Thursday, 31 July 2008

Coronation of King George Tupou V of Tonga

Hundreds of dignitaries are arriving in Tonga to see King George Tupou V enthroned in a Christian ceremony on Friday. The king, 60, was given roasted pig and kava, a mild narcotic drink, to mark his coronation in a traditional ceremony on Wednesday.

On Tonga's main island, Tongatapu, buildings and fences are decorated in bunting in the national colours, red and white. Hundreds of banners congratulating the king have been hung across roads.

Royals arrive

Thousands of visitors arrived in Tonga on Thursday, ahead of the main event on Friday. Villagers presented the king with dozens of roast pigs.

These visitors included overseas Tongans and hundreds of dignitaries, including other royals such as Britain's Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Crown Prince of Japan and Princess Sirindhorn of Thailand. There will also be many South Pacific royals.

Prime Minister Sevele defended the lavish nature of the celebrations, saying they were part of Tongan custom in Polynesia's last remaining monarchy. Officials also pointed out that guests were likely to spend large amounts of money during their stay.

Source: BBC News

The recently inducted President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Stephen Poxon,
is among the special guests now in Tonga, where the Methodist Church is strong, for the King's coronation. We will be eagerly looking forward to reading about it all both in his blog and in the Methodist Recorder.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

NHS 60th Birthday Celebration

As a member of the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, I was invited to a special celebration for the 60th Birthday of the NHS, which included a Medical Museum Tour and a Presentation Seminar. It was particularly appropriate for me, since it is exactly 60 years that I have been a patient at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, beginning with the birth of my children.

The Medical Museum was fascinating in itself but it was brought back to life by the expert descriptions provided us by Dr. Marshall Barr, Chairman of the Berkshire Medical Heritage Centre. The main point of interest for most of us was the huge iron lung in which patients of former years had to spend weeks, months, even years! (My nephew up in Newcastle confirmed this, when I told him, because in his youth he had played his guitar to a man who had been in an iron lung for years in his front room. The iron lung took up almost all the room.)

Dr. Barr explained how the nurses looked through the glass in the top to see how the patient was and he demonstrated how they used three ‘port-holes’ in the side of the iron lung to attend to the patient, who was on a stretcher so that they could slide him out for toilet purposes! It was not much of a life, and we were very thankful for the way in which science and medical practice has evolved, making modern treatment so much more comfortable and successful.

Another object of interest (that made a few people shudder!) was a very ancient dentist’s chair! There was an ancient test card for colour blindness and Dr. Barr told us that men are more often colour blind than women! Then I heard someone near me suddenly gasp, ‘Are they really as big as that?’ She had found two gallstones in a glass case - and they were big!

After scrumptious refreshments, we went into the nurses’ lecture hall for the power point presentation. First, Dr. Barr took us through the history of the Royal Berks. Trust, from 1839 when a nurse’s wages were £12 per annum plus board lodging, to 1890when Battle Hospital was both a workhouse and a hospital caring for 'paupers, tramps, hospital patients and imbeciles'), to the Second World War (and the treatment of Douglas Bader after his horrific crash), up to the present modern hospital that has been built on to the old hospital to accommodate all the patients from Battle Hospital, on the site of which our Emmanuel Methodist Church has been built.

Then Mr. Colin Maclean, Chair of the Royal Berks. NHS Foundation Trust, spoke of the future – for the next 60 years – listing the demographic changes of an ageing population, falling birth rate, increased immigration, personal behaviour changes and globalisation (including global warming). These have resulted in changes in disease, technology change (biotechnology, IT advances, and robots-surgery), and new treatments (for cancer, baldness, smoking, obesity, replacement of heart valves, kidneys and joints), and the use of stem cells.

With increased life expectancy, the public now expects better chronic disease care, care closer to home, and better prevention of illness. The hospital is only 60 per cent rebuilt and more building is needed for its specialities and for it to, perhaps, become a centre for telemedicine. But is all this affordable? It will need an extra 6 to 16 billion pounds in 2020! Right now the Trust is running well and is ‘the most successful Trust in the South Central Health Authority.

The Medical Museum is open to the public on alternate Sunday afternoons from 2- 4pm, and, if you are able to visit it, you will find it very interesting indeed.

Friday, 25 July 2008


The Prime Minister has backed a march by over 600 Anglican bishops which urged world leaders to meet their pledges to halve global poverty by 2015. Hundreds of other faith leaders, parliamentarians and charity workers joined the demonstration calling the international community to honour the millennium development goals. The Archbishop of Canterbury handed Gordon Brown a letter which said that a timetable for achieving the poverty reduction target set in 2000 needed to be agreed by leaders meeting in September or the goals would not be met. Addressing the demonstration, Mr Brown said the march was one of Britain's ‘greatest public demonstrations of faith'.

Sources: The Guardian (24/7); The Times (24/7)

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Liturgy and Family Worship

I am grateful to Sally on 'Eternal Echoes' for bringing us a U Tube vieo message from NT Wright of Westminster Abbey, in which he describes the value of several services a day there. This comes at a time when I have just lost my fight to maintain some kind of fellowship/worship on Sunday evenings during the 6 weeks of the school holidays. He speaks of the hunger that many people have today and the way in which liturgy can meet their need. He is also encouraging families to engage in family worship, even in these times when families go off in different directions each day. Go over to 'eternal Echoes' and listen to this refreshing message.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Prayers for President and Vice-President.

Our new President and Vice-President are now continuing to blog as their predecessors did and the President, the Revd Stephen Poxon, asks for our prayers for our Anglican friends who have had such difficult issues to deal with in the Lambeth Conference.

We will also need to pray for the President as he sets off to visit the Methodists in New Zealand and then goes on to Tonga for the coronation of their new king! He invites us to watch the Presidential blog for details of these interesting, exciting and (no doubt) inspiring overseas visits, which I will eagerly await.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

All Change!

It's that time of year again when Methodist Ministers need extra prayer support - something that we ordinary mortals tend to forget.

For some Ministers it is the end of four years of ministry in their present station and the decision must be made as to whether they stay on for a further period at the end of their five years' ministry there. First, the Minister him(her)self must deside whether to ask to stay on, and then the church and Circuit have to vote whether to invite them for another three or five years. This can be unsettling even if the outcome is a positive invitation to stay but, if it is negative, there is a need for extra love and prayer support for the Minister in that final year.

It is also the time of year when our Ministers are preparing to move to new stations and again need our prayer support for the upheaval of moving, for the saying of Goodbye to well-loved people and places and for establishing themselves in their new situation.

A change of manse can be quite a challenge, as Richard describes over on Connexions! Not being a gardener, he has been tackling a rather overgrown garden in readiness for the next occupant of the manse. His congregation will no doubt be curious to know what his successor does with the garden. This can often be very interesting!

Our previous minister did away with the small lawn in the manse front garden and replaced it with exotic plants, with great energy and (no doubt) expense, so that it was very beautiful and a joy to behold.

Imagine, then, the surprise of our congregation when our present minister arrived and we found an invitation in the weekly Notice leaflet to all and sundry to come and help themselves to the plants in the manse front garden! You see, this minister and his wife arrived with two large golden retrievers who needed SPACE! So the manse front garden was paved over, with only periferal plants. I'm afraid this caused distress to our previous minister when she heard of it, but she can take comfort in the fact that many of us now have plants in our gardens that remind us of her constantly. We now have a very tidy and easily maintained manse front garden, which doesn't need to take up the minister's valuable time to keep it in good order.

The joy of our Methodist itinerant system is that our ministers are so very different and bring their own special gifts and preferences with them!

Friday, 18 July 2008

A John Wesley Descendant!

I'm almost at the end of sorting myself out after being in Scarborough for Conference, including getting my computer to deliver my e-mails, so I hope to be writing interesting posts again soon.

However, I just have to tell you all about the surprising news that reached me this morning in an e-mail updating me about my great-niece's wedding in Sunderland on 5th September. This is what came in the middle of all the stuff about hymns and dresses and flowers and house decorating -

"I was in Scarborough on July 5th-6th for my friends hen night I wished I had known you were going I could have arranged to meet up with you. Where you in Scarborough during those dates?

"Have I mentioned that I am marrying Neal whose surname is Wesley and that he is a descendant of John Wesley?? His grandmother still has one of John Wesley’s original prayer books – clearly this should be in a museum. My mum really liked the idea I was marrying a descendant of the founder of the Methodist Church. Did you enjoy the conference? It would be lovely if we could all get together in September."

I had previously only known the bridegroom as 'Neal' so this was a surprise! It will cost extra to talk to me after 5th September when we have a descendant of John Wesley in the family!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

New name?

Over on Connexions Richard Hall highlighted the death of the oldest blogger at 101 and Kim commented "God at his computer (pace Larson): Cut (on earth), paste (to heaven)". Then Dave Warnock came up with a startling question for me - "Have you thought about what to call your blog when it is no longer appropriate?" I certainly hadn't! The years are flashing by with astonishing speed, so I will have to find a different name before long. All suggestions will be welcome.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

My blocked Inbox

Since my return from Conference in Scarborough, I've been unable to access any of my incoming mail, despite all my efforts to rectify this, so if any of you reading this have sent me an e-mail message please understand that I am unable to reply until I can read your message! It is very frustrating and my attempts to solve the problem are taking up all my spare time at present - just when I was hoping to report my experiences at the Wycliffe Associates Annual Conference and the Methodist Conference. This week should have been a week of ample free time to catch up on things and search out old photos and newspaper cuttings to give to the archivist who is writing a book of the history of our church for our Centenary next year. I'm tearing my hair!

Monday, 14 July 2008


A bid to make the church ‘more relevant’ in its local neighbourhood is being launched by Care for the Family. Called Engage, the campaign is encouraging churches to get to grips with community and family issues on their doorsteps. The initiative has won the backing of church leaders including the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, Jonathan Edwards of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, and the Salvation Army’s Major Paul Main. Engage takes place in Nottingham and Cheltenham this autumn, aimed at providing leaders and congregations with effective ways to reach out to those who usually have little or no contact with church. Care for the Family’s Head of Church Relations, Richard Hardy said, ‘...I’m convinced our failure to address real life issues is the root cause of the Church’s marginalisation in our society.’

Source: Christianity Today (2/7)


A rallying call for the British public to join together to ‘restore’ Zimbabwe has been made by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu. He appealed to people to ‘work with me in order that peace, prosperity and the rule of law’ could be restored to a country facing economic, political and social turmoil. Dr Sentamu’s plea for public support of ‘Restore-Zim’ came as he announced a special service for the people of Zimbabwe at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster, on Friday 11 July. Urging people to offer prayer, money and practical support, he said, ‘We need to remember there is only one race - the human race - and in joining together to restore Zimbabwe we ease the sufferings of our brothers and sisters.’

Source: Christian Today (2/7)

Saturday, 12 July 2008


From army chaplaincy to nightclub ministry to Bible study in the pub - the Church of England is preparing to show college leavers the depth and breadth of ordained ministry in an attempt to recruit more young people. A new national campaign Call Waiting will be launched at the General Synod this weekend in response to the steadily declining number of under-30s - just 88 out of 595 people in 2007 - recommended for training. The campaign will use a website, posters and magazine to chronicle the journey from the initial sense of calling through to training and ministry, sharing joys, thoughts and worries along the way.

Sources: Telegraph (2/7), Christian Today (3/7)

Friday, 11 July 2008

Methodist Conference 2008 Roundup

10 July, 2008

Methodist Conference 2008 Roundup

The Methodist Conference met from 5-10 July in Scarborough. Revd Stephen Poxon was inducted at President of the Conference, and Mr. David Walton as Vice President. Conference also ordained 55 new Methodist ministers (50 Presbyters and five Deacons).

Conference addressed a number of contemporary issues, including knife crime, Burma, Zimbabwe, stem cell research and abortion.

Time was spent looking at the Youth Participation Strategy (YPS), a major new initiative aimed at increasing the involvement of people aged 16-23 in the running of the Church both nationally and locally. The YPS will see an investment of more than £4 million over the next five years. The Youth Conference also brought its concerns, including knife crime, Burma and the pressures on young people combining church activities with further education or work.

Conference also committed the Church to fresh ways of expressing its mission. The successful Fresh Expressions scheme, a joint venture with the Church of England, has been renewed by both churches for a further five years. The Methodist Conference also gave its support to a new Pioneer Ministries scheme, in which the Church will invest over £4 million to establish new congregations across the country, aimed especially at young adults and those who have had no prior contact with any form of church.

Conference received a major report on early human life, looking at issues such as stem cell research, fertility treatments and abortion. The report offers guidance on how to approach these complex and often highly personal topics. It also recognises that attempts to respond to particular medical developments can easily be quickly out of date as the technology moves on. Conference has commended for study the report which says that embryos should not be created solely for the purpose of research, but that it is acceptable for embryos created during fertility treatments to be used for research. The Conference also voted to review the Church’s current stance on abortion.

Conference affirmed the Covenant with the Church of England, signed in 2003, and supported the creation of a new body to continue the work of implementing it. This new body will for the first time include representation from the Church in Wales and the Scottish Episcopal Church, in recognition that the Methodist Church serves all of Great Britain. The United Reformed Church will also be invited to continue to participate. Conference offered prayer and support to the Church of England’s General Synod (meeting almost simultaneously in York) as it addressed major issues.

For the first time, live video of Conference proceedings was broadcast via the Conference website, and a video archive is also available. Live audio was also broadcast in partnership with Premier Christian Radio. Conference also elected its President and Vice-President for 2009-10. The Revd David Gamble were designated to serve as President and Dr Richard Vautrey as Vice President at next year’s Conference.


For more information about the Methodist Conference visit
For information about the Church’s current stance on abortion visit

Plight of the Burmese People and Investigating Causes of Knife Crime

10 July, 2008

Methodist Conference backs Youth Conference resolutions

Knife crime, Burma and the pressures on young people on the agenda
Conference also to discuss wide-ranging Youth Participation Strategy

The Methodist Conference, meeting in Scarborough, has endorsed a number of resolutions brought by the Youth Conference. Amongst other things, these call on the Church to campaign to highlight the plight of the Burmese people, and to investigate how local churches can address the issues that lead to violence among young people, including knife crime.

Other Youth Conference resolutions passed by the main Conference called for more Bibles to be available to give away to new Christians, and to recognise the pressures on young people undertaking local preacher training, especially when combined with other educational commitments.

Four Youth Conference representatives are in Scarborough as full voting members of the Methodist Conference, which is just one part of the Church’s ongoing and increasing commitment to involving young people at the very heart of decision-making. Another expression of this is the Youth Participation Strategy that Conference was agreed on Wednesday. This will be a multi-year investment in involving a network of young people in many aspects of Church life.

Sarah Tomes, a Youth Conference representative at Scarborough, said “these are things that are very important to us, and it means a lot to have Conference’s support. Some people say that young people are the future of the Church, but we are part of it and have lot to offer right now.”


1) The full texts of the Youth Conference report and the Youth Participation Strategy report are available here:

2) The Youth Conference met in Cardiff Bay on 16-18 November 2007 under the theme of “Let My People Go!”

Church to Make Major Investment in Youth Engagement

9 July, 2008

Church to make major investment in youth engagement

The Methodist Conference has agreed to invest more than £4 million in a major initiative to develop and enhance the participation of young people in the life of the Church.

The Church’s Youth Participation Strategy is a five-year initiative involving a specialist team of youth workers and young people employed to address how the Church engages with youth culture on local and national levels. Each Methodist district will receive a grant for the part-time employment of a young person aged 16-23. For most of their time these Youth Enablers will work within their district, but a proportion of their time will be used for national initiatives. Each year every district will take on a new ‘Mission Possible’ project proposed by young people and designed to put the Gospel into action in local communities.

Mike Seaton, Under 19’s Team Leader for the Church, says; ‘Young people need to be empowered to live as Christians, to witness to their peers and to participate as equals in the Church. Participation is all about involvement – it can be anything from providing opinions to setting agendas and decision making. In adopting this report, the Church is making a huge investment for future engagement with young people and youth culture. This decision demonstrates that the Church is serious about bringing youth participation into the heart of the life of the Church.’

District Youth Enablers will be supported by Connexional Participation Workers and seven full-time Regional Participation Workers (five in England and one each in Scotland and Wales).

Conference received the report and endorsed its recommendations. The pilot project will begin in September with an ongoing programme of monitoring and evaluation with a full report in 2011.

Methodist Conference: President Designate and Vice-President Designate

9 July, 2008

Methodist Conference elects new President and Vice President Designate

The Revd David Gamble has been elected President Designate of the Methodist Conference for 2009-2010, and Dr Richard Vautrey has been elected Vice President Designate.

David is currently Coordinating Secretary for Legal and Constitutional Practice handling issues ranging from discipline to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults. He served as a minister in two North Yorkshire Circuits, Tadcaster and York (South), before becoming Children’s Secretary for the Division of Education and Youth and then General Secretary for the Division. He has also been the Church’s Secretary for Pastoral Care and Personal Relationships addressing family concerns such as divorce and domestic violence.

David’s vision is of a church that is outward looking, engaged in wider society, willing to challenge injustice wherever it occurs, passionately committed to those who are or feel excluded. David says; ‘I feel honoured to be elected for this role and hope to help the Church to answer the questions the people are asking about issues that matter to them in all areas of life. The Church has to respond to peoples' needs and concerns if we are ever to speak truth in a mixed-up world’.

Richard Vautrey is a GP in Leeds and the Deputy Chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee with extensive media experience. He is a medical advisor for the Connexional Team and has served as a mission partner in Nigeria. He believes that there is a need for the church to get better at communicating the gospel message in ways that all can understand.

Richard says; ‘It is a great privilege to be elected by the Conference to serve the Church in this way. I believe the Church has a key role in publicly challenging matters of injustice and inequality, as well as leading the debate on modern ethical questions. I am also passionate about the vital role that volunteers and lay people play in the Church and as Vice President I will be seeking to address how we can better empower and equip lay people for leadership roles in the Church’

David and Richard will be inducted as President and Vice President as the first items of business at the 2009 Methodist Conference, which will meet in Wolverhampton from July 2-9.



For more information about the Methodist Conference visit

Methodist Conference Votes to Review Position on Aborton

9 July, 2008

Methodist Conference votes to review position on abortion

A major report on abortion, assisted reproductive technologies and stem cell research has been received by the Methodist Conference. The report, Created in God’s Image, also discusses embryo screening and egg and sperm donation. The report was jointly produced by the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church.

Created in God’s Image looks at the ethical and theological issues raised by these technologies, and aims to give church members a useful framework for discussing them, and other breakthroughs yet to come.

Conference also voted that the Methodist Council should form a group to revise its position on abortion, which was last reviewed in 1976. Since then, medical advances have changed the ethical landscape, especially the discussion of the 24-week limit for abortions.

Anthea Cox, Methodist Coordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice, says “these are all difficult and confusing areas for ordinary people, yet also potentially exciting for those who might benefit from them. This report helps us to discuss and understand them better. Many people hold deeply held views on early human life, and we need to ensure that we do not compromise our core values in pursuit of medical developments. Modern medical technologies promise great things, and we need to make sure that we as Christians are able to have fully informed discussions on the ethical dimensions of these.”



1) A summary of the current Methodist position on abortion can be found here:

Methodist Conference Equalities and Diversity Report

9 July, 2008

First major equalities and diversity report presented to Methodist Conference

The Methodist Conference has received a major report challenging the Church to eliminate discrimination in an increasingly diverse Christian community.

This report is the result of a project initiated in 2004 by the Conference and carried out by the Equalities and Diversity Project, a representative group including members who have experienced oppression due to race, gender, sexuality and disability. The report shows the journey the Church has taken in considering these issues since 2004 and indicates the direction of future developments.

The report was presented for exploration by the wider Church, offering an opportunity for the Church to engage in its first comprehensive dialogue about the broad agenda of equalities and diversity. It addresses the many different kinds of discrimination faced by groups both with the churches but also in wider society including, sexism, racism, disablism and homophobia. It also outlines some of the stories that people in these situations have shared with the group. The stories will be collected into a series of booklets to accompany a further report in 2009.

Alison Parker, Equalities and Diversity Project Worker for the Methodist Church, says; ‘This is a major step on the road to creating a more inclusive, welcoming and credible Church. The Church as the Body of Christ is an expression of unity in the great variety of God’s creation. This report has offered a challenging and exciting opportunity to hear the voices of the marginalised and those working for change in the Church.’

The report identifies areas for further work on equalities and diversity in the Church including a theological exploration of the issues and the formulation of an equal opportunities policy for adoption by the Church in 2009.

Conference received the report and commended Equally Different?, a new equalities and diversity campaign resource for use in local churches, circuits and districts. This includes worship and Bible study materials for use by individuals and groups, resources for children and young people considering the issues and display materials such as posters and postcards. A supporting website,, also offers the chance for people to share their own experiences and ideas.


1. The Equalities and Diversity report is available online at

2. For more information about Equally Different? visit

Major Report on 5 years of Anglican-Methodist Covenant

8 July, 2008

Major report on five years of the Anglican-Methodist Covenant

Recommendations include extending Covenant talks to Scotland and Wales.

A major report received today by the Methodist Conference addresses the progress made over the last five years of the Anglican-Methodist Covenant.

The Covenant between the Methodist Church in Great Britain and the Church of England was agreed by both churches in the summer of 2003. It was signed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference and the general secretaries of both churches in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen on 1 November that year.

The quinquennial report of the Joint Implementation Commission (JIC) commends the work done so far by the churches to implement the Covenant, and features a number of ‘cameos’ illustrating how the Covenant is being put into action in a variety of contexts. These include a joint Anglican-Methodist primary school in Kent and volunteers from both churches working together to run a night cafĂ© and creative arts centre in Manchester.

The Conference commended the report for further study and endorsed the recommendations, which include appointing a successor body to the JIC for a further five-year period. The scope of this body would extend to involve representatives of the Church in Wales and the Scottish Episcopal Church and from the Methodist Church in Scotland and Wales as well as relating more closely to Ireland where there is already a Covenant between the Methodist Church in Ireland and the Church of Ireland.

Professor Peter Howdle, Co-Chair of the Commission and past Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, says; ‘As the Covenant nears its fifth birthday, this report offers a chance to reflect on a major initiative for unity and mission in the history of our Churches. We have heard so many encouraging stories from those living out the Covenant both in church life and in serving their communities. But it is clear that there is still much to learn and much to do in order to make the journey towards fuller visible unity.’

The report recognises that further work is needed for the Covenant to move forward, particularly in encouraging and resourcing local churches. Expert support and advice is being made available to Bishops and District Chairs wishing to encourage deeper engagement with the Covenant in their area and take up the opportunities it gives for unity in common life and mission.


1. The quinquennial report of the Joint Implementation Commission is available from MPH (

2. For more information about the Covenant, visit

3. The Church of England discussed the report on Monday 7 July at General Synod.

UK Government's failure of Zimbabwean refugees

8 July, 2008

Methodist Church condemns UK Government’s failure of Zimbabwean refugees

The Methodist Conference has condemned the UK government’s failure to care for Zimbabwean refugees and is urging the Government to immediately stop all deportations to Zimbabwe and grant indefinite ‘right to remain’ to Zimbabwean refugees.

The Conference expressed support for all international efforts to bring about a peaceful, sustainable democratic future for Zimbabwe. Kevin Fray, World Church Secretary for Africa, says; ‘We are deeply concerned for the wellbeing of all people. With this in mind, it is right that the Church expresses solidarity with all Zimbabweans at this time.’

Local churches are being invited to contribute to the Fund for World Mission to help the Zimbabwean churches respond to urgent humanitarian needs in the country. The churches have requested funding for a lorry for aid distribution and secure transport of Methodist ministers to their new stations. An initial gift raised by the Conference’s Sunday offering will be sent to support this. Resources will be made available to help Methodist churches in Britain understand the ongoing situation and respond appropriately.

The Conference has also directed that these concerns be brought to the attention of the British Government, United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Southern African Development Community and the African Union.

In 2008 the British Methodist Church has sent solidarity grants totalling more than £70,000 to support humanitarian work in Zimbabwe.

Pioneering Ministries

7 July 2008

Church seeks ‘pioneers’ to reach out to young adults

The Methodist Church has approved a major new initiative designed to reach out to those with no experience of church, especially young adults. The Pioneering Ministries scheme will see the establishment of new Christian communities and congregations in a variety of locations from city centre and suburban areas to more rural settings.

There will initially be twenty new projects, with the first beginning as early as possible in 2009. Each project will be designed to serve the spiritual and practical needs of those who have previously had little or no experience of Church.

Although the projects are envisioned as eventually becoming independent, the scheme will involve a major investment of Church resources and funds, with an initial setup cost of more than £4.3m.

Revd Graham Horsley, Secretary for Evangelism and Church Planting, says; ‘This is clearly a risky strategy, but sometimes the Church is called to take risks. In saying “yes” to pioneer ministries the Church is sacrificing control for the sake of creativity. Rather than setting the agenda for evangelism and mission centrally, Pioneer Ministers will be free to discern the shape of their mission in their particular context. What grows may not look like a traditional “church” but will enable young adults to worship God and be equipped as disciples.’

The Church will seek to recruit as Pioneer Ministers lay and ordained people who demonstrate vision, motivation and the ability to inspire others. They will be offered support and training and will be able to build new, viable independent Christian congregations rooted in the Methodist tradition.

New President's Inaugural Address

You will have gathered that my aim to blog while away at the Methodist Conference didn't work so, now that I have returned, I have much to catch up on.

Very important, and first on the list, is our new President's inaugural address, even if I am a little late in posting it:-


5 July 2008

Inaugural address by Revd Stephen Poxon, new President of the Methodist Conference

The new President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Stephen Poxon, has called on the Church to celebrate God’s grace and transform the world. Speaking on the opening day of the 2008 Methodist Conference in Scarborough, Stephen invited the Church to “begin to grapple with how this wonderful grace of God might transform the world.”

Stephen also spoke passionately on the situation in Zimbabwe: “We look in horror and sorrow at what has been happening in Zimbabwe. How slow as a nation we have been to condemn Mugabe and his regime, and only now are people waking up to the violence and genocide? We must continue to find ways to express our solidarity with all those who struggle for justice, freedom and peace."

Stephen also offered his “thoughts and prayers to our friends in the Anglican communion” on the eve of the Lambeth Conference. The five-year-old Anglican-Methodist Covenant will be discussed by both the Methodist Conference and the Church of England’s General Synod.

In his address, which marks the start of his year of office, Stephen recalled how he and his wife Myrtle arrived as a young couple in Jamaica to work with a church there. He said that the love showed by the people there did much to shape both of them, and gave examples of other acts of extraordinary kindness shown by people who had little or nothing for themselves.

Following the 2007 decision by Sheffield to become the UK’s first “city of sanctuary,” Stephen called for more places to follow that example by recognising “the contribution of asylum seekers and refugees to the city of Sheffield, and committing ‘to offering hospitality to people who come here in need of safety from persecution.’”

Stephen spoke about hospitality as a key example of grace, and expressed regret that the Church has not been more hospitable in the past towards people who moved to Britain. But he celebrated the modern examples of church work with asylum seekers and how Methodist churches are being hospitable to their communities, to children and young people and to other faiths. As Chair of the Methodist North Lancashire District, Stephen has seen many examples of churches working with the large Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities there.

Stephen is married with four children. His wife, Deacon Myrtle Poxon, was Vice President of the Methodist Conference in 2004-5, and they are the first married couple to have held both posts.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

A Blogging Break?

In a couple of hours' time I will be on my way to Scarborough for the Methodist Conference 2008, where I will be in charge of the MET (Methodist Evangelicals Together) stand in the exhibition area. I am hoping that my new mobile phone will allow me to send e-mails and I'm hoping to explore the possibilty of using it for blogging, but I'm not too confident about the blogging yet. It has been a hectic week preparing to go away so I do hope that I can be back with you all while I'm in Scarborough. Whatever happens I will be back in this space at the end of next week.