Friday, 30 January 2009

Thursdays in Black

With the Middle-Eastern situation remaining fragile, Methgodist support is being sought for an international peace campaign that has its roots in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza.

The campaign, "Thursdays in Black", asks people to wear a specially made black T-shirt or other item of black clothing every Thursday, in solidarity with women "who suffer every day of the week". It brings together various strands of peace protest from around the world, including the "Women in Black" of Gaza.

The movement is supported by the British Unit of the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women (WFMUCW)working in collaboration with the Methodist Church's Women's Network, which sell special T-shirts and badges to raise awareness of violence against women, wherever and whenever it occurs.

In response to the last few weeks of military action in the Gaza Strip, the WFMUCW and Women's Network have once again taken the opportunity to remind Methodists of this initiative. In addition they are suggesting that people come together and pray for peace each Thursday.

WFMUCW British unit correspondent Jill Baker believes the campaign represents "one samll way in which we can offer our solidarity to those suffering in this conflict". 2Thursdays in Black" was launched by the World Council of Churches in the 1980s as a peaceful stand against some of the by-products of war and conflict; namely rape, violence and fear of violence.

Special campaign T-shirts are available from WFMUCW British unit treasurer Ann Baarda (tel: 01757 709 057 or e-mail

Source: Methodist Recorder 29/01/2009

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Justice as Vietnam Celebrates Tet (New Year)

Tomorrow is the beginning of the Tet (New Year) celebrations in Vietnam and, since we don't hear too much about this part of the world these days, I would like to share this newspaper report of the situation there now.

"Vietnam's strong economic development has seen the emergence of middle class and high-income groups of people that can afford a luxurious lifestyle, which has spilled over into how they welcome Tet. Most of these people, especially in big cities like Hanoi, Hai Phong and Ho Chi Minh, no longer make the banh chung (square cakes made from glutinous rice, pork and green beans), lean pork paste and fruit jams during the Tet season.

"People choose blossoms trees in Hanoi to decorate their house during Tet
Modernization means they have neither the time nor the inclination for such activities. Spending many hours at offices and factories leaves little time for cooking at home, and everything. Expensive imported items and locally-made food products that serve many budget levels are available in the market. From street vendors, groceries stores, and regional markets to plush upmarket trade centers, the options are plentiful if you have money.

"Already clogged with motorbikes and an increasing number of cars, streets in the cities are snarled on pre-Tet days as people rush to markets, supermarkets, trade centers and other shops. “The number of customers coming here during the Tet shopping season has increased many times over ordinary days. We have prepared more goods and mobilized more staff to serve them,” says Nguyet Anh, an employee of the Trang Tien Plaza in Hanoi.

"At a supermarket in the plaza, streams of customers with shopping carts loaded with foods, beverages, cosmetics and garments cram through its narrow doorways. “In my mother’s generation, cooking used to be one of their joys during Tet. Now, we don’t want to spend much time on it [cooking]. We want to spend Tet relaxing,” says nurse Nguyen Thi Hanh, 27, while choosing some semi-processed chicken.
People today also spend more time decorating their houses with flowers and bonsai for Tet. Many have spent hundreds of dollars on bonsai plants and trees with beautiful shapes for the holiday, which falls on January 26 this year.

"People in the north have a tradition of displaying peach blossoms and kumquat trees while those in the south display ochna plants that bloom yellow flowers during Tet.
This year, many people in the south have chosen peach blossoms and kumquat bonsai mainly grown in Hanoi and the northern provinces of Bac Giang and Hung Yen, as well as that of ochna plants grown in southern localities, says gardener Nguyen Duc Minh, as he waters trees pruned in the shapes of pyramids, dragons, phoenixes and even waterfalls.

"There are other changes in the way Tet is celebrated, including one indispensable activity, which is to visit relatives and not leave without eating or drinking. That custom is changing now. Instead of welcoming Tet at home, many people are choosing beaches, including Nha Trang, Phan Thiet, Phu Quoc and Tuan Chau, while others prefer to travel abroad, mainly to regional countries like China, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.

"Another Tet tradition that has changed a lot in recent years is the offering of gifts. Previously, Tet gifts were locally-produced wine bottles and boxes of jams as offerings to parents, relatives and bosses as a sign of affection and respect.
Now, many people choose to buy expensive gifts for their superiors with some presents destined for officials worth thousands of dollars.

"Amidst all the changes, there is a constant. Every New Year is awaited with expectations and hopes of greater joy and prosperity in the coming year. Visitors check out orchids and ornamental plants at September 23rd Park’s Tet flower market

"The Youth Cultural House in Ho Chi Minh City has a full schedule of traditional events to celebrate Tet that will go on until the fifth day of the new year. City sings, dances and blossoms for Tet. The Tet Viet Ky Suu 2009 (2009 Vietnamese Lunar New Year of the Buffalo) festival opened last Thursday with displays of pictures and calligraphy that are also for sale. It also features lion dancing and a contest between don ca tai tu (traditional southern folk music) groups.

"A “calligraphy street” will be set up in front of the house in Pham Ngoc Thach Street, and was open until January 25. It has calligraphers showing off their skills, exhibitions and sales of their works. Also, a photography exhibition will trace Vietnam’s development through the years, and a weeklong tea festival opening today will showcase the nation’s tea-drinking culture. A tourist looks at calligraphy on display in front of the HCMC Youth Cultural House in District 1
On Friday, three days before Tet, visitors will be taught how to make banh tet (round glutinous cake), which will be given later that day to 2,000 orphans along with li xi (lucky money given to children for Tet).

"Traditional Vietnamese martial arts and co nguoi (human Chinese chess) performances will begin on January 27 until the 30th. The city is also blooming with Tet flower markets to mark the holiday, with the largest flower market, the Tet Flower Market at September 23rd Park, opening on Sunday in District 1. The park is vibrant with the colors of peach blossoms from the north, kumquats from the Mekong Delta, and ochnas from Binh Dinh and Ben Tre provinces. A seller from northern Hai Duong Province said peach blossoms were more expensive this year due to higher workers’ wages and transportation costs. An eight-year-old peach blossom tree is priced VND1.5 million (US$86) while smaller ones sell for around VND600,000. For the first time ever, strawberry trees from the Central Highlands’ Lam Dong Province are being sold at the market for VND80,000 and many cool-temperature flower varieties, such as lilies, are available.

"In addition, the Nguyen Hue Flower Street will open in downtown this Friday as the epicenter of all the city’s Tet seasonal celebrations. The street fair, including hundreds of booths and live outdoor performances, will take place on Nguyen Hue Boulevard in District 1. Three other large Tet flower markets are currently open at District 1’s Le Van Tam Park, Gia Dinh Park in Go Vap District and the Phu My Hung New Urban Area in District 7."

Source: Thanh Nien (Youth) News 20/01/2009

My daughter was concerned that nothing was said about those without money and so she writes this 'to give a balanced picture'.

'Ostentatious spending on an unprecedented scale is in sharp contrast to the difficult time facing all too many as the New Year approaches. To make money, you need money, so for those on low salaries, including many highly-skilled professionals, even affording necessities such as normal food, school and medical fees presents a real problem, and travelling home for the festivities in unthinkable.'

You may find the following site interesting:

Friday, 23 January 2009

Christians are becoming social pariahs in Britain, claims Jeremy Vine

Christians are becoming social pariahs in Britain, claims Jeremy Vine
Jeremy Vine, the BBC presenter, has claimed that it is becoming "socially unacceptable" to be a Christian in Britain.

The Radio 2 host said that he feels unable to talk about his faith on his show because he fears how people would react. He argues that society has become increasingly intolerant of the freedom to express religious views. "You can't express views that were common currency 30 or 40 years ago," he said. "Arguably, the parameters of what you might call 'right thinking' are probably closing. "Sadly, along with that has come the fact that it's almost socially unacceptable to say you believe in God."

His comments follow the claim from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, that Britain is an "unfriendly" place for religious people to live.

Mr Vine, 43, is a practising Anglican, but says he would be compromised by being more open about his faith on air. "Just blurting it out would be destructive," he said. "Just because something's true doesn't mean you can say it. That's quite an important principle. Once I put my cards on the table about my faith in discussions, it becomes problematic."

In an interview with Reform, a magazine published by the United Reformed Church, Mr Vine says that he is forced to separate his personal beliefs from his role as a presenter. "One of the things that I think, which may sound bizarre, is that Christ is who he said he was. I don't think I'd put that out on my show; I suppose there's a bit of a firewall between thinking that and doing the job I do."

Last year, Mark Thompson, the director-general of the BBC and a practising Roman Catholic, suggested that Islam should be treated more sensitively by the BBC than Christianity. However, he also said that accusations that the corporation was anti-God were "not just too sweeping; they are not even directionally true".

Ed Stourton, one of Mr Vine's colleagues at the BBC, said that he felt that the biggest problem for people of faith is being sidelined. Clearly we live in a secular society and that has increased, but I don't get a sense of being persecuted," he said. There's a problem for people who are active in their faith in feeling that the society around them ignores them." The Today presenter said that he wouldn't allow his faith to affect his job as he has a duty to reflect the views of his audience.
He added: "I'm perfectly happy to say I'm a Roman Catholic and that doesn't mean I'm a nutter."

Tony Blair revealed in 2007 that he had been unable to be open about his faith when Prime Minister for fear that people would label him a "nutter". "It's difficult if you talk about religious faith in our political system," he said. "If you are in the American political system or others then you can talk about religious faith and people say 'Yes, that's fair enough,' and it is something they respond to quite naturally. You talk about it in our system and, frankly, people do think you're a nutter."

Source: Daily Telegraph (18/1)


The Evangelical Alliance UK is sending President Barack Obama a new Bible after reports that one was mysteriously absent from his second swearing in.

Dr Krish Kandiah, Director of Churches in Mission for the Evangelical Alliance, will post a copy of an edition of the Bible that highlights issues of poverty and justice to the new President to make sure he has one on hand for any future need.

“President Obama’s commitment to the scripture was obvious during his inaugural address, when he quoted Paul’s letter to the Corinthians - so when we heard he didn’t swear on a Bible the second time, we could only assume it was because he couldn’t find one,” said Dr Kandiah.

“We are sending him a copy of the Bible in case he is ever Biblically caught short again. We are delighted that President Obama takes justice and the alleviation of poverty very seriously, so we will send him a Bible that focuses on these issues that are so close to his, and God’s, heart.”

President Obama said in his inaugural address: “We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.”

The Evangelical Alliance will send President Obama a copy of The Poverty and Justice Bible, published by Bible Society, which is the first to highlight more than 2,000 passages that speak of God’s attitude to poverty and justice. Challenging the notion that the Bible is a dusty, outdated rulebook, it shows that, on the biggest issues of our day, God got there first – and he has something to say.

Recently Prime Minister Gordon Brown was presented with The Poverty and Justice Bible at Downing Street . And in July last year, hundreds of Bishops carried The Poverty and Justice Bible as they marched across Westminster in a campaign against world poverty.

Peter Meadows, Associate Executive Director at Bible Society, said: “The Bible has a place in public life and government, which is why it was part of President Obama's inauguration. But it is more than symbolic. It's more than a good idea. The Bible is a reminder that true hope and real change has its root in Scripture.”

Source: Evangelical Alliance 22/01/2009

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Musical Centenary

Last Saturday members of our church treated us to a lively concert of 100 years of music and entertainment, with something from each decade. They began with everyone singing wartime songs like 'Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag' and ended with the choir singing songs from 'Mama Mia', with improvements by the two 'vicars' wives' as they danced to the music! In between, we were entertained by piano recitals - one by a very quiet young man with autism whose talent was quite a shock to all who had never even heard him talk! - and poems by Pam Ayers. We ended with a hot supper of things like vegetable lasagne and shepherd's pie for so many people that we had to serve an overflow in the Woodcote Room. A very happy occasion.

For our next celebration we have invited the National Methodist Youth Brass Band for the weekend of 7th to 8th February, when they will give a concert on the Saturday evening and play for the Morning Service on the Sunday morning. Just in case anyone reading this lives near enough to want to come to the concert at Caversham Heights Methodist Church, Reading, tickets are £5 from Janet Offord 0118 947 0903 or from Viv Emerson 01491 572 531 Email:

The Methodist Youth Brass Band was formed in April 1987 when 20 enthusiastic young brass players responded to an advert in the Methodist Recorder and got together at Surbiton Hill Methodist Church. After just two lengthy and concentrated rehearsals they gave a creditable first concert and then on the Sunday participated in morning worship by playing the voluntaries and accompanying all the hymns. The National Methodist Youth Brass Band had been born. It was evident from that first weekend that there was potential and promise for such a band and that God's Spirit was urging it on.

But how can you run a band on a national basis? How can they get together to practise and perform? What about the cost of travel and accommodation? The answer is 'weekends'. The band meets four or five times a year from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. The players sleep on the floor in church halls and are fed by local congregations. They give a Saturday night concert and lead Sunday morning worship - a pattern set by that first weekend in Surbiton.

WE are eagerly looking forward to welcoming our young vistors and listening to their music.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Conference of European Churches Essay Challenge

Have you seen the essay competition highlighted by Sarah Malik, our Methodist Youth President, on her blog ? Methodist Minister, Richard Hall, has pulled out fuller details from the European Churches website to post on his blog if you want a quick reference.

There's not a lot of time to publicise this before the deadline of 15th February, but it would be good to encourage our young folk to enter. This is an ecumenical project on the wonderful theme of Christian hope - so much needed by all of us today.
Do go to these two websites and encourage the under 30s to challenge us all to truly put our hope in Christ.

Churches tackle credit crisis issues

Call to move towards a sustainable economy

Christian thinkers came together at Methodist Church House in London yesterday to talk about how the Churches could lead the way through the economic crisis.

The speakers at the conference organised by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland examined the root causes of the current crisis from a faith perspective and gave their thoughts on what the free churches’ role in addressing the global financial meltdown should be.

John Ellis, strategic leader of the Methodist Church Connexional Team and Treasurer of the United Reformed Church who previously worked at the Bank of England, made the connection between HSBC’s relatively safe riding of the economic storm and its chairman’s Christian faith.

“It is fairly safe to assert that HSBC has been the most robust during the recent economic troubles,” he said. “It is also safe to assert that the chairman of HSBC is an Anglican priest. Is that a coincidence?”

John also pointed out the growth of credit unions in recent years and the possibility of a return to basic banking.

Ann Pettifor, former head of Jubilee 2000 Debt Relief Campaign and Campaign Director of Operation Noah, blamed the sin of usury and easy credit for the crisis and examined the role high interest rates had played in the bursting of the credit bubble.
“Six per cent interest is an incredibly high and, I would say, usurious rate,” she said. “Usury is the exalting of money values over human and environmental values. Capital and globalisation is based on the principal that there are no boundaries. But the problem is law needs boundaries.” Ann emphasised that usury was looked down upon in Islam.

Bob Goudzwaard, Professor Emeritus of Economics and Social Philosophy at the Free University in Amsterdam, said he hoped churches would be willing to take part in a discussion on changing economic structures.

Paula Clifford, Head of Theology at Christian Aid, told the conference she thought the view that the economic crisis served a higher purpose was deeply offensive to poorer people who are now experiencing cuts in aid. Niall Cooper, from the Get Fair Campaign against poverty, said the Church should not be afraid to take sides, get political and stand up for the poor.

Alison Gelder, Chief Executive of Housing Justice, posed the question: “To what extent should we share the responsibility of looking around the community and saying, ‘Who is it who needs housing?’”

John Reynolds, an investment banker and Chairman of the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group, laid out a five point agenda in which churches would have a stronger voice. “Ethical pressure must be applied both on companies and stake holders at the same time,” he said.

Following a panel discussion, Michael Bartlet, Parliamentary Liaison Officer for Quaker Peace and Social Witness, summed up the discussion. “We face today a choice between a political economy based on greed and consumption and a way of life which is based on sustainable and just relationships with our neighbour,” he said. “This conference is an example of the practical kind of way we can work together in the future towards building a more sustainable economy.”



Other speakers included Dr Murdo Macdonald, Policy Officer for the Church of Scotland, Society, Religion and Technology Project, who looked at the crisis from a Scottish perspective, and Geraint Hopkins, Policy Officer at Churches Together in Wales, who gave a Welsh outlook.

Audio files of the key note speeches and the panel discussion will shortly be available on-line on the Methodist Web Radio page on the Methodist Church in Great Britain website at

To find out more about Churches Together in Britain and Ireland visit

Please note that each contributor at the event was speaking from their own perspective and those views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the British Methodist Church.

Source: Methodist News Service 21/01/2009

Monday, 19 January 2009


On the eve of the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States of America, I cannot do better than to point you to the post headed 'Change!' on the Revd Amy Spivey's blog It is written by her husband, the Revd Timothy Moore (and posted with his permission), and I invite you to share it with these two American Methodist Minsters at present serving in the UK.

This post contains the words 'what people are interested in are not uncertain time frames of possible future promises but present arrivals at the shores of change. Such change will not happen by accident.' He ends the post with a challenge and asking 'What appropriate viral text message might the church have to offer in response to Obama's election and the world's hopeful cries?' I will leave you to go over there and see for yourselves what Tim offers as such a text message.

May God bless America under the Presidency of its new President, Barack Obama, that the world also might benefit from his leadership under God.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Methodist Youth President

Have you been keeping up with the newly-appointed - or should it be 'newly-elected' - Methodist Youth President lately? I fancy that the answer is 'No' because I have just discovered that her blog is hidden on the connexional website! I had gone to to check something else but there on the home page was 'Methodist Youth President - Sarah Malik' and I thought I would see what came under that label. I did not expect to find Sarah's blog there!

Try it some time and you will find it very interesting. But why was it necesary to tie Sarah's blog into the connexional site? Would it not have been more accessible to the young people whom she is serving and representing this year if it had been floating free like our blogs and that of the President and Vice-President? Whatever, do please go to read her blog and encourage her as much as you can.

‘Noah’s Ark’ will be built in Wales

The churches of Cardiff are recreating Noah’s Ark using ‘Helwick LV 14’, a ship docked in Cardiff Bay, to highlight climate change. The idea is part of Operation Noah’s Ark, a Christian–led campaign that aims to unite churches, environmental groups and individuals in a call for urgent action at the Copenhagen climate talks at the end of this year. Cardiff’s Ark project will involve schoolchildren, teachers, parents, churches, environmentalists, development organisations, a Salvation Army band, a gospel choir and live animals. The Ark symbolises the need to protect life on our planet, and is one of many Arks being recreated by churches in Britain and Ireland.

Sources: Church Times (14/1); Ekklesia (13/1)


Can I draw your attention to my post headed 'Nostalgia', which spent so long in the 'Drafts' box that (although dated 13th January) it has just appeared on my blog!


Friday, 16 January 2009


On the initiative and at the request of those working for several of Britain's major churches on church and society issues, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland is to hold a one-day conference on "The economic crisis: towards sustainable economies and livelihoods".

The aim of the conference is to examine the root causes of the current economic crisis from a faith perspective, and what the churches' distinctive role in addressing the crisis should be in terms of their prophetic, pastoral and partnership responsibilities.

The conference will take place on Tuesday 20 January 2009, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Methodist Church House, 25, Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5JR. Media are invited to attend. All proceedings will be on the record.

A former member of the Dutch parliament, and one of Britain's leading Christian commentators on economic and climate change issues will be the main speakers at the conference.

Bob Goudzwaard, professor emeritus of economics and social philosophy at the Free University in Amsterdam, a former member of the Dutch parliament, and co-author of "Hope in Troubled Times: A New Vision for Confronting Global Crises", will speak on "The underlying causes of the global economic crisis".

The other keynote speaker is Ann Pettifor, former head of the Jubilee 2000 debt relief campaign, and now campaign director of Operation Noah, the first Christian campaign focused exclusively on climate change. Ann Pettifor is the author of "The Coming First World Debt Crisis", and her conference topic will be "The impact of current economic factors on sustainable lifestyles".

The Revd Dave Bookless, director of A Rocha (meaning "The Rock"), a Christian environmental and nature conservation organisation with a strong community emphasis, will give a theological response to the keynote addresses.

John Ellis, who previously worked at the Bank of England and is now a senior staff member of the Methodist Church in Britain, will set the scene for the day.

Michael Bartlet, parliamentary liaison officer for Quaker Peace and Social Witness, will sum up and suggest possible ways forward for the churches.

Other contributors will include:
* John Reynolds, chief executive officer of Reynolds Partners, an independent investment bank , and chairman of the Church of England's Ethical Investment Advisory Group;
* Murdo Macdonald, policy officer for the Church of Scotland's Society, Religion and Technology Project;
* Geraint Hopkins, policy officer at Cytûn (Churches Together in Wales);
* Paula Clifford, head of theology for Christian Aid;
* Niall Cooper, national coordinator of Church Action on Poverty, and the Get Fair campaign;
* Alison Gelder, chief executive of Housing Justice;


Churches urge Prayer for Justice in Zimbabwe

The Methodist Church and URC back Africa Day of Prayer -
The people of Zimbabwe will be held in the thoughts of Methodists and United Reformed Church members on an Africa Day of Prayer.

The two denominations have backed the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC’s) call for churches around the world to pray for Zimbabwe on January 25.

The cholera epidemic continues to spread across the country. According to figures circulated by the AACC, 37,000 people have contracted the disease and 1,800 people have died. Food is scarce, political violence continues and schools have not been able to run properly due to the financial and social crisis.

Revd John Marsh, Moderator of the General Assembly of The United Reformed Church, said: “With the eyes of the world’s media now firmly fixed on the unfolding tragedy in Gaza, we need to be reminded of the immense pain and suffering that continues to haunt the people of Zimbabwe.

“We fully endorse the AACC’s resolution on Zimbabwe and call on our Churches to support their call for a special Africa Day of Prayer and Fasting for Justice in Zimbabwe on Sunday 25 January. We therefore encourage local churches to commence their services on that day with the lighting of a candle and a minute’s silence in prayer and solidarity with the people and churches of Zimbabwe.”

The Ninth Assembly of the AACC met in Maputo, Mozambique in December.

The assembly, which was attended by Christine Elliott, Secretary for External Relationships for the British Methodist Church, backed resolutions calling for an end to violence and political freedom of expression.

Steve Hucklesby, Public Issues Policy Adviser for The Methodist Church, said: “We want a process that can bring about the longing of all Zimbabweans for a free and fair society. Robert Mugabe lost the Presidential election. Zanu PF came second in Parliamentary elections. Mr Mugabe must be prepared to relinquish power if Zimbabweans are to be free.

“The food and cholera crisis are symptoms of the meltdown of the economy and provision of essential services. Water is contaminated with human waste and health services are not functioning in many areas. The government's response is to increase security and suppress dissent. Some humanitarian aid is getting through but much more is needed."

A suggested reading and prayer can be found in the notes below.



God of power and truth,
May your peace rest with the restless of Zimbabwe
May your love inspire the hearts of all those who long and work for justice
May your healing touch the wounds of those suffering and bereaved
May your truth be spoken in dangerous places
May we not be idle in working, praying, longing and searching for your Kingdom in his broken world.

Reading: Isaiah 58:6-9.

Source: Methodist News Service 16 January 2009

Thursday, 15 January 2009


It is exactly 70 years since I left school and my family and the small market town of Barnard Castle at the foot of Teesdale and headed for my first job in the Unemployment Assistance Board in Westminster - and Clapham High Street Methodist Church, where I taught in the Sunday School and met my future husband in the choir there. It seemed like a great adventure then and, my goodness, I could never have dreamed then of the varied journey that God has led me on in those 70 years since then!

In Teesdale, we used to sing, 'The Teesdale hills for me, The Teesdale hills for me, Go where I will I love them still, The Teesdale hills for me.' I didn't get back to them very often in those 70 years but the yearning to return was always strong, so last summer's stay in Upper Teesdale was a great joy - long anticipated. As a result of signing the visitors' book at Newbiggin-in-Teesdale Methodist Chapel, I had a surprise last week in a letter from the Methodist lady who overlooks the affairs of this historic chapel. I find it surprising that she writes to me as a long-lost friend after all those years.

She writes, 'It is good to get in touch with you after so many years. I remember your parents and your family members and can recall our days at Newgate Sunday School.' [The Newgate Primitive Methodist Church was closed at the time of Methodist Union and its congregation amalgamated with the Trinity Methodist Church in Barnard Castle. Now it has been destroyed and a block of flats has been built in its place.]

She continues,'I was pleased to read your article about the Newbiggin Chapel [in the Questions and Answers column of the Methodist Recorder]. This year we celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the signing of the original deed, and we are planning special events, including a visit of Mark Topping on Wesley Day. Bowlees Visitor Centre keeps 3-fold leaflets and the lady in charge has a key to Newiggin Chapel. The chapel is well signposted on the roads from Middleton and from Alston.'

Monday, 12 January 2009

Methodist Church lends support to Christians in North Korea

Many people aren’t aware that there are Christians in North Korea, let alone that the Methodist Church has been working with them.

This month, The Fund for World Mission will grant £5,000 to help the Church in North Korea run a food production company to help people there.

The Methodist Church in Britain will be joining in the Global Day of Repentance and Prayer for North Korea on January 14, using Day 22 of the Prayer Handbook.

Steve Pearce, Partnership Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific, said: “Times are particularly hard for all the people of North Korea at the present time. The North Korean population is cut off and isolated from the rest of the world and dependent on the regime for their needs. Food is scarce for many – there are problems in the supply of humanitarian aid.

“Christianity is treated as ‘a bad element’ in this socialist country. Christians have been beaten, arrested, tortured, or killed because of their religious beliefs but local sources estimates the number of underground Christians to be at least 200,000, maybe many more, and many of them are imprisoned for their faith.

“Raids are made regularly, both in North Korea and China, to arrest refugees and those helping them.”

The British Methodist Church and the Ecumenical Forum for Peace, Reunification and Development on the Korean Peninsula have been developing common projects with Church representatives from North and South Korea, North America and Europe.

Source: Methodist News Service 12/01/09

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

New Year Musings

It has been so good over the last few days to have been able to give and receive so many Happy New Year greetings and to read of fellow bloggers' hopes and dreams for 2009, as well as their summing up of their journey through 2008. This is one of the joys of blogging - to be able to share with each other, especially the past triumphs or disappointments and the future expectations, as well as to pray for those who are suffering (as Paul (turbulent cleric)is at present) or who have been bereaved.

It is like belonging to a big family and I have great pleasure in letting everyone know that one blogging friend who has been missed for some time has now signalled her return to the Methoblogosphere.
MICKY YOUNGSON is now blogging again but has had to change from the old name of Singing Colours to the new name of, so please visit her blog and welcome her back.

But for all the 'Happy New Year's we have shared with each other, we are all aware that for many others (like John on the Zeray Gazette, families in Gaza and other places at war) the beginning of the year does not signify happiness nor an expectation of it. So I want to share a prayer with you all today -

Persisting God:
the passing years do not dim your memory,
nor stop your ears, nor dim your eyes.

In your mercy, call to mind the prayers we offered
in the year that has passed.
We offer you again the pain,thepity, the horror,
the grief and the daily necessity
which filled our hearts and minds.

Draw together the gathering of prayers
which we have offered throughout the year,
and tenderly bless, dear Lord.

We pray this day for those who find excitement
and renewal in seasons of change;
- whisper in their hearts the things which endure.
We pray also for those who find beginnings and endings hard;
- assure them of your contining companionship.

In the darkness which is ahead, be our guide;
In the pain which awaits us, be our balm;
In the sorrow which will fill us, be our secret smile;
In the sickness which will afflict us, be our inner health;
In the laughter which will be part of us, be our lasting joy.

We offer you this bundle of prayers
as we begin this year.
Draw them close together in your hands
and hold them to your heart,
and tenderly bless, dear Lord.

Monday, 5 January 2009

White Christmas?

This morning we had a light dusting of snow - nothing at all compared with what we had in October - and Christmas doesn't end until tomorrow (Tuesday), so can we say that we had a white Christmas?

The forecasters told us that tonight is going to be the coldest night of the winter - down to -10 - although none of the cars have frost on them yet.

Tonight at our Disciple 4 Bible study group one of the exercises we were set asked us to 'Turn Job 28 into a litany consisting of several statements, with each statement followed by a refrain on where wisdom is found.' At first we all drew a blank after finding that the only postive statement on wisdom came right at the end. Then light dawned and we found it a very good exercise indeed. We turned all the negative statements into questions like, 'Is wisdom to be found in the silver seams of the rocks?' followed by the refrain, 'The fear of the Lord is Wisdom' and so on. Then it became a powerful litany.

Next week we are looking forward to studying the Song of Solomon. That's great!

Presidents and Vice-Presidents

I wonder how many of you have been following the President and Vice-President's blog over the Christmas period. If not, you may be glad to know that, on request, David Walton (our Vice-President) has gone back to his post of 8th December and added captions to all the photographs of former Presidents and Vice-Presidents. This makes a big difference for many of us who knew them when in office because, for instance, I wouldn't have recognised Kenneth Greet without the captions! Many others though are still very familiar and wonderful to see on this blog. We salute them all and wish them all a Happy New Year!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Centenary Year 2009

Caversham Heights Methodist Church

Minister Rev’d Dermot Thornberry

Programme of special events for 2009

4th 10.30 a.m. Superintendent Minister, Rev’d David Ellis.
Saturday 17th: 6.30 p.m. Concert ‘A Hundred Years of Entertainment – something from every decade’. Supper will follow in the Hall. Tickets £8.00
18th: 10.30 a.m. Rev’d Dermot Thornberry will lead our Covenant Service.

Saturday 7th – 7.30 p.m. The National Methodist Youth Brass Band will entertain us on Saturday evening – Tickets £5.00 and take part in our service on Sunday 8th at 10.30 which will be led by Rev’d Dermot Thornberry.
Tuesday 24th February - 6.30 p.m. – Annual Pancake Party in our Church Hall Tickets: Adults £5.00, Family ticket £12.00

Friday 6th at 8 p.m. Women’s World Day of Prayer service.
Sunday 15th – 6.30 p.m. Rev’d Stephen Poxon – President of Conference and Rev’d Dr. Andrew Wood – Chairman of Southampton District with Rev’d Dermot Thornberry.
Thursday 19th – 8 p.m. ‘Riding Lights’ Company production of ‘REDEMPTION SONG’ Tickets £5.00
Sunday 22nd – 10.30 a.m. Mothering Sunday and Mission in Britain Service – Rev’d Dr Mark Wakelin – Connexional Team Secretary for Internal Affairs.

8 a.m. Communion followed by Easter Breakfast at
9 a.m. in the Hall (Donations to Feed the Children). 10.30 a.m. Communion Service.
Sunday 26th 10.30 a.m. Rev’d Terry Harris.

Sunday 10th at 4 p.m. Churches Together in Caversham United Christian Aid service at Caversham Heights
Sunday 24th 10.30 a.m. – Bishop Crispian Hollis, Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth.

Throughout this month ‘Items of Interest’ of our church over the past 100 years will be displayed in the vestibule
Sunday 7th 10.30 a.m. – Rev’d Jackie Case – Superintendent Minister of the Portsmouth Circuit.
Sunday 14th 10.30 a.m. – Sunday Starters’ Anniversary and NCH Sunday
Saturday 20th June: The Church will be open to public for a Flower/Art Exhibition from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Coffee/tea and biscuits served throughout the day.
Sunday 21st 10.30 a.m. OUR CENTENARY ANNIVERSARY: Rev’d Dr Lord Griffiths will lead our service. An Anniversary cake will be cut in the Hall during coffee after the service. A ‘Celebration Lunch’ will be held at the home of Ken and Barbara Macrae, 36 Chazey Road, Caversham. All are welcome.

Saturday 26th at 7.30 p.m. Harvest Supper Tickets £6 adults, £3 School Children
Sunday 27th 10.30 a.m. Professor Sir John Marsh

Sunday 4th: 10.30 a.m. – Major Samuel Edgar (Salvation Army) Chairman of West Midlands Free Church Federal Council.
Sunday 18th: 10.30 a.m. and 6.30 p.m. Deacon Vic Downs.
Sunday 25th 10.30 a.m. Mr John Bell – former Vice President of Conference.

Saturday 7th – 10.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. Autumn Fair in aid of an Overseas Charity (t.b.a.)
Sunday 8th 10.30 a.m. Rev’d Andy Moffoot
Sunday 29th: 1st in Advent

Sunday 6th: 2nd in Advent 10.30 a.m. Rev’d Prof. Frances Young
Sunday 13th: 3rd in Advent 10.30 a.m. Toy Service.
Sunday 20th: 4th in Advent 4 p.m. Children’s Service
Thursday 24th 11.15 p.m. Midnight Communion

Friday 25th CHRISTMAS DAY:
10.30 a.m. A short family service

Sunday 27th 10.30 a.m. Rev’d Dr John Ogden
No evening service.

Janet Offord – 0118 947 0903
Viv Emerson – 01491 572 531

Celebrating our Centenary in 2009

Serving Christ in the 21st Century