along with this press release and is available online at .

Source: Methodist News Service 21/11/2008

Thursday, 20 November 2008


Extraordinary gifts for Christmas

As many of us rack our brains for the perfect gift for that difficult relative, the Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) is encouraging people to do something life-changing this Christmas. It has launched an all-new range of gifts: ordinary-sounding things that make an extraordinary difference to people living in some of the world’s poorest communities.

Extraordinary gifts provide a variety of opportunities, such as sending a child to school in Bangladesh or giving families in El Salvador a wood-saving stove. A colourful card and magnet explain all about the small miracle that each item enables – and with prices from £7 and gifts from around the world – it’s not hard to find the perfect miracle – whomever you are buying for.

MRDF’s Director of Supporter Relations, Amanda Norman, says: ‘Understandably, people will want to be careful with their money this Christmas. Buying one of MRDF’s Extraordinary gifts is money well spent – a meaningful gift that will change the lives of some of the world’s poorest people.’

Each gift comes from ongoing work carried out through responsible, local agencies that know what is best for their communities. MRDF works closely with its partners ensure everything it supports is safe, sustainable and situationally appropriate.

Extraordinary gifts can be bought online from, or by calling 020 7467 5132 to order a catalogue.

Source: Methodist News Service 20/11/2008

Wednesday, 19 November 2008


October 4-13, 2009

Following the tremendous success of our 2007 China Challenge, we invite you to join a team of people who accept the challenge of walking part of the Great Wall of China in 2009 to raise funds through sponsorship for persecuted Christians.

This is a fantastic experience and an opportunity to do something extraordinary for your brothers and sisters in Christ. We are planning for participants to have an opportunity to meet local Chinese Christians and hear accounts of the persecution they face.

The cost of next year's China Challenge is approximately £1,525 per person including airport taxes, insurance, transfers, food and accommodation (where arranged).

Find out more on our website. To request an information pack containing the full details, including the itinerary, please call Paul on 01689 823491 or email

Source: Release Update 18/11/2008

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


The popular Christian satellite channels Revelation TV (Sky 585) and Genesis TV (Sky 592) are to broadcast a special one-hour programme, featuring the ministry of Release, in December.

The programme will be an overview of the persecution facing Christians worldwide, and will be followed by a 30-minute discussion which looks ahead to the prospects facing the persecuted church in 2009. The discussion will include CEO Andy Dipper and journalist Andrew Boyd as special guests.

When these are first broadcast on Tuesday December 9 (see below), the discussion will include a live phone-in, allowing viewers to put their comments and questions.

If you receive these channels, please consider inviting your Christian friends round to watch this special coverage, which promises to be both inspiring and informative.

The programme and discussion will be broadcast as part of World in Focus as follows:

2100 Tuesday December 9 Genesis TV (Sky 592) followed by live phone-in
0100 Wednesday December 10 Revelation TV (Sky 585)
0800 Wednesday December 10 Genesis TV (Sky 592)
1330 Wednesday December 10 Revelation TV (Sky 585)

Sourse: Release Update, November 2008

Churches gear up for Year of the Child 2009

Church leaders are being encouraged to help make 2009 ‘a year to remember’ for young people and the Church with the launch of an interdenominational Year of the Child, to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the United Nations’ International Year of the Child.

A group of Children’s Advisers from across the Church of England’s dioceses, alongside representatives from the Methodist Church and other denominations and agencies, identified widespread interest in making a distinctive Christian contribution to this anniversary. In light of this enthusiasm, the network plans to promote 2009 as an opportunity for local churches to review the work they do with and for children and young people, and to do more to recognise and celebrate their contribution in the life of the church and society.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, comments: “In the lead up to the Year of the Child 2009 it is my hope that individual churches and Christian denominations throughout the country will opt in and make available the resources needed to make it a success.

“Young people all over the country need to hear the words of Christ's love for them in all manner of ways. So too, we the Church need to hear afresh God speaking to us through the life and witness of children. Come and join the celebration, be challenged and inspired.”

Some of the early initiatives already being prepared for next year include:

From Lancashire, a pilgrimage of 14 – 21 year olds from the Diocese of Blackburn to the Diocese of Free State, South Africa. The young people will spend two weeks next summer in local schools and churches and will also get involved with practical community projects – such as working with people with HIV and AIDs – with the aim of building on the two dioceses’ existing twinning relationship;

In West Sussex, the Youth and Children’s Work department of the Diocese of Chichester is running a conference on ‘Changing Childhood’ in July, in collaboration with the University of Chichester;

Again in Lancashire, up to 3,000 people are expected at a ‘Big Day Out for the Family’ at Lytham St Annes in June. This will include music, worship, games and other special activities as the Blackburn Diocese celebrates the Year of the Child on school playing fields at the seaside;

In Northamptonshire, the Diocese of Peterborough has issued a list of 30 tips for churches interested in getting involved in the Year of the Child, including ensuring that children and young people’s work is discussed at every parochial church council meeting, that young people’s concerns are expressed in intercessory prayers at the main Sunday service, and that churches consider donating books to a local school;

In Liverpool, the diocese is continuing to develop a ‘Child Friendly Church Awards Scheme’ recognising those parishes which have adopted various aspects of good practice in children’s ministry – and nearby Manchester diocese is planning to promote the scheme to its parishes;

In Norfolk, the Diocese of Norwich’s Youth Task Force hopes to develop a web based youth forum to improve communication between young people across the rural county.

The Revd Mary Hawes, National Children’s Adviser, stresses that Year of the child 2009 is not a prescriptive project or even a centrally driven programme: “It is simply an open invitation to the Christian church in the UK to join in by making 2009 a special year for children and young people. There are no plans for big national events, but rather to create a spotlight to help churches focus on their work with children and to explore partnerships with other churches, both locally and globally. We are hoping that 2009 will be a year in which the issues, injustices and challenges facing young people today can be highlighted, and for work with children and young people to be celebrated,” she comments.

Updates on the activities taking place under the Church’s Year of the Child umbrella will be published periodically during 2009 and distributed to local churches. Parishes interested in finding out more can find inspiration and resources at

Early next year, the Church’s official publisher – Church House Publishing – is due to release ‘Through the Eyes of a Child’, a book drawing together a range of contributions on children’s theology to help extend the legacy of the Year of the Child.

Source: Methodist News Service 18/11/2008

Monday, 17 November 2008


I've been struggling with this week's assignment for our Disciple 4 group tonight - to tie up the Proverbs with the Ten Commandments. The one I really got stuck with is 'Keep the Sabbath day holy.' I can't find a proverb that links with that! That's one way to make us read and re-read the Proverbs, isn't it? But not even my concordances have been able to help with this one! Well, I shall soon find out what the others have made of this assignment!

On a lighter note, now that I am slightly diabetic, the Proverb I like best (in a modern translation) is 'Eat too much chocolate and you will be sick.'



While walking down the street one day a "Member of Parliament" is tragically hit by a truck and dies.

His soul arrives in heaven and is met by St. Peter at the entrance.

'Welcome to heaven,' says St. Peter. 'Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we're not sure what to do with you.'

'No problem, just let me in,' says the man.

'Well, I'd like to, but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in hell and one in heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity.'

'Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in heaven,' says the MP.

'I'm sorry, but we have our rules.'

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him.

Everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, shake his hand, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at the expense of the people.

They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster, caviar and champagne.

Also present is the devil, who really is a very friendly & nice guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that before he realizes it, it is time to go.

Everyone gives him a hearty farewell and waves while the elevator rises...

The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him.

'Now it's time to visit heaven.'

So, 24 hours pass with the MP joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.

'Well, then, you've spent a day in hell and another in heaven. Now choose your eternity.'

The MP reflects for a minute, then he answers: 'Well, I would never have said it before, I mean heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in hell.'

So St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to hell.

Now the doors of the elevator open and he's in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage.

He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags as more trash falls from above.

The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulder. 'I don't understand,' stammers the MP. 'Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse, and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, and danced and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable.
What happened?'

The devil looks at him, smiles and says, 'Yesterday we were campaigning. . ..

Today you voted.'

Friday, 14 November 2008

Methodist Church calls for UN emergency food aid access into Gaza

The Methodist Church in Britain has urged for Gaza border crossings to be kept open so that emergency food aid can reach people in need. The current crisis developed after Israeli troops entered Gaza to destroy a tunnel, killing a Hamas gunman. Since then, five more Palestinians have been killed by an Israeli airstrike and Palestinian militia have fired rockets into Israel.

Steve Hucklesby, Methodist Church Policy Adviser, said: “In recent years Gaza’s isolation has devastated the economy. The lifeline of food and fuel has become crucial and half of the population of Gaza currently depends on UN food supplies.

“Palestinians have a right under international law to receive essential humanitarian aid. We appeal to the UK and EU to exert pressure on Israel to ensure that the border crossings are kept open. We must hope for progress on dialogue in the coming months. The additional tension created by military incursions into Gaza makes this more difficult.”

This year Methodist Conference adopted a motion calling on Methodists to write to their MPs and MEPs to demand urgent action to alleviate the humanitarian crisis facing the people of Gaza and to pray for peace and justice for all God’s people in the Holy Land.

Source: Methodist News Service 15/11/2008

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Boys face longer wait for adoption’

I am very glad to give prominence to this article in last nnight's edition of my local newspaper, the Reading Evening Post, which seeks to explode the myth that boys are harder to bring up and therefore to adopt. One of my sisters adopted one and fostered a surprising number of others during her lifetime.

Laura Herbert writes:-

"Boys could wait longer to be adopted as they are perceived as being more trouble and harder to parent, according to a new study.

The research commissioned by the British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF) is part of its National Adoption Week, which started on Monday. Results in the South East show one in five people think boys are tougher to parent than girls, while 45 per cent of people thought there was a nationwide perception of boys being more trouble. Just over half of those asked felt the media played a big part in the perception of boys and believed it portrayed them in an overly negative way.

However, Reading-based adoption and fostering agency Parents and Children Together (PACT) disagreed with the results. Sarah Pepys, director of adoption at PACT, said: “When someone is approved to adopt, they receive several family-finding magazines in which they see the picture and summarised lives of just a handful of the children in local authority care every month needing new ‘forever families’.

“A glance at the pages of any one of these does indeed show there are more boys than girls seeking adoption but they would also see a disproportionate number of children who are special for a different reason; maybe they belong to a sibling group, or they are older or have special needs.”

Ms Pepys added: “We at PACT work hard with our prospective parents to identify what aspects of a child’s personality or background they could most comfortably deal with.
“We have found that many families seek to have girls placed and are therefore keen to recruit families for those little boys for whom placements have not yet been found. “We are very keen for families interested in adopting boys to contact us to find placements for those waiting.”

Since its launch in 1997, National Adoption Week aims to encourage more families to come forward to adopt children who wait the longest. A majority of them are older children, children with disabilities, brothers and sisters, and children from some black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

For more information about adoption and fostering visit or contact PACT on 0800 731 1845 or visit

Source: Reading Evening Post - Laura Herbert - 12/11/2008

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Bad hair day!

A number of ladies at our church are quite upset at the news that our faithful hairdressing establishment closed down on 3rd November 'due to circumstances beyond our control'. There is, of course, speculation as to the unforeseen circumstances that have led to this, but we know that the owner hairdresser has not been well lately and we see other small businesses closing down because of the credit crunch.

It is nevertheless a great shock for people like me who have been reliant on that hairdressing establishment for a long time - in my case 60 years! Of course, it has changed ownership in those years and the staff has changed from time to time but to have a good hairdresser just down the road has been so very convenient.

So now the search goes on for a suitable, reliable and local hairdresser. It makes quite a difference which one we choose because your hairdresser can change your whole appearance. I had my last appointment during the last few days of their days in business and I remember thinking that it was odd that there were only two 'girls' in the salon and no customers, but I put it down to it being lunchtime.

I do hope that, when I next need the services of a hairdresser, I don't find that they have too many bookings because of taking on the large clientele of the oldest established salon in Caversham! I notice that several small businesses of various kinds are now closed in Reading, so perhaps we shall have to get used to more closures as the recession takes its toll on local businesses.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Methodist Church welcomes push for the responsible pricing of alcohol

The British Methodist Church has welcomed calls from MPs to set minimum prices on alcoholic drinks.

Today’s report from the Home Affairs Select Committee ‘Policing in the 21st Century’ highlights the serious problems of alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour. It calls for an end to ‘happy hours’, supermarket loss-leading promotions, and the introduction of minimum sale prices for alcohol.

David Bradwell, Public Issues Policy Adviser, said: ‘Alcohol misuse is a growing problem. This is partly due to the easy availability of cheap booze – alcohol was 69% more affordable last year compared to 1980. This is why we support the recommendations of the Select Committee.’

The Methodist Church has a long tradition of promoting abstinence and moderate drinking as a way of tackling the problems alcohol causes.

David continued; ‘John Wesley railed against cheap gin in the 18th century because of its devastating impact on the lives of the most vulnerable people. The Methodist Church today urges the Government to move towards imposing minimum prices for alcohol and ending irresponsible promotions by retailers.

Source: Methodist News Service 10/11/2008

Increasing the price is only a partial solution but it should help quite a lot. A year or two ago I had to go in search of a young man whose family (and church) had lost touch with him and there was considerable worry concerning him. So I braved going into a 'club' that I had once overheard him mention. I was so shocked to find him in that scruffy place - the darkest, dirtiest, most uninviting and smallest social space I had ever seen or could imagine. It was straight out of a Dickens TV film! It was even more of a shock for me to discover that this dreadful place was also being frequented by young men from a neighbouring Methodist church, all from good families, and the ONLY reason they all gave for going there was that it was the only place where they could get cheap beer.

Breaking new ground for youth in the Methodist Church

Young people are on the verge of becoming empowered by ground-breaking changes that will be the talk of this year’s Methodist Youth Conference.

Around 150 16 to 23-year-olds will celebrate the launch of the £4 million Youth Participation Strategy (YPS) at Kings Park Conference Centre in Northampton from November 21 to 23. YPS was conceived by Youth Conference and will enable young people to become involved in making decisions about the direction of the church on a level never seen before.

The strategy will see 32 young people employed in new, part-time salaried posts as District Youth Enablers across the Methodist Church in Britain and one young person employed in a full-time salaried post as Youth President. This is the first time salaried positions have been specifically targeted at the 16 to 23-year-olds in order that young people help guide the direction of the church.

The Youth Conference, which came into being in 1995, will elect the Youth President who will be tasked with being a representative and spokesperson for young people in the church. Chair of the Youth Conference, Sarah Malik, 20, said: “This is the first stepping stone of the YPS with young people actually participating in the Methodist Church. With the new system, there will be lots of support in place to help young people who want to make a difference.”

President Brian Caveney, 23, said: “Within this next year there will be changes to the whole Connexion as to how young people can get involved on every level. That is all down to YPS and it is exciting. I think when it gets going fully in September 2009 it will be very empowering for young people.”

Youth violence will also be a returning item on the Youth Conference’s agenda. At The Methodist Church Conference in Scarborough in July 2008, members accepted the Youth Conference Resolution to investigate how local churches could address the issues that lead to violence among young people, including knife crime.

In response to this, members from the existing Youth Executive, the Association of Black Methodist Youth and three young people elected by Youth Conference will form part of a group who will take this resolution forward.

There are still a few places left for young people wanting to attend Methodist Youth Conference. To book, check out

Source: Methodist News service 10/11/2008

This is wonderful news and is long overdue. I have been longing to see an injection of the drive and enthusiasm of youth into the decision-making and direction of our Methodist Church and this new initiative will have all the backing that I am able to give it. As I have recently written on this blog, I firmly believe that the best way forward for a healthy, vibrant church is for all age groups to be working together and encouraging each other. May God bless both the Youth Conference and the Youth Participation Strategy.


It has been ‘a large response’ of a different kind for Billy Graham. People whose lives had been impacted by his ministry were invited to send personal stories and birthday greetings – for the man who helped them find God has turned 90. Now their many testimonies are being compiled into books, to be presented to the famous preacher at a tribute dinner later this month. ‘Nothing could uplift him more on this special day,’ said his son Franklin. His father has been preaching for more than 60 years, addressing an estimated 215 million people. Dr Graham has had Parkinson’s disease for the past 15 years and is very frail. But his mind is still alert, according to longtime British colleague Maurice Rowlandson.

Source: Church Times (7/11).

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Reading Single Homeless Project

i have just returned from our annual Autumn Fair, which this year was in aid of the Reading Single Homeless Project. We don't know the full amount raised yet because there are sums to be added yet, like donations and the money raised from the 'Host a meal' events held in the run-up to the Fair, but today we have taken just over £1,100, which should help the cause considerably.

Amongst other things, I bought a centenary mug, a special assignment being sold in advance of our Centenary next year (and all next year, of course), and also a beautiful doll for my litle great-granddaughter, Loiusa, for her Christmas present. Then I had a satisfying lunch to the accompaniment of interesting conversation before returning home.

Reading Single Homeless Project (RSHP) is dedicated to ending social exclusion caused by homelessness. RSHP is determined to provide the standard of housing and support needed to enable its clients to achieve their full potential in life. RSHP houses people who live alone, and who are in need of housing because:
• they can't live in their current accommodation anymore
• they need supported accomodation
• they have nowhere to live.

In alternate years, we choose overseas or home projects, so that next year we shall be on the lookout for a suitable overseas project to support. We are in the fortunate position that we do not need to organise fund-raising events for our own church here.


Amid economic uncertainty, the ‘kingdom values’ of the Christian Socialist Movement have never been more crucial – says well-known musician Andy Flannagan, who is new head of CSM. ‘There is a passion stirring across the UK to partner with God in seeking justice, both locally and globally,’ he added. Flannagan, who’s been serving as Youth for Christ’s singer-songwriter, takes over from CSM’s current director Andrew Bradstock in January 2009. Church Army chief Mark Russell welcomed the move. ‘Since our school days in Northern Ireland I have known the remarkable gifts God has given Andy,’ he said. ‘His passion for engaging with the political structure – and his conviction in a God of justice – make this an inspired appointment.’

Source: Church Army Online (5/11).

Friday, 7 November 2008

Giving up at 80???

What a shock it has been in these last few weeks to find that my blogging has become the subject of publicity, first in the local newspaper, the Henley Standard, and then in the United Methodist Reporter! When the Henley Standard reporter phoned to ask if he come to interview me and I asked 'What for?', he said 'My colleague says that you're 87 and that you do blogging.' I tried to wriggle out of it, but he had me in a corner because he is the best reporter for publishing anything I send out in my job as Media Publicity Director for my church. So I have to keep him sweet! Then he went and repaid me by publishing a large photo under a huge headline that read 'Olive the Blogger - at 87!' Fortunately, its readers are mainly in Henley with a growing number in Caversham and Sonning Common, but it doesn't yet sell too many copies in Reading or the rest of the Circuit, so I can still pretend to be younger in some places!

The managing editor of the UM Reporter asks why it should be assumed that activities such as blogging would not be undertaken by people over 80 and I was so glad to read that comment. Most of my contemporaries give up everything when they reach the age of 80, saying that they have done their stint and it's up to the younger ones to do everything now. Well, they don't give up altogether, but confine themselves to coffee mornings and gentle support of whatever is going on. (Actually, there are many much younger people who are afraid to try the computer, believing that it will be beyond their capabilities - but how do they know if they never try it?)

While it is wrong for elderly people to keep doing work that younger folk are eager to do just because they have gained expertise in that direction, there is plenty of work (and a great variety of work) that can and should be done by older people to help bring in the Kingdom. The healthiest and most vibrant churches are surely the ones where everyone plays their part, with a good mix of all age groups working together and encouraging each other.

Some weeks ago, one of my blogging friends asked if I'd given any thought about what to call my blog when it was no longer appropriate! I hadn't thought of it at all, but I opened it up for suggestions and someone suggested that I should call it 'Olive Branches'. That's a good name and I was drawn to it. In fact, I considered changing it there and then, but now i am of the opinion that it would be best to leave it as it is until 2010 or 2011 (if God grants me that long) so that it might just possibly encourage other octogenarians to become bloggers.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Peacemaking for Remembrance Sunday

The Methodist Church is encouraging services for Remembrance Sunday to reflect on the call to be peacemakers.

This year marks 90 years since the end of the First World War - the war to end all wars. It is a fitting tribute to those who have died that The Church honours their memory and continues to work for peace and justice

Karen Burke
Media Officer
Methodist Church House
25 Marylebone Road
Tel: 0207 467 5208
Fax: 0207 467 5229

Church calls for wider debate on NHS following Government “top-up” decision.

· More questions than answers following NHS top-ups decision.

The Methodist Church has responded to the Government’s announcements to allow National Health Service patients to buy extra medical treatment not available on the NHS with a call for clarity and a wider debate about the principles and values of a universal health system.

The NHS has an enviable history of providing state of the art healthcare to all, free at the point of delivery, and regardless of gender, race, age or ability to pay.

The decision by the Government raises new questions about equality and fairness.

Paul Morrison, Public Issues Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church, said: ‘While this announcement is welcome news for some, it increases the potential of developing a two-tier healthcare system in the UK. I am concerned that without Government commitment and vigilance we will wake up some day in the future in a country with a first class health care system for those who can afford it and an economy class system for those who can’t.

‘This decision may lead to challenging ethical questions within our Churches and wider communities. Drugs such as Donepezil are not available to NHS patients with early stage Alzheimer’s disease. How do we react to two people sitting on the pew next to each other both wanting this treatment, but only one is able to afford it? This raises huge ethical questions for individuals, church communities and society as a whole.’

Source: Methodist News Service 5/11/08

Christmas comes too early! ???

I am one of the many people who complain each year that Christmas comes too early in our shops and high streets, but this year I am having second thoughts! Today is the deadline for submission for the December edition of our local ecumenical newspaper entitled 'Caversham Bridge' of details of all our various Christian events and services to be held in the Christmas period.

So, as the Media Publicity Director, I have spent this last week contacting those responsible for organising such events and services in our two Methodist churches in Caversham. It was still October when I received the email requesting the information and it came as a shock to me, as well as some of those whom I contacted, making them spring into action to make vague dreams become realities. This makes me realise that we definitely do need early planning if our message is to come across as interesting, challenging and clear.

What I have now submitted for publication is an exciting variety of events that should appeal to a wide variety of people and age groups. One church (near to a relatively new housing estate) has planned two evenings of 'Rock Nativity' by the Masquerade Players, a morning Children's Christmas Service and evening Carol Service on the Sunday before Christmas, a 'Crafty Christmas' craft event for children aged 8 - 11 years on the Monday afternoon, a Pram Service followed by lunch on the Tuesday morning, with 'Carols round the Crib - a Teddy Bear's Picnic' followed by refreshments on the afternoon of Christmas Eve and the Family Christmas Service on Christmas morning.

The other church, with fewer children and young people, will host the annual Christmas Carol Service for the British Polio Fellowship, a Toy/Gift Service on December 14th when toys and gifts are donated for the local charity Christian Community Action which serves any who are in need in a large area (with shops and drop-in centres right across town), a Service of Holy communion in the morning and a Special Nativity Service for young children in the afternoon of December 21st, the annual Midnight Communion Service on Christmas Eve, with a Family Christmas Service on Christams Day and a Carol Service on December 28th.

As I have said, all these services and events need careful planning well ahead of time if they are to succeed. So why do we moan about our shops using similar strategy? This year in particular many families are having to beat the credit crunch by buying their gifts and food gradually, well ahead of other years, to avoid disappointing their families - children in particular. So I am wondering whether, instead of being irritated by the jingle bells ringing too early in our shops we ought perhaps to be using this time to talk about the coming of Jesus and why it is so important to us - and to those who have never heard of or considered His coming very much?

If nothing else, please can we spare time to pray for all those who are preparing services and events to spread the Good News of Jesus, and for all who will feel the effects of the credit sqeeze most keenly this Christmas.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Cyberspace Seniors, enjoying the benefits of being online

Quite out of the blue, I recently received an email asking me if I would be prepared to answer a few questions about my blogging for an article being written for the United Methodist Recorder, which I imagine to be the American equivalent of our Methodist Recorder. I was also asked if I had a photograph for the article.

Today I have had a message saying "The story is now posted on the Reporter's website: " Not only do I find myself to be quite prominent in the article, which even begins with my name, but my photo is embarrassingly large, too. It is not as if my blog is as intresting as it was in its Modblog days when its comments were filled with the vibrance of youth, with its laughter and tears. I am still missing all those young bloggers who took me to their hearts and turned my blogging into a real ministry. It was a real privilege to be a part of their hopes and dreams and fears - something that I shall treasure always.

With my current blogging, I have made many (mainly Methodist) friends and even met some of them at a bloggers' day or conference, but there is something lacking! We are predominantly people of similar interests and faith and there are few visitors from out there in Cyberspace who have never even heard of Jesus and His church! I want to be in touch with the real cyberspace again where there are people like the 26 year old that a minister doing our disciple course with us last night told us came to her house to do some electrical work and he was completely ignorant of anything to do with the church. He had no idea of what a minister is or what goes on in church. So, I keep asking myself, why don't I switch to Facebook or Beebo? I wish I could define my aversion to these very popular social networks, but it is something intangible. Is it because they seem too public? or too, sort of, commercialised? I don't know yet. I do know that Facebook would take up too much of my time, however interesting and however involved I might get.

I find that I need to discipline myself in my use of time, and especially in blogging and using the Internet, and prioritise in order to achieve all that I feel called or am asked to do. Going online can eat up your time quicker than anything else I know! (For that reason, I recommend it to those who are lonely or live alone, especially in these dark winter evenings.) I keep promising myself to smarten up my blog - with photos, etc, - but so far I have not been able to devote enough time to my blogging. That's interesting! Having written that, I am conscious that if I had still had my young bloggers visiting, I would have MADE the time to do what was necessary to keep their interest! H'mmm.

Saturday, 1 November 2008


Every Roman Catholic worldwide will be urged to have their own Bible and to ‘read and pray’ it. The church’s Synod of Bishops will make the call as 240 bishops conclude their discussions on the role of the Bible in worship and modern life. The synod is expected to publish an eight-page message and to vote on over 50 final propositions. One of these reminds Catholics that the Bible contains the Word of God who speaks to them in the Scriptures. Earlier this week Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Vatican’s ecumenical council, stressed the role of the Bible in working together with other Christians. ‘Nothing else unites the Christian churches and communities like the Bible does," he said.

Sources: The Universe (26/10); (22/10)

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Warning of Worsening Humanitarian Crisis in Zimbabwe

The Methodist Church in Britain is warning that the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe is likely to worsen over the coming months.

Reports from Zimbabwe indicate that famine is set to grip the African country that has been ravaged by six poor harvests and economic collapse. The combination of the worst drought for a decade and bad government policies, along with lack of seeds and fertiliser, are proving disastrous.

The World Food Programme has estimated that 28 per cent of children under five are malnourished and vulnerable to disease. Many rural families only get one meal a day, but food aid stocks are running out. The number of people requiring food aid is expected to rise to around five million, or 45 per cent of the population, by January 2009.

Roy Crowder, Partnership Coordinator for World Church Relationships with special responsibility for Africa, said: ‘The stalemate in negotiations between MDC and Zanu-PF is making the situation even worse. This is a time when people should be planting for the following year, but the economy is devastated and seeds and fertiliser are in short supply. The delay in achieving a viable political agreement threatens to prolong the economic and humanitarian crisis.’

When the ban on aid agencies operating in Zimbabwe was lifted last month, the Methodist Relief and Development Fund launched an appeal to deliver food and agricultural support to vulnerable people in partnership with ACT International.

Roy said: ‘We urge people to support the Methodist Relief and Development Fund appeal because the current crisis is expected to result in catastrophe in the next few months.’

Donations to MRDF’s appeal for Zimbabwe can be made by debit or credit card on 020 7224 4814, or by cheque, payable to “MRDF (Zimbabwe emergency)”, posted to MRDF, Methodist Church House, 25 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5JR.

Taxpayers are encouraged to gift aid their donations where possible, adding a value of 28p to every pound they give, at no extra personal cost."

Source: Methodist News Service 30/10/08

Friday, 24 October 2008


Past Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the Methodist Church in Britain have been asked to play an important part in the church’s re-visioning for the future. Revd Stephen Poxon, President of the Methodist Conference, has invited leaders from two decades to a 24-hour conference in December to contribute to ideas for building ‘a stronger, more faithful, bold and creative church’, the Methodist Recorder reports. Mr Poxon hopes the initiative will provide valuable insights for a two-day gathering in February on ‘Risk and Holiness’, being organised by the church’s General Secretary, Revd Dr Martyn Atkins.

Source: Methodist Recorder (23/10)

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Methodists support those affected by Caribbean hurricanes

Jamaicaa, In August and September hurricanes swept across the Caribbean leaving a trail of destruction in their wake:

Hundreds died in Haiti following floods that left 650,000 people homeless.

The Dominican Republic, one of the poorest countries in the region, suffered hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage to buildings and more than 250,000 people lost their homes.

19 people were killed when Hurricane Ike ripped through Cuba, which normally avoids deaths during hurricanes.

In Puerto Rico, thousands of poorly constructed homes in rural communities were washed away by six weeks of constant torrential rain.

Hurricane Gustav destroyed several rural churches and manses being used as shelters in Jamaica.

The World Mission Group has responded to the devastation with a £26,000 grant.

The Revd Tom Quenet, who works with churches in Latin America and the Caribbean, said, “The need is so vast that it is clear we can’t meet it outright. But this grant from the Fund For World Mission will make a difference and is an expression of our solidarity.

“We would encourage Methodists everywhere to hold the people of the region in their thoughts and prayers.”

Anyone wishing to support the grant should contact -

The Methodist Church Fund for World Mission.
Methodist Church House,
25 Marylebone Road,

Source: Methodist "E" News 22/10/08

Methodists call for the gambling industry to support problem gamblers

The Methodist Church has welcomed yesterday’s Gambling Commission report and its recommendations. The report underlines the responsibility of the gambling industry to provide enough money to help the people who are harmed by gambling.

David Bradwell, Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church in Britain, said; ‘There are around a quarter of a million problem gamblers in the UK. We need more money to make sure that these people receive sufficient support and advice and that vulnerable people don’t develop a problem with gambling.

‘We support the ‘polluter pays’ principle. If not enough money is raised through the current voluntary system, we want to see the Government introducing compulsory payments by gambling businesses.

‘In Britain we are way behind other countries, including Canada, South Africa and New Zealand in terms of dealing adequately with problem gambling. The Government and the Gambling Commission must look again at the international context and find out what more can be done in the UK to help people who are at risk of being exploited by gambling.’

Source: Methodist News Service 22/10/08

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Methodist Church thanks Richard Dawkins for getting God onto London buses

· Dawkins thanked for encouraging a ‘continued interest in God’

The British Methodist Church has welcomed news that Professor Richard Dawkins is to fund an advertising campaign on London buses despite its slogan ‘There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life’.

Revd Jenny Ellis, Spirituality and Discipleship Officer, said; ‘We are grateful to Richard for his continued interest in God and for encouraging people to think about these issues. This campaign will be a good thing if it gets people to engage with the deepest questions of life.’

Responding to Dawkins’ comment that ‘thinking is anathema to religion’, Jenny said; ‘As Christians, we respond to Jesus’ call to love God with our minds as well as our hearts, souls and strength. Christianity is for people who aren’t afraid to think about life and meaning. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism believed that no one should be saved from the trouble of thinking, because that is the path to understanding God.’

Source: Methodist News Service 21/10/08

Monday, 20 October 2008

Join the call for justice for persecuted Christians in India

Concern that authorities are failing to prevent violence and unwilling to protect Christians

People killed for their faith in Orissa and victims still suffering at the hands of religious extremists were remembered in prayer at the Synod of the Church of North India (CNI), in Punjab. Churches are not being permitted to contribute to the relief effort, but people are being urged to pray and join in the call for justice.

The 350 Synod members were visibly moved as they listened to two Christians from Orissa tell of their experiences in one of the 311 villages that have suffered violent attacks from religious extremists.

One victim told how his congregation had been attacked during a service and people were forced to flee into the forest. He had been attacked with an axe and left for dead among the trees. To this day he wonders how or why God saved his life. Although he has had to sell almost all he owned to pay for the medical treatment, he said; ‘I praise God for his mercy. My faith is now stronger than before.’

Concern was expressed at the way the police and authorities are failing to intervene to prevent violence, unwilling to protect Christians and their homes, and being partial in their upholding of law and order.

Christine Elliott, Methodist Secretary for External Relationships has written to the Indian Prime Minister, asking him to assure the British Methodist Church that the religious rights of all Indians will be protected and that the police and the courts will do all they can to guarantee the personal safety of individuals, families and communities.

The CNI General Secretary, Revd Enos Das Pradhan, expressed gratitude for statements of support from Partner Churches - including the British Methodist Church – and noted that the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, had been forced to acknowledge the communal violence against individuals because of their faith as ‘a national shame’.

‘The immediate need is for emergency relief for those who are homeless or hiding in the forests and to bring an end to violence and threats’, said Revd Das Pradhan, adding, ‘Religious tolerance has been the basic tenet and hallmark of India’s ancient civilization and history. We condemn all religious violence.’

After discussion with CNI Synod Officers, Partnership Coordinator with responsibility for India Steve Pearce said; ‘Although no Church is allowed to be part of the current relief effort, I know British Methodists will be keen to help the affected Christian communities rebuild their lives and we will launch an appeal when the time is right. Meanwhile, I encourage everyone to pray for peace and to add their voice to the call for justice by writing to the Prime Minister of India and the High Commissioner in London.’

Source: Methodist News Service 20/10/08

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Operations by Robot Surgeon!

“A new £1 million robot that will change the face of surgical procedures has arrived at the Royal Berkshire Hospital", announced my local newspaper, the Reading Evening Post!

The report continues, “The futuristic machine, named the ‘da Vinci’, arrived in 5 boxes, each weighing as much as half a ton. It will be used for urology, gynaecology and ear, nose and throat surgery before being rolled out elsewhere.

“Using the robot will allow surgeons to perform operations that can create a smaller incision as well as offering a more precise tool for complicated operations. A less invasive procedure means a shorter stay in hospital and quicker recovery.

“The da Vinci Surgical System is a robot with four arms. Three of them hold objects that act as tools, such as a scalpel or scissors and other operating instruments, and the fourth arm is for a camera with two lenses that gives the surgeon full stereoscopic vision from the console.

“The surgeon is seated at a set of controls and looks through two eye holes at a 3D image of the procedure, while manoeuvring the arms with two foot pedals and two hand controllers.

“Announcing the investment of the robot, that has cost the Trust just over £1 million, Colin Maclean, chairman of the Trust, told the governors’ meeting ‘We are investing and have invested in robot technology. This is part of the future that will allow surgeons to go in through smaller holes, cause less damage and allow the patient to leave hospital quicker. It has cost us an awful lot of money and although we started to look into this technology for the urology department, it will be used for other services as well.’

“Hospital staff are already being trained to use the robot and the first procedure is expected to take place at the beginning of November.”

“Peter Ryan, manager of the Reading & District Hospitals Charity, said, ‘At present this exciting equipment is being leased by the trust but we would welcome donations from the public, companies and other organisations in the area to help us buy the robot so as many people as possible can benefit from it in the future.’

“If anyone would like to help, they should send their donations, with a request that the money be used for robotic surgical equipment, to-
Reading & District Hospitals Charity,
The Appeal Office,
Royal Berkshire hospital,

“Cheques should be made payable to the Reading and District Hospitals Charity.”

Source: Reading Evening Post 03/10/08

New web resource for churches working together for change

The Methodist Church in Britain has launched a new web resource offering information and guidance about how different Christian denominations work together to serve their communities.

The web pages offer a variety of information, from a basic introduction to ecumenical work to more detailed practical guidance about how to get involved. It explores the practical elements of how churches work together in unity and offers some background information for those new to the issues.

Chris Sissons, based at the Methodist Resourcing Mission Office in Manchester, said; ‘When churches work together, sharing their vision and resources, it benefits entire communities all over the world. This is about owning and developing the work that all churches do at local, national and international levels. We want to demystify ecumenism and encourage people to find out what’s going from their locality to churches internationally and get involved.’

The pages also have links to resources and training courses for those wanting to explore possibilities further, as well as regional information for churches in England, Wales and Scotland.

For more information, visit

Sourse: Methodist news Service 15/10/08