Saturday, 28 February 2009

A Hymn for Lent

Here’s a hymn for Lent, by Rachel Parkinson.

To the tune: Beneath the cross of Jesus

1. “Lord, save us from the desert”
is what we often pray
yet cushioned by securities
we often lose the Way.
So lead us into wilderness
and gently strip us bare;
That, trusting in your grace alone,
we find your blessings there.

2. The desert meant for Hagar
she met God face to face;
A burning bush made Moses see
the desert’s sacred space.
The manna in the wilderness
led Israel to rejoice
And Elijah in the wasteland heard
the whisper of God’s voice.

3. The wilderness, for Jesus,
was preparation ground
and later, wanting time to pray,
deserted space he found.
So may our journeying take us to
that place of solitude
where God’s own Word, not bread alone,
becomes our daily food.

Rachel Parkinson March 2009

Friday, 27 February 2009

Britons back religious values

Most British people want religion and religious values to have an important role in public life, a new BBC survey has found. The ComRes poll of 1,045 people found 62 per cent in favour. Around the same number (63 per cent) said that British law should respect and be influenced by the UK’s traditional religious values. Despite secularist calls to ‘free’ society from the views and beliefs of religious traditions, the survey demonstrates public support for religious values. Researchers found a higher proportion of Muslims and Hindus supporting the role of the country’s traditional (essentially Christian) values.

Source: BBC (24/2)


This Lent, Premier Christian Radio and the Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) are challenging people to take simple actions that will change the world. As high food prices threaten to push 100 million people deeper into poverty and the global economic crisis persists, the organisations have produced a radio series to remind people that they can make a difference to people living in the world’s poorest communities.

The series, which comprises six internet programmes and exclusive interviews on Premier’s Sunday Breakfast, is based on MRDF’s study pack, What does the Bible say about changing the world? It will focus on Biblical characters and people from MRDF’s overseas work who have made an extraordinary difference. It will also give listeners ideas of simple actions they can take to empower some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

The President of the Methodist Conference, Revd Stephen Poxon, recorded the biblical reflections for the series. He said: ‘I am thrilled to be a part of Premier’s Lent series and to champion the work of MRDF. I recently visited its project for street children in Bangladesh, where I saw love in action as vulnerable youngsters were cared for by people who could have been doing less risky work. Through my reflections, I hope to encourage us to nurture this kind of selflessness in our everyday lives.’

Peter Kerridge, Premier’s Chief Executive, said: ‘These programmes are of great importance because they do not only highlight the global crisis that we face, they offer listeners ways to respond to the issues and make a real change through MRDF.’

MRDF Director Kirsty Smith said: ‘We are excited about our collaboration with Premier Radio for this Lent series. The MRDF staff have been privileged to meet ordinary people overseas, as well as within the UK, who are helping to make a tangible difference in some of the world’s poorest communities. We are delighted to have this opportunity to tell some of their stories and to reflect on Biblical principles that inspire us all to use what we have to change the world.’

The internet programmes can be downloaded from Exclusive live interviews with people who have seen MRDF’s work first-hand will feature on Premier’s Sunday Breakfast between 8-10am until 12 April, 2009. Listeners can order MRDF’s study pack, What does the Bible say about changing the world? for use in their house groups and youth groups from

Source; Methodist News Service 27/02/2009

Methodist Church Engages Young People

Methodist Church rises to the government’s challenge of engaging young people

The first UK Christian denomination to employ young people in a new youth strategy has pushed the boundaries of youth participation.

Eight 17 to 23-year-olds have begun part-time jobs on the Church’s Connexional Team in order to lay the foundations for the future employment of 32 District Youth Enablers spanning the Church’s 32 districts from September this year.

This is the first stage in a £4 million, five year Youth Participation Strategy that will see at least 32 young people between the ages of 16 and 23 employed on 12 month contracts for 15 hours per week each year for four years.

The strategy is a ground-breaking initiative designed to engage young people in the life of the Church. One of the many activities District Youth Enablers will be involved in is looking at ways knife and gun crime can be tackled by young people. They will have the opportunity to take up placements associated with Church projects and the wider community, such as youth offending institutes.

Mike Seaton, Director of Children and Youth, said: “The strategy is about helping the Church engage with a diverse group of young people, to learn what issues are pertinent to them and then to respond and develop accordingly. It has implications for the mission and ministry of the whole Methodist Church and could influence the direction the Church takes.”

The strategy puts Methodism at the Christian forefront of youth participation work alongside other secular agencies such as the National Youth Agency. It also addresses some of the recommendations set out in The Good Childhood Inquiry, the UK’s first independent national inquiry into childhood, published this month.

Meg Prowting, Children and Youth Development Officer, said: “Young people have a great deal to offer and can stimulate adults and organisations to think and work differently. The Youth Participation Strategy is about investing in the development and involvement of young people so that they are engaged in the life of the Church at every level.”

Some of the new interim District Youth Enablers found out about the vacancies through the UK Methodist Facebook group and others through the Methodist Youth Conference.

Neil Bolus,17, from Coventry, said: “I came across the post completely by chance on Facebook and so I emailed the Youth President to find out more about it. I am looking forward to letting other people know what is out there in the Church and how they can get more involved.”

The eight employees’ contracts will run until August when interviews to fill the year-long, part-time posts will be well under way. The posts aren’t just open to young Methodists, but to any young person who has an interest.

Lydia Barlow, a 21-year-old Theology student at York St John University, said: “I have a passion for bringing new things to the Methodist Church through my local preaching and through the various activities I am involved in. “My aim in this job is to try and figure out ways in which youth are already working and find out where the gaps are and ways in which they can be filled.”

Source: Methodist News Agency 27/02/2009

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Urgent appeal for Braille Bibles

Odile Ouedraogo was 18 when she encountered the Bible in Braille for the first time.
‘I cannot believe it!’ she cried. ‘I can read with my fingers in my language. This gives me such strength!’

Someone goes blind every five seconds.
314 million people in the world are either blind or cannot see clearly
The Bible in Braille lets people read God’s life-changing message for themselves, at their own pace, in their own way.

Find out how to make this happen at or by calling 01793 418222.

Please pray:
‘I used to cheat in my exams, now I don’t,’ said 14 year old Adisa.
He is one of thousands of Ghanaian school students who have received Bibles as part of the ambitious project to distribute a million Bibles to Ghana’s youth.

Please keep Bible Society in your prayers by downloading our weekly prayers at

Lost Followers!

Grannie Annie recently reported that she had lost one of her followers and was anxious to contact whoever that follower was. To lose one follower is upsetting, but this morning I find that I have suddenly lost five followers in one day! i hope I am not being boycotted for some strange reason? Or has my blog become too boring? Whatever the reason, it is disappointing. Of course i am aware that lots of bloggers are spending more time on Facebook these days and so some of my followers may have found that they have had to cut down on the number of blogs that they follow. Whatever the reason, I am grateful for those who are still with me and I will try to post some interesting blogs in the future - when time allows.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

"From Eden to Eternity"

National roadshow 9-28 March 2009
The award-winning Saltmine Theatre Company will combine forces with Wycliffe to present an original roadshow based on the Bible in 15 venues across England, Scotland and N Ireland in March 2009.

The show with no end and no beginning
(all over in one hour)

Welcome to the story of everything - the Bible - in an hour - brought to life on stage by Saltmine Theatre Company. Journey with us through tragedy and tears, music and mirth, serpents and salvation!

"In all Saltmine produce they are professional, polished, thought-provoking and entertaining" Jeff Lucas – International Speaker and Author

In the second half of this unmissable evening Wycliffe Bible Translators will share an inspiring glimpse into how the Bible is being brought to life today in Nigeria.

Mon 9th Westminster St James The Less
Tues 10th Tunbridge Wells Holy Trinity with Christ Church
Wed 11th Southampton Testwood Baptist Church
Thu 12th High Wycombe King's Church
Fri 13th Reading Woodley Baptist Church
Sat 14th Northwood Emmanuel Church
Mon 16th Halesowen Zion Christian Centre
Wed 18th Nottingham Trent Vineyard
Fri 20th Liverpool Kingsway Christian Fellowship
Sat 21st Glasgow Adelaide Place Baptist Church
Tues 24th Belfast Willowfield Parish Church
Wed 25th Bangor Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church
Thur 26th Broughshane Second Broughshane Presbyterian Church
Fri 27th Belfast Orangefield Presbyterian Church
Sat 28th Portstewart Portstewart Baptist Church

The event will start at 7.30pm and finish by 9.30pm

View an online video about the tour on

Box Office Hotline – 01384 454808 or online here

Tickets: £6

Concessions & groups over 10: £5*

Groups over 20 receive 5 free tickets**

*A £1.50 booking fee applies to all orders

**Except Westminster

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Two thirds of 18-24 year-olds want more hours in the day

Ever feel that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day? If you’re a member of the younger generation, chances are you’d like more time to squeeze in your to-do list.

In a YouGov survey commissioned by the British Methodist Church, participants were asked how much more time they would like in the day in order to get everything done and have a little extra time for themselves.

65% of 18 to 24 year-olds said they would like more time in the day, with 28% wishing for at least a 27-hour day. But the older generation (aged 55+) proved more relaxed, with 69% saying they were happy with the day as it stands.

But the Church is challenging people to spend a small amount of time making a big difference to the way they live their lives with its Still Time Lent campaign.

The campaign is supported by a website ( where people can sign up to receive daily email reflections and challenges from five different contributors.

Contributor Revd Dr Mark Wakelin, said; “Some of us would love to have more hours in the day, but it’s amazing the difference that we can make in just five minutes. Still Time is about using our time wisely in order to enhance every area of life.”

Each day of the week will have a different focus, with ‘time for you’ on Mondays, followed by ‘time for others’, ‘time for God’, ‘time to share’ and finishing the week with ‘time to act’.

“Still Time is a challenge to all who have given up, feel rushed off their feet, or think it’s simply too late to do things differently,” continued Mark. “Still Time is about making time that gives us ‘eternity in our hearts’. There’s still time for others, for ourselves, for God – still time to make a difference in the world and begin to discover the people we were always meant to be.”

Source: Methodist News Service 19/02/2009

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

February meeting of the Methodist Council

The Methodist Council met on 16-17 February at High Leigh Conference Centre in Hertfordshire. This is the second of three meetings planned for the current Church year.

In a ground-breaking new initiative, the Council approved the appointment of three Companions to work with particular international partner churches. The Companions are the first to be appointed in a pilot scheme that will seek to strengthen the Church in its relationships with partner churches around the world. Revd Jennifer Potter, Revd Ward Jones and Revd Conrad Hicks will specifically work with churches in Zimbabwe, Korea and Guatemala respectively.

The Revd Ken Howcroft, Secretary of the Methodist Council, said; “We are really pleased to have made these appointments and hope that this scheme will develop and strengthen the international work of the Church. The Companions will be able to offer a greater presence in specific areas than has previously been possible, offering the support of the British Methodist Church to our partner churches in some of the areas of greatest need.”

The Council also pledged support for the Stamp Out Poverty campaign. Stamp Out Poverty is a network of organisations including Christian Aid and Oxfam which campaigns for additional sources of finance to help bring the world’s poorest people out of poverty. It urges UK and international decision-makers to introduce a stamp duty on sterling currency transactions, setting aside proceeds for international development objectives.

Children’s charity Action for Children featured on the agenda, with Council members approving a strategy for closer working between Action for Children and the Methodist Church on international issues. The Church’s World Church Relationships team will seek to identify areas in which Action for Children might be able to offer specific expertise and support, and will seek to include them in relevant work with partner churches around the world.

Closer to home, Council members discussed the development of the Church’s ecumenical vision for working with other British denominations, including how local churches might be encouraged in such partnerships. As a practical expression of the Church’s commitment to ecumenical working, the Council also pledged to invite a representative from the United Reformed Church’s Mission Council to attend future meetings as a participative observer. A representative from the Methodist Council will also attend Mission Council meetings and the two bodies will explore the possibility of a joint meeting to be held in 2010.

Christine Elliott, Methodist Secretary for External Relationships, said; “This development in our relationship with the United Reformed Church enables us to be more intentional about finding new and practical ways of engaging in mission together.”

Other topics discussed at the Council included the Church’s engagement with the media, the need to support local churches in fostering discipleship and the Church’s pension schemes for ministers and lay employees.

Source: Methodist News Service 17/02/2009

Methodists in war-torn Sri Lanka appeal for help

The British Methodist Church urges people to pray for displaced Sri-Lankans on February 19.

As fighting in Sri Lanka reached a climax this month, the Methodist Church in Britain has urged people to pray for hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians.

Reports from the President of the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka have revealed the extent of the devastation. Rev Ebenezer Joseph said that 95 per cent of the seven congregations in the Wanni region had been trapped in an area now under control of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

“The Methodist Church of Sri Lanka has received reports of civilian causalities in the Mullaitivu District, which seems to take place even in areas disclosed as ‘safety zones’,” said Rev Joseph.

“Therefore, we appeal to the Government of Sri Lanka to take all measures to prevent civilian causalities in the present military campaign. We appeal to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to allow free movement of civilians to safer areas without forcibly detaining them or using them as human shields. “We make this appeal to both warring parties purely on humanitarian grounds keeping the innocent civilians foremost in mind.”

All seven Methodist Churches in the region have been displaced, but relief work has continued. The Methodist Church in Britain called for people to use day 19 of the Methodist Prayer Handbook to pray for an end to people’s suffering in war-torn, northern Sri Lanka.

Rev Joseph said: “The conditions for the ordinary civilians are very, very difficult. We also extend relief to those families who have managed to come out of the Wanni and who are now in various camps in the Mannar and Vavuniya areas and the Jaffna Peninsula.

“We also need to be ready to reconstruct the Churches and help with settlement of the people once the people are allowed to return back to their dwellings in the cleaned areas.”

Further aid from the Fund For World Mission, which gave £20,000 in October, will be sent out to the Church to help people rebuild their homes and their lives.

Anyone wishing to donate to the Fund For World Mission’s aid relief to Sri Lanka can do so online at the World Church page or contact Steve Pearce, Partnership Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific, at the Fund For World Mission on 020 7467 5161 or via email

Source: Methodist News Service 17/02/2009

Friday, 13 February 2009

A Varied Programme

For bloggers who are also musicians, I shall try to describe the very varied music played by the Nationl Methodist Youth Brass Band on Saturday 7th March at Caversham Heights Methodist Church, Reading.

"Deep Harmony” (The first piece ever played by the band.)

The quick march “Punchinello” by Rimmer with a solo by one of the band who is studying music at Salford university.

Peter Graham's New Zealand piece “Hine e Hine"

“Don't it make my brown eyes blue” by Brian Blessed with Heather, a cornet player for 13 years, 4 of them with this band, and playing for the last time with the NMYBB.

“Londonderry Air”

Then Oliver who has been with the NMYBB since 1995 and is a trumpeter and conductor took over the baton to conduct music from the film “Out of Africa”, with Matthew playing for the first time with the NMYBB playing the 1st baritone solo.

“Dee Zee” (which is Dutch for “The Sea”. First written for a football occasion, this piece contained several solos.

“The Bass in the Ballroom” provided a wonderful opportunity for Duncan to play the E Flat Major solo on his Bass Trombone.

“James’ Patrol” contained several well-known tunes like 'You for me’, ‘'My Highland Laddie'’ and 'Auld Lang Syne' and it ended as described in my precious post, much to everyone's amusement.


When we returned to our seats, the music of “Birdland" allowed the percussionists in particular to entertain us with their skills.

Next, three cornet players gave us an expert rendering of Leroy Anderson's “The Bugler's Holiday”

Rebecca from Barrow in Cumbria humorously introduced music from Andrew Lloyd Weber's “Cats”, inviting us to guess the cat - the tomcat, the ginger cat, the scaredy cat and the Persian cat.

Oliver played “Andante” by Roger Thorne and was followed by

“The Muppet Show” arranged by Philip Harper.

We then enjoyed a beautiful setting of “Amazing Grace”before the final item of

“The Pirates of Penzance” which brought the concert to a fitting climax.

In response to the loud applause and cries of “Encore”, the band treated us to a very special setting of “Crimond”.

It was a very professional and entertaining evening and we still had the morning service of worship with this very talented and dedicated Christian band.



We continued our Centenary celebrations last weekend when the National Methodist Youth Brass Band under their principal conductor Jennifer Spencer gave the second concert in the series celebrating the 100th Anniversary year of Caversham Heights Methodist Church to a capacity audience at the church on Saturday 7th February 2009

The band was formed in 1987 and was honoured to have the founder, Norman Avery, in the audience. The band draws its membership from around the country and has a core membership of around 50, whose ages range from 14 upwards. The players come from far afield, (currently Aberdeen to Guernsey) and they give 5 concerts a year, leading the worship in the host church the following morning. They rehearse on the Friday evening and the Saturday morning, and have the Saturday afternoon free to enjoy themselves exploring the locality. Proceeds are donated to Methodist charities and this event raised over £600, which was donated to the Methodist Relief and Development Fund that supports the poorest of the poor in the world through long-term development aid.

Several members of the band provided short introductions to pieces, and to the soloists, and it was a novel twist for the band members to exit two by two at the end of the first half leaving a somewhat demented percussion player on his own, needing to be physically removed!

Their concerts usually start with "Deep Harmony" as this was the first piece performed by the band back in 1987 but their repertoire is wide ranging, taking in items including "Amazing Grace" and selections from "Cats” and “Out of Africa”, as well as solos featuring members of the band. One of the soloists was 14 year old Matthew, playing with the Band for the first time, who had travelled on his own by train for 6 and a half hours to reach us from Lincoln!
When we saw snow-covered Britain on the TV, we wondered if it would be possible for us to have the planned concert, so all the band members were to be congratulated on the way they got to Caversham Heights in spite of many difficulties.

Just before the last item, "Pirates of the Caribbean", a member of the band offered a short homily highlighting the Christian principles that guide the work of the band. He said, "The theme for our devotions this weekend is 'Thanksgiving'; the way we give thanks to God through our day to day lives and our music, and how we can give thanks to God in times of trouble. When we feel God is far away, God is faithful to us so that, taking His hand, He will guide us through." The band’s motto is Fun, Faith and Fellowship. Finally, the encore was "Crimond" (with modulations reminiscent of Elgar).

Any young Methodist interested in joining the band can download an application form from the band’s website He/she must be at least 14 years old, have achieved Grade V satandard on his/her instrument and must be playing regularly with a local brass band.

This was a very talented and professional performance much enjoyed by the appreciative audience - even though it was one of the coldest nights of the year.
Accommodation was provided in the church hall, with camp beds and blow-up matresses loaned by church members, and substantial and very satisfying meals were served to the band from Friday evening through to Sunday lunch by a large team from the church.

The Sunday morning service was greatly enriched by the way in which the Band led our morning worship, playing all the music, not just the hymns, and four members of the band reading the lessons. Our Minister preached the sermon and it was a very joyful and inspiring service. Thank you to everyone!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

God became one of us in Jesus

We have just begun to study of St. John's Gospel in our Disciple 4 group, and for our homework last week one of the questions we were asked was-

God came to us in Jesus. God became one of us in Jesus. Those words sound simple, but their meaning is not. How do you understand "the Word became flesh"?

When we shared our replies, my answer caused a very lively, almost heated, discussion. I had written, 'Jesus became human in every respect like us except without sin, yet He was still part of the Triune God, with God's foresight and insight.' My friends disagreed vigorously with the second half of my reply, saying that if what I had written was true then Jesus was not truly human. But I argued that if 'God took on human flesh' He would not relinquish his Divine qualities but could become fully human and be Divine at the same time. This led to remarks about that making Him into a superhuman, not a human exactly as we are - and they believed that Jesus was fully human, like us in every respect and no more than us.

The following questions seemed to me to agree with my statement because they referred to 'the divine-human Jesus'. The other questions were -

What about the divine-human Jesus draws you to Him?

What about the divine-human Jesus pushes you away?

What does allegiance to the divine-human Jesus require of you?

Simply to speak of the incarnate Jesus as completely human cannot be the same as to speak of the divine-human Jesus, surely?

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Methodist Church welcomes celebration of Darwin Day

· Methodists pay tribute to Darwin’s ground-breaking theory of evolution

The Methodist Church has welcomed a day of celebration dedicated to the achievements of scientist Charles Darwin during the year marking his 200th birthday and 150-year-old theory of evolution.

Methodists praised Darwin’s ground-breaking work on the theory of evolution, On the Origin of Species, which sparked a scientific research programme that has continued to this day.

The Revd Dr Philip Luscombe is Principal of Wesley House, Cambridge, and President of the Cambridge Theological Federation where he teaches Systematic Theology, Preaching and Religion and Science.

He said: “Christians believe that God created the world. Charles Darwin gave the first successful scientific account of one important part of God’s creation: how life developed from the simplest of forms into the extraordinary variety that we see around us. In doing so, Darwin ruled out some of the ways in which many had assumed that God worked. But as he himself was clear, nothing that he wrote affected the majesty of God in creation.

“An early Christian commentator on Darwin’s work wrote that, ‘Darwinism appeared, and, under the guise of a foe, did the work of a friend.’ Darwin cleared away many misconceptions and helped us towards a better understanding of the truth.”

Philip, whose major research interest is the relationship between science and theology, said that Darwin’s thesis demonstrated the power of the theory of evolution through natural selection.

“The human genome project is only the latest example of research which is ultimately inspired by Darwin,” he added. “All modern biological science relies on the foundation Darwin provided.”

“We join in celebrating the life and work of Darwin because he helped us all to see better the intricacy of God’s creation, and forced us to wrestle once more with the eternal problems of good and evil.”

The Revd Jenny Ellis, Spirituality and Discipleship Officer, said: “Darwin’s scientific theory of the mechanics of creation frees us to appreciate the ‘faith’ truth of the Biblical stories and the precious value and giftedness of God-inspired creation. The stories convey the sense of the wonder and goodness of creation; of the creative, divine Spirit who brings it into being and sustains it; of creation’s deep inter-connectedness, its rhythm and balance.”

Source: Methodist News Service 12/02/09

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Concern expressed over BBC changes

In a letter to the BBC’s Director General, the Methodist Church has expressed ‘deep concern’ over the announcement of immediate structural changes to the BBC’s Religion and Ethics department.

The Manchester-based Religion and Ethics team will be combined with the BBC’s Factual department and the newly formed Factual and Religion department will be managed from Birmingham.

The full text of the letter follows:

Dear Mr Thompson,

We write to you to express our deep concern over the recent news of structural changes to the BBC’s Religion and Ethics department.

The Methodist Church would like to express our gratitude for the outstanding work of the BBC in the field of Religion and Ethics, on television, on radio and online. The BBC’s creativity and authority in their engagement with a vast range of ethical issues, faith groups and life stories not only reaches individuals to whom these matters are important, but also resources public awareness and debate, enriching the life of the nations.

We are seeking your reassurance that under the newly formed Factual and Religion department this work will not only continue to the high standards already set by your dedicated team, but will be given the space and resources to creatively develop.

We would like to express our pastoral concern and offer our prayerful support to all staff directly affected by these changes as they make this transition.

Yours sincerely,

Revd Dr Martyn Atkins
General Secretary of the British Methodist Church

Revd Stephen Poxon
President of the British Methodist Conference

Mr David Walton
Vice-President of the British Methodist Conference

Source: Methodist News Service 07/02/09

Friday, 6 February 2009

Our Psalmody

Since my friend's Psalm of Snow that I posted on Wednesday delighted readers, I thought you might like to share a couple of the Psalms of Praise that were written by members of our Disciple 4 Group as homework for our last session on the psalms. We were told to use Psalm 103 as a model to tell of God's blessings and victories in our lives. Normally, we would share these at our next meeting but, it was cancelled because of the snow and these psalms were emailed to all our members.


Praise God!
Praise you O Lord my God for calling me to belong to your family.
Thank you for enabling me to fulfil the work you have given me to do.

Not a Service goes by without You giving me Your words to say.
You supply my thoughts and words so that I can Praise You,
and lead Your people in Worship.

I can trust you Father God, to help me when I call, and to quieten my fears.
You still the fear within me.
You stop my stomach churning and my mind doubting.
You bring to my mind your words of encouragement and Praise.

I love Your word!
May I always depend on it and on Your Holy Spirit's power.
Praise the Lord!

(Inspired by a service I led yesterday)

This gave us a taste of what it must be like to study in the new Disciple Online communities.


Praise the Lord, O my soul, for He has done marvellous things. I will praise the Lord as long as I live for the way He has loved me, guided me, chided me, picked me up when I was down, set me on my feet again and strengthened me over and over again.

He forgives my faults and my backslidings; he heals me over and over again in body, mind and spirit; he rescues me from those who would do me harm and surrounds me with His love and the love of so many friends;

He fills my life with an abundance of good things; and assures me that He will take care of me for the rest of my life. He never leaves me, not even when I sometimes forget to come to Him in prayer and praise.

I will praise the Lord for His wonderful creation, giving us fruit and food in all seasons and animals to care for and cherish. The beauty of His creation is beyond our words of praise as we are inspired and enheartened by the splendours of the flowers and trees, the clouds and the seas – too many to enumerate. Praise the Lord for all the marvels of His creation.

Praise the Lord for His endless, limitless love. He cares for each one of us like a father, with great tenderness and sympathy, and he even goes before us to prepare the way for us and ease out the difficulties. His watchful eye and loving arms are there to protect us when we fall, and in great gentleness He remakes us so that we have the power and strength to carry on; he suffers when we suffer; he weeps when we weep, and he laughs when we laugh. Praise the Lord for his wonderful love and care.

Come praise the Lord with me, all of you who rely on His loving care and bounteous provision!

Put A Little Grace and Hope In Your Pocket

With economic recession looming large and severe weather conditions causing chaos, some may feel that 2009 has got off to a rather gloomy start. But the Methodist Church is offering a little bit of hope and grace with their hugely popular ‘In Your Pocket’ booklet series.

Grace In Your Pocket and Hope In Your Pocket are just the latest editions to hit the press following the success of earlier publications on the themes of peace, prayer and joy. Since the series began in 2006, more than 150,000 booklets have been distributed.

Series Editor, Joy Fisher, said: “In a world facing financial meltdown, grace and hope may seem to be in short supply, but the booklets remind us that these values can transform our everyday lives.

“Prayer In Your Pocket and Joy In Your Pocket were hugely popular and we’ve found that churches are frequently using them for visiting neighbours and friends and for prayer groups. It goes to show that people really do want this kind of resource.”

Grace In Your Pocket was inspired by a sermon given by the President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Stephen Poxon at the 2008 Methodist Conference. He described grace as being, “loved completely...and there are no conditions... only this overwhelming sense of being loved."

The booklets are ideal for mission-related activities and public events. Some of the contributions have been specially written, while others have been drawn from well-known authors such as Martin Luther King, Jane Austen and Superman star Christopher Reeve.

Eighty thousand Grace and Hope booklets have been produced and a copy of each will be sent out to Methodist Ministers.

“Hope is like the wing of an angel, soaring up to the heaven, and bearing our prayers to the throne of God,” 17th century clergyman, Jeremy Taylor, is quoted as saying in Hope in Your Pocket; designed to offer hope in the midst of a busy life.


Grace in your Pocket and Hope in your Pocket are available from Methodist Publishing House (MPH) in packs of 50 at £5.00 per pack incl. p&p. The booklets are available in PDF or PowerPoint form on the Methodist website.
NOTE: Link from MPH to:

Link from Methodist website to:

Source: Methodist News Service 06/02/09

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

A Psalm of Snow

"Blizzard conditions on the M4. Reading buses suspended. Bristol buses suspended. An overnight snowfall of 10cm (4 inches)in Reading and 20cm (8 inches)on higher ground and in Gloucestershire. More than a hundred schools closed. Seondary schools Kendrick and Reading, Prospect and Hugh Faringdon are closed. Right across the country local authorities are rapidly running out of salt and grit after 4 days of snow, so much so that further supplies will need to be dug out of the ground! The Highways Agency has enough to keep the main roads open but it's a different story for the local authorities. There is a warning of more heavy snow to come today."

This is what greeted me when I switched on to BBC Radio Berkshure early this morning
and I looked outside to a beautiful white winterscape. Among the list of schools closed was Caversham Park Primary School, but I see that Caversham Primary School across the road from me is open, as it was yesterday. It closed on Monday when the first heavy snowfall struck, and I had the joy of seeing and hearing lots of children sledging in the public Balmore Walk that runs across the top of our back gardens. At other times of the year, I enjoy watching children flying their kites up there.

Now, a few hours later, there is a light drizzle of rain and the thaw is beginning, making the pavements very slippery and dangerous. The mothers bringing their children to school were having difficulty if they had younger children in prams. I've just seen the first bus go past my house, but the bus ccompany say that they are running on modified routes to avoid the steep hills that are still very icy. I've been staying indoors to avoid falling but yesterday I had an appointment at a GP clinic and I had to get a taxi because the pavements were like skating rinks.

As I posted earlier, we are expecting to host the National Methodist Youth Brass Band tomorrow for the weekend and, as we listen to the snow bulletins from all over the country, we are wondering what sort of journeys these young musicians are going to have to reach us from their homes all over the country! We are doing all we can to keep them warm and well fed while they are with us, but we hadn't reckoned on such severe weather for their travel. The Traffic Control have just broadcast a warning of some treacherous roads because of black ice, and callers are reporting cars spinning sideways and one said 'I've just seen four people fall down near Sainsbury's'. Yesterday, a meterologist told us that he didn't see an end to this wintry weather until at least St. Valentine's Day - so be prepared!

On Monday,Our Disciple 4 Group meeting was cancelled because some people couldn't get there on ubtreated roads, so one of our members emailed us all this poem that he had written _

A winter psalm

1 Every scintillating snowflake, praises God,
Crystal clear icicles are the work of his hands:
Diamond clad boughs, twinkling in the starlight,
praise the Lord as they dance to the wind’s gentle melody.

2 Snow bedecked roofs and sparkling ice drops,
declare that I am is I am the Lord of all creation.
Crunchy white lawns and frost covered rocks,
Cry out ‘He creates, He reigns, Halleluiah!

3 Every snowflake the work of his hands,
every glacier, ice shelf and crevasse,
created by Him for his delight
says He is Lord of all.

4 Robins and chaffinches squabbling in the snow,
All fed by your hand chirp praise to your Name.
Squirrels and sleepy dormice snuggled down,
are kept warm by the Lord of all Creation,

5 For every atom of your creation;
planed for all eternity.
The vapour of our breath, given to us by the Eternal God,

6 Children built snowmen and the errant snow ball,
created from heaven sent snow flakes, tell out the story of a creating God
Frozen ponds and twirling skaters, toboggans racing down with tumbles and tears
Tell the story of a Creator God who cares.

7 Ice bergs and polar bears penguins and seals
Edelweiss and snowdrops peaking from the snow,
Reflect the glory of the Creator,
the God of all.

8 With every beat of my heart,
All the praise that I can give ,
Will be yours alone,
For as long as I live

Dave Tottingham

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Churches’ Media Conference 2009

My friend Tony Miles is inviting faith leaders tothe Churches' Media Conference and, because i feel that it is important for the leaders of our churches to meet the media people and discuss ways in which they can help each other, I have reproduced below his invitation posted on his blog. I hope it will inspire many to book for this conference. It is an opportunity not to be missed.

"IMPACT! Media shaping culture shaping faith

What impact does the media have on society? What impact can people of faith have on the media?

The Churches’ Media Conference 2009 will ask what story the media is telling about our society and its values. We will invite the production community to look at itself in the mirror and ask what values are shaping it. And we’ll ask whether churches and other faith communities can discover new and constructive ways to exercise influence in the new media environment.

I’m writing to let you know that bookings are now open. The conference will take place from Monday 8th - Wednesday 10th June 2009 at the Hayes Conference Centre, Derbyshire. To book your place just go to

If you don’t have a password you can register on the site.

The Churches’ Media Conference provides a unique opportunity for media professionals and faith leaders to engage in a lively debate about the impact of the media on society. Once again we’re grateful to our friends at Bible Society for joining us as principle sponsors of the conference. And once again we’ll have a bursary fund to support those who would otherwise not be able to attend.

Please would you help us get the word out by forwarding this information to anyone you know who may be interested in joining us."

Don't miss this opportunity to have your say.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Venturing on new ground – Church reaches out to young adults

The Revd Ian Bell has been appointed Pioneering Ministries Coordinator, overseeing a major new initiative designed to reach out to young adults who have no contact with the Church.

The church is investing £7 million over ten years in the scheme, entitled venture fx, which will seek to recruit 20 lay and ordained people who demonstrate vision, motivation and the ability to inspire others. Over the next five years these people will be appointed to pioneer new Christian communities among the 20s to 30s age range in 20 different locations. They will be offered support and training and will be able to build new, viable independent Christian congregations rooted in the Methodist tradition.

“Increasing numbers of people have little or no understanding of the Christian story and might find the idea of going to church strange or irrelevant,” said Ian, “This is the challenge that the church is facing and we have to develop new models of church that speak to people about where they are in life and the issues that matter to them. venture fx is about tackling this challenge head on, meeting people where they are and challenging perceptions of what ‘church’ should look like.”

Ian is currently Superintendent Minister of the South West Tyneside Methodist Circuit, where he is developing an emerging church venture at Starbucks in the Metro Centre, Gateshead. In the past he has helped to establish several new expressions of church in the Sheffield and Doncaster areas, including a youth congregation and a cafe-based church.

As Coordinator for the scheme, Ian will be working part time until the end of August 2009, becoming full time from 1 September. You can hear Ian talking about the scheme in the latest Fresh Expressions podcast, available online here: More information about venture fx with a list of FAQs can be found on the Methodist website here:

Source: Methodist news Service 02/03/09