Friday, 26 September 2008

Action to Avert October Hunger

This is an appeal for Zimbabwe as the aid ban is lifted and nearly 4 million people will go hungry in October if no action is taken

As the ban on aid agencies operating in Zimbabwe is lifted, the Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) is supporting an appeal by ACT International that will deliver food and agricultural support to some of the country’s most vulnerable people.

Over 2 million people were in need of urgent food supplies when the Zimbabwean government ordered all aid agencies to suspend their humanitarian and development work on June 4. The ban only worsened an already desperate situation in a country with growing political instability, 85% of the population out of work and inflation levels that were spiralling out of control.

Amanda Norman, MRDF Supporter Relations Director, said: ‘We might think that the financial situation in Britain is grim, but the economic disaster faced by those in Zimbabwe puts things well and truly into perspective. Millions of Zimbabweans have been caught up in this complex humanitarian crisis and it’s hard to know how to even begin to make a difference. This appeal enables us to work with others to alleviate some of the suffering in the short term, and empower people to begin rebuilding their lives.’

It is estimated that nearly 4 million people could go hungry in October, with this number peaking at 5 million between January and March 2009. Now that the ban has been lifted, many will now be able to access much-needed food supplies.

The appeal through Action by Churches Together (ACT) will distribute monthly food rations of maize, cooking oil and beans to over 26,000 people in some of the most vulnerable communities. Farmers will be able to rebuild their livelihoods thanks to the provision of seeds, fertilisers and training in conservation farming that will help them to guard against the impact of drought.

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.

MRDF makes small miracles possible for people living in the world’s poorest communities. For more information, visit

Source: Methodist Church News Release 26/09/08

Sunday, 21 September 2008

'Under the Tree of Life'

Last Monday, 12 of us - 9 from the Reading and Silchester Circuit and 3 from the Slough Circuit - began the 34-week Disciple 4 study course entitled 'Under the Tree of Life'. There was a buzz of excitement as we old friends from the earlier Disciple courses met together again. After a year off we are ready to get stuck into our studies again and grow in faith and fellowship once more.

This course will concentrate on the Writings - Ruth, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations and Daniel - and, in the New Testament, the Gospel of John, 1,2,3 John, James, Jude, and Revelation. Each week we begin with a video that introduces the week's subject and explains its background, and then we discuss our homework, which comes under 3 headings - Fruit from the Tree of Life, Marks of Faithful Community and The Radical Disciple - and there is extra reading to be done each week.

This week we have an easy introductory week because we are studying the lovely, human story of Ruth, but in the next two weeks we are set the task of studying the 65chapters of Chronicles 1 and 2! So don't be surprised if I find that my time for blogging is very limited. It also coincides with a host of church meetings that expect me to be present and it's the apple-picking season! I have 5 apple trees and, though I will get help with the picking, it takes time for me to sort them out and store them properly.

Questions to be discussed this week include -

What threatens relationships of lovingkindness in families?

How does your experience of faithful community strengthen or weaken your family's cohesiveness?

What determines the effort and/or the sacrifice you are willing to make to maintain connections with extended family?

Identify some of the inconveniences that keep us from including the outsider in our family life?

What actions and attitudes overcome barriers of inconvenience?

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust

Last Saturday, as a member of the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, I was invited to a Membership Open Day tour of three areas of work at the Royal Berkshire Hospital - Renal, Cardiology and Therapies - with a light lunch to follow. These Membership Open Days highlight the Trust's strategy, which is -

"Exceeding our customer and patient's service requirements
Providing more services, in more places, closer to home, for more people
Investing in success so that our services will be in the top 10% nationally
Bringing together key providers to form a viable modern healthcare system
Making sure that people know what we do and why we are the best."

The Trust is based on several Hospital sites -

The Royal Berkshire
Prince Charles Eye Unit - Windsor
Renal Unit - Windsor
West Berkshire Community Hospital
plus community based services e.g., maternity, respiratory, children's services.

The membership catchment area includes Reading and Wokingham, West Berkshire and District, Southern Oxfordshire and East Berkshire and District. Membership input is sought and valued because it helps with -

Market research -
- members have some experience of the organisation
- good geographical coverage to test more local issues
- to reduce risk in decision making

and in generating local interest in local ownership and the role of Governors.

So we began our tour in the renal unit, where it was explained that there are two forms of dialysis to treat kidney failure - Peritoneal Dialysis and Haemodialysis. Peritoneal Dialysis differs from Haemodialysis in the instead of the blood being purified OUTSIDE the body with an artificial kidney, the blood is purified INSIDE the body using the PERITONEUM (the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity) as a natural filter. The abdomen is filled with dialysis fluid via a catheter. The fluid then removes toxins and water from the blood through the peritoneum. The 'dirty' fluid is then drained out and replaced with new, clean fluid for further dialysis. With the equipment we were shown, this dialysis can be caried out at home by the patient. Then we were taken to the bedside of a patient who was undergoing haemodialysis and could see for ourselves how his (toxic) blood was being extarcated and replaced with new, clean blood. This form of dialysis requires regular visits to hospital, when it takes 5 hours to complete the dialysis.
We could see that the patient was happy, although he said that 5 hours was sometimes tedious.

In the cardiology unit another patient acted as 'guinea pig' so that we could be shown how the medical staff can monitor the different sections of the heart, so that abnormalities could be detected and treated. We were also shown the procedure for diagnosing disease by ultra sound, and then we saw an angiogram on screen and how angioplasty (to treat furred arteries) is carried out. One member asked, 'Does it hurt?' and those of us who had had angioplasty were able to assure him that it doesn't!

Lstly, we were shown the kitchen in the therapies unit, which we found to be very interesting indeed. Here there were all kinds of ingenious devices to ensure safety in the kitchen for patients newly-discharged from hospital, some of them with disabilities. For the visually impaired, there is a simple gadget to slip on the lip of your beaker that rings a bell when the water you are pouring into it reaches the right height. I was amazed at the progress that had been made in this section since the days when I was being discharged with my leg in plaster, etc. For instance, in order to be able to cary things when I was using my zimmer frame, I used to hang a net over the front of the zimmer frame. Now they offer patients a specially-designed plastic bowl that fits neatly on the front of the zimmer frame. This is much more accident proof! There were oddly shaped knives for patients who can't grip and use a normal knife and non-slip mats to prevent dishes sliding around on the table. I could go on about this therapeutic kitchen for ages! Then we went into the 'gym' and a member of staff used the 'treadmill' - or should I say 'walking machine' - to show on the screen how the different speeds affect the heart and indicate the degree of abnormality and the treatment required. We were assured that they wouldn't put a 90-year old on this machine!

As one member said to me over lunch, 'The more I learn about the hospital, the more i want to learn'. there is a Theatres seminar on Tuesday 23rd September, a Cancer services departmental tour on Wednesday, ist October and the Annual general Mebers' meeting on Thursday 27th November at Madejski Stadium. The Trust is keen to recruit more members and governors.

Friday, 19 September 2008


As financial districts in London and New York reeled from the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers and the rescue of Merrill Lynch and AIG, local church leaders opened their doors to give pastoral support. Revd Marcus Nodder, Senior Pastor at St Peter’s Barge, a floating church in Canary Wharf, said the congregation was echoing the prayer of Psalm 46, asking that shocked workers would find God to be ‘their refuge and strength’. Docklands chaplain Revd Fiona Stewart-Darling said many would be affected by the crisis ‘and it’s the Church’s job to be there for people’. In New York, Trinity Church, Wall Street is offering daily services and quiet spaces alongside career workshops for those who have lost their jobs.

Source: Church Times (19/9)

My Journey North

I've been longing to write about my trip up North for the wedding in Newcastle of my great-niece to a descendant of John Wesley (and also an exciting few days after that exploring my ancestry - but more of that later). The mother of the bride was my eldest sister's daughter, who died in 1984. I was the fifth in a family of seven!

My journey from Caversham began with a taxi ride that met with all kinds of unusual delays, leaving me with only 6 minutes to catch my train at Reading Station. There, a message was sent to ask the train to wait for my arrival and the porter whisked me quickly to the lift. But there we met another setback. The lift wouldn't come, no matter what the porter did. When it eventually came, it had been loaded up with goods by railway staff and, of course, had to be unloaded before we could get on board. So my train departed, just as I stepped out of the lift on to the platform.

That was a through train, with no changes, and missing it meant that I had to change at Birmingham New Street Station, which is notorious for difficult change-overs. However, the rail staff there, having been alerted of my plight, could not have been kinder or more helpful. I was being met at Newcastle by my nephew (son of my second eldest sister), who also lives in Newcastle, and I was glad that I had my mobile with me to tell him that I would be half-an-hour later than planned. Alas, the jinx on my journey continued when I couldn't get a signal for his mobile phone. Fortunately, he was still waiting for me when my train arrived - to our mutual relief.

My nephew had been a Town Planner for Gateshead before retirement and the first thing he did was to drive me along the quayside, explaining all the bridges and their history and showing me the buildings on the Gateshead side that he had had to deal with at planning stage. As well as the bridges, for which Newcastle is famous, I was most impressed by The Sage, an international home for music and musical discovery, and its extraordinary architecture, enhanced by its reflection in the water of the Tyne. He said he had been concerned that it should not overshadow the nearby church. My nephew then took me to the Travelodge where the bride's mother and aunt and I were to stay the night, ready for the wedding the next day.


‘God talk’ is a rising phenomenon in the annual conference speeches of Britain’s party political leaders, a new survey shows. While religious beliefs play a much smaller part in UK electioneering than in the USA, an analysis by the Theos think tank reveals a steady rise in religious references over the last decade. Researchers found that Labour leaders led the way, making 98 religious references, compared with 65 for the Conservatives and 23 for the Liberal Democrats.

Last year, while referring to ‘the sermons my father preached’, Gordon Brown made 14 religious references while rallying the party faithful. Theos director Paul Woolley said the increase reflects an awareness that ‘Faith groups represent a growing constituency in society’. However, ‘Talking God is not the same as “doing God”’ in terms of ‘governing with justice and mercy,’ he said.

Sources: The Times (14/9); Church Times (19/9)

Monday, 15 September 2008

Cautious welcome for Zimbabwe power-sharing deal

Zanu-PF have reached a ‘point of weakness’

The Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church have welcomed news of the power-sharing deal reached between the Zanu-PF and MDC political parties in Zimbabwe. But they have also expressed concern about the practical realities of the deal.

Roy Crowder, Methodist Partnership Coordinator for Africa, says, ‘Clearly Zanu-PF have reached a point of weakness and cannot continue to run the country alone, possibly because their funding has run out and they can no longer afford to control the security forces. Both parties are strong in different ways. Zanu-PF holds the reins of institutional power, but the international community refuses to recognise their status. While the MDC has had no institutional control, their presence in government could unlock international aid for the reconstruction of this desperate country. Much will now depend on which party influences and controls the Zimbabwean security forces.’

“Many people have taken significant risks to outline a vision for a new Zimbabwe,’ continues Frank Kantor, Secretary for Church and Society for the United Reformed Church. ‘The country desperately needs courageous leadership to make this vision a reality and to find ways to balance the requirements of justice with those of national healing and reconciliation in Zimbabwe. The people of Zimbabwe are looking for permanent long-term change. It will be difficult for this power-sharing arrangement to deliver fundamental reforms unless it addresses this need.'

The Churches are urging people to pray for the situation in Zimbabwe and have offered the following prayer for use by individuals, groups and congregations:

Lord of order in chaos,
Bring your peace where there is no peace,
Bring your sustenance where there is no bread,
Bring your wisdom where all is in disorder,
Bring your comfort where there is fear,
Bring your justice where injustice reigns.
Bless the people and politicians of Zimbabwe
and guide them to a just and stable future.


I have a nephew in Harare who has spent his life serving the people of Zimbabwe and has made it his country, so I watch and wait with a special inerest and concern for the success of this shared government and, hopefully, an answer to this prayer.

Free Churches call on churches to pray, governments to act for peace

The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church are calling for churches and governments to mark the International Day of Peace (21 September) by praying and working for peace in the Indian State of Orissa and Georgia.

The three denominations, who work closely on national and international issues through the Joint Public Issues Team, are calling on churches to pray for fellow Christians in Orissa who have experienced a wave of persecution and violence in recent weeks from Hindu extremists and for the local authorities in the Indian state to do more to halt the religious attacks.

The Revd Roberta Rominger, General Secretary of the United Reformed Church says, “Our partners report harrowing accounts of the violence in Orissa in which Christians, including priests and nuns, have been killed, raped or tortured. Over 150 churches have been ransacked and over 1,000 homes have been burnt down. We urge the Indian State and national authorities to intervene to prevent any further violence. The state authorities have failed to protect vulnerable people with tragic consequences. People's confidence in the police and justice system needs to be rebuilt. Our thoughts are with those who have fled their homes and those who are living in fear. We also offer our prayers and support to Hindu and Christian leaders who are working to resolve the underlying tensions between communities.”

The denominations are also keen for churches to pray on 21 September for relations between Russia, Georgia and the West following the military dispute in South Ossetia in August. They call on the UK government in particular to work for a just and peaceful resolution of tensions in the region.

Graham Sparkes, Head of the Faith and Unity Department at the Baptist Union of Great Britain, says, “Humanitarian aid has already been sent to our partners in the region. But beyond the immediate need for shelter, clothing and medical assistance, is the deeper need for a just peace that will prevent future conflict. Russian and Georgian Christians plan to meet later this month as a sign of their commitment to seek reconciliation and reject violence. We want to see that same commitment from politicians on all sides.”

The Revd Stephen Poxon, President of the Methodist Conference, believes praying for peace and reconciliation in Orissa and Georgia is living out the gospel message. “Love is at the heart of the Christian gospel. It should be remembered that Jesus’ instruction to “love your neighbour” was given at a time of social conflict and occupation. We see in Orissa, Georgia and elsewhere people of all faiths taking big risks to break down barriers and build understanding. The miracle of the God’s love is its capacity to overcome hatred and adversity. The instruction to “love your neighbour” is given to each and every one of us. On the International Day of Prayer for Peace we pray especially for those engaged in the task of peace and reconciliation in some of the more troubled areas of our world.”


For more information about the Joint Public Issues Team, visit

The Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB) is the Baptist family in England and Wales (there is also the Baptist Union of Wales). It is made up of churches, regional associations, the national resource centre and Baptist colleges. The Union works with others in mission locally, regionally and internationally. There are some 150,000 members of Baptist churches associated with the Baptist Union of Great Britain.

The Methodist Church has about 295,000 members and 800,000 people are connected with the Church. It has about 5,800 churches in Great Britain, and also maintains links with other Methodist churches totalling a worldwide membership of 70 million.

The United Reformed Church comprises one hundred thousand people in 1600 congregations. It has brought together English Presbyterians, English, Welsh and Scottish Congregationalists and members of the Churches of Christ. Worldwide, more than 70 million Christians are members of the Reformed family of churches, the largest Protestant tradition. The name ‘Reformed’ is used because the churches began to emerge with reform movements in the sixteenth century.

The three denominations are the largest of the Free Churches in Britain.

The Joint Public Issues Team, created in September 2006, combines the expertise of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church in the area of public issues. Through close collaboration, the churches aim to increase the effectiveness of their engagement in public life and parliamentary affairs.

For more information contact Chris Hall.

Chris Hall
Media Relations (Communications Dept)

Baptist Union of Great Britain, Baptist House, PO Box 44, 129 Broadway, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 8RT

Tel 01235 517756 Fax 01235 517715


Amanda Allchorn
Head of Communications

Baptist Union of Great Britain, Baptist House, PO Box 44, 129 Broadway, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 8RT

Tel 01235 517717 Fax 01235 517715 Mobile/Out of hours 07929 339240


Sunday, 14 September 2008

ECG A Heart for the Nations 2009

I think it is time to put in a plug for the ECG A Heart for the Nations Event 2009 so that we get people thinking about where to go and what to do next Easter. It was such a marvellous experience this year when we held the first ECG Event, a real venture in faith that thrilled the large crowds that gathered in Llandudno.

We will be back in Llandudno next Easter (14th - 19th April 2009) and I, for one, can't wait to be part of this dynamic conference again. There is so much to do that there is something to suit all tastes and all ages, with a great depth of spirituality. Take a look at (and then keep an eye on) the website, which has been revamped to include a description of what happened this year and still has much more to add to give a full picture of the 2009 ECG Event.

You can be assured that the ECG Event 2009 will be a thrilling alternative to other events like Spring Harvest, so why not see what will be on offer and join us, with all your friends, at Easter in Llandudno? See you there?

Friday, 12 September 2008


The following email came while I was away from home and the crucial time for prayer has now passed. Nor do we know what the situation is now but, whatever the situation, the Christians in Orissa will still need our fervent prayer until peace is restored and the suffering and sorrow ing are comforted and the work able to be continued once more. So I feel the need to ask you to join me in prayer for everyone in Orissa.

AUGUST 27, 2008

Dear beloved sponsors and friends of GNI, (Good News India)

We have never seen anything like this. We knew that Orissa was the most resistant and hostile State in India as far as the Gospel is concerned. And we brushed off the continuous threats and harassment we faced as we went about His work. But none of our staff imagined that they would see this kind of carnage..... And it seems to be totally under the radar of the Western Media.... Let me explain....

A militant Hindu priest and 4 of his attendants, who were zealously going
around the villages of Orissa and "reconverting" people back to Hinduism,
were gunned down by unknown assailants in Central Orissa last weekend.
Immediately the Christians were blamed. The cry rose up..."Kill the

And the horror began....

In the past 4 days, we have first-hand witness to hundreds of churches being
blown up or burned and many, many dozens of Christian tribals have been
slaughtered. For no other reason than they bear the name of Christ. Night and day I have been in touch with our Good News India Directors spread across 14 Dream Centers in Orissa... they are right in the middle of all this chaos.

In Tihidi, just after the police came to offer protection, a group of 70
blood-thirsty militants came to kill our staff and destroy the home. They
were not allowed to get in, but they did a lot of damage to our Dream Center
by throwing rocks and bricks and smashing our gate, etc. They have promised
to come back and "finish the job." Our kids and staff are locked inside and
have stayed that way with doors and windows shut for the past 3 days. It has
been a time of desperately calling on the Lord in prayer. More police have
come to offer protection.

In Kalahandi, the police and some local sympathizers got to our dream center
and gave our staff and kids about 3 minutes notice to vacate. No one had
time to even grab a change of clothes or any personal belonging. As they
fled, the blood-thirsty mob came to kill everyone in the building. We would
have had a mass funeral there, but for His grace.

All our dream centers are under lock down with the kids and staff huddled
inside and police outside. The fanatics are circling outside waiting for a
chance to kill.

In a nearby Catholic orphanage, the mob allowed the kids to leave and
locked up a Priest and a computer teacher in a house and burned them to
death. Many believers have been killed and hacked into pieces and left on
the road.... even women and children.

More than 5000 Christian families have had their homes burned or destroyed.
They have fled into the jungles and are living in great fear waiting for the
authorities to bring about peace. But so far, no peace is foreseen. This
will continue for another 10 days.... supposedly the 14 day mourning period
for the slain Hindu priest. Many more Christians will die and their houses
destroyed. Many more churches will be smashed down.

The Federal government is trying to restore order and perhaps things will
calm down. We ask for your prayers. Only the Hand of God can calm this

Through all this, I am more determined than ever to continue with our goal:
the transformation of a community by transforming its children. Orissa will
be saved... that is our heart's cry. If we can take these thousands of throw-
away children and help them to become disciples of Jesus, they will transform
an entire region. It is a long term goal, but it is strategic
thinking in terms of the Great Commission.

What can you do? First, please uphold all this in fervent prayer. Second,
pass this e-mail on to as many friends as you can. We must get the word out
and increase our prayer base for this is spiritual warfare at its most basic
meaning. We are literally fighting the devil in order to live for Christ's

The next 10 days are crucial. We pray for peace and calm to pervade across

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please pass it on and help us to
get as many people to partner with us on this cutting edge effort to fulfill
His mandate: Go and make disciples of all nations....

Dr. Faiz Rahman

I now have up-to-date news of some of the persecuted Christians in Orissa from a friend. He says, 'Let us also remember the recent victims of persecution by extreme Hindus - partiularly in Orissa. Some members of the Friends Missionary Prayer Band are still in danger - even hiding in the jungles with lack of food or water!'
So we must continue to pray fervently for their succour and safety.


Day for Christian Bloggers

There will be a Godblogs event on 23 September for Christian bloggers and we look forward to a stimulating time together.

We will be meeting from 11am until 2.30pm at Whitefield House, 186 Kennington Park Rd, London. There is a charge of £5 for the event, which includes lunch and will be payable on the door. (If for some reason you are no longer planning to attend, please let us know asap, so that we don’t over-cater.)

There will be plenty of opportunity for interaction and we hope to produce a code of conduct for godly blogging coming out of our time together, so please come ready to share your thoughts.

There is still time to book, until 16th September, by emailing .

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Delegation to Three Main Party Political Conferences


The President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference will be attending the three main party political conferences this autumn. UK poverty, the Millennium Development Goals and community action top the agenda

President Revd Stephen Poxon and Vice President Mr David Walton will visit the conferences as part of a Free Church delegation made up of representatives from the Methodist Church, United Reformed Church, Baptist Union of Great Britain, Salvation Army and the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

The delegation will spend time with Liberal Democrat, Labour and Conservative politicians, learning more about their processes and decisions in order to better engage and debate with policy makers.

Stephen said; ‘‘This will be a valuable opportunity to engage with some of the key decision makers in British politics about issues that matter to the churches, to those in our congregations and to those living in the communities we serve. We will be talking with MPs and party spokespeople on subjects such as UK and worldwide poverty, and how churches work to support the disadvantaged in their communities.’

Other issues the delegation hope to raise include business ethics, gun and knife crime, asylum and immigration, food and farming, and the role of churches in delivering public services.

‘Politics is about so much more than Election Day or what goes on at Westminster,’ said David. ‘By having a presence at these conferences, offering support to our politicians but also challenging them on significant matters, we hope to understand the important and difficult choices they face, and the pressure under which they work. Only through real engagement can we work to make the changes that matter.’

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Courses at Sarum College

I have, from time to time, undertaken courses of study at Sarum College and so i have been asked to publicise the following courses this autumn:-

Three-terms beginning Wed 1st Oct 2008, 7pm. Riccardo Larini & guest speakers.
The art of reading the Bible and drawing from it spiritual nourishment for everyday life. A course to help ordinary churchgoers to strengthen their faith. It will also be of interest to those Church ministers who wish to dig deeper in the Gospel they preach to their congregations.

Three-terms, beginning Monday 6th October 2008, 7pm.
John Elliott, Jane Howells, Philip Baxter, Ruth Newman & John Chandler.
The course aims to give participants a thorough understanding of the link between liturgy and architecture, between the shape of a church and what happens inside.

LEADERSHIP FOR THE CHURCH Dr Mervyn Davies & Prebendary Graham Dodds
Wednesdays, 10am to 4:30pm on October 8th, 15th, 22nd and November 5th, 12th.
A series of one-day training sessions exploring important aspects of leadership in the Church.
These are open to clergy and laity of all denominations who are involved in different forms of ministry and responsibility in the Church.

Saturday 1 November 2008. 10:00am to 4:30pm. Susan Stephenson
This course explores the spiritual wisdom of the yoga tradition. Yoga roots the spiritual journey in ethical principles and cultivates the tree of the self through dynamic postures; breathwork; and meditation so that it flowers and bears spiritual fruit. The day will provide an introduction to the eight aspects of classical yoga and will involve practical sessions as well as an opportunity to discuss the philosophical and spiritual teachings of the yogic tradition.

Saturdays 10am - 4:30pm with Sr. Mairead Quigley
Days of Deepening our preparation for the Major Liturgical times of the Christian Year.
Advent 22nd Nov, Christmas 13th Dec, Lent 28th Feb, Easter 4th Apr and Pentecost 30th May.

A series of one-day Saturday courses, 10am to 4:30pm. Chris Rowberry
What, if anything, is behind what we view? This series explores how film may be like the holding up of mirror to our selves. Session structure is: introduction, film showing and discussion.

Human/Machine, they all look alike to me - Blade Runner, 22nd November 2008.
This illusionary life -The Matrix, 17th January 2009.
What if this is . . . . As Good As It Gets, 28th February 2009.
Nine people's stories entangled in a single random day. And then it rained frogs! –
Magnolia, 31st January 2009.

Please call 01722 424800 to book
Sarum College, 19 The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EE

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Getting Better All the Time

As a member of the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, I am frequently sent new information about it and its workings. So I was delighted to receive the 'Annual Review 2008' under the title Getting Better All the Time.

The Trust is one of Reading's biggest employers as well as one of the largest general hospital trusts in the country, employing over 4,000 staff and treating over half a million patients each year. Also hundreds of volunteers give up their free time on a regular basis to help patients. The volunteers come from all walks of life and their ages range from 16 to 80 plus.

But what I most want to 'blow the trumpet' about are these statistics -

16 babies born
113 emergency admissions
2,300 meals cooked
116 operations performed
475 X-rays taken
215 patients seen
£7,000 spent on repairs and maintenance

..... all in ONE DAY!

I used to joke that the 'Royal Berks.' was my second home though, thankfully, these days I only need to visit for routine check-ups, and we are very proud of our local hospital and its staff.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Happy New Year!

A happy New Year to you. For Methodists this is the beginning of our New Year and I pray that it will turn out to be a truly Happy New Year for all who read this blog.

For many this marks the beginning of new ventures in faith with new colleagues and new surroundings, and for all these I offer my supporting prayer that God will richly bless all their work for Him. This especially applies to our new President and Vice-President and the new Connexional Team - this includes the new Secretary of Conference - who will carry the responsibility of inspiring and directing all our work as a church - a connexion - this year. They will need all the prayer support that we can give them, so we pray that God will strengthen and empower them all in this coming year. Our prayers are also needed for all who are involved in Fresh Expressions of church, as well as for those who 'holding the fort' in difficult situations.

Yet there are others for whom this New Year begins with tears and disappointment, with hopes and plans in ruins, and an unknown future to face as they embark on the difficult task of finding a new station or a new job. In the midst of our joy at the begiining of a New Year, I plead for you to offer up fervent prayers for all who are picking themselves up, putting their hands into the hand of God and stepping uncertainly, fearfully yet trustingly into the future as God wills it.

This is the strength of the family of Methodism - the connexion - that when one part of the family is in distress, our hearts bleed with them and we close ranks to hold them up to the Father who cares for each and every one.

This, this is the God we adore,
Our faithful, unchangeable Friend;
Whose love is as great as His power,
And neither knows measure nor end.

'Tis Jesus, the first and the last,
Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home;
We'll praise Him for all that is past,
And trust Him for all that's to come.