Saturday, 30 May 2009

Biblical-scale Ark brings hope to Hong Kong

A full-size Noah’s Ark has opened as a multi-million dollar tourist attraction in Hong Kong. The project is the brainchild of Thomas Kwok, a Chinese evangelical Christian and co-heir to the island’s largest real estate developer, Sun Hang Kair Properties (SHKP). Located on a 270,000 square foot site, the Ark has five themed levels, 67 pairs of fibreglass animals and is surrounded by an adventure park, stadium and other attractions. Although it is inspired by Mr Kwok’s faith, the project is intended to have a wider appeal. SHKP say the Ark offers the hope that the current financial storm will soon be over and, in the long term, it will ‘promote positive values of love for life, family and nature’.

Source: Christian Today (29/5)

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Church dedicates resources to children and young people

The Methodist Church has continued its commitment to empowering young people with the appointment of a Youth Participation Development Officer.

Jude Levermore will dedicate her time in the newly-created post to enabling young people engage in the life of the Church and their communities.

Jude, whose previous job involved working with socially excluded young people at The Witney Ecumenical Youth Trust in West Oxfordshire, said she was really excited about the challenge.

“The Methodist Church has recognised that without the involvement of young people, there is not much hope for the Church,” said Jude.

“The vision is to renew the Church through young people. Participation is all about getting young people involved at every level. As a society, we have lost the ability to hear what young people say. That is part of the breakdown in society. We have become frightened of young people and actually they have so much energy and potential. As a society, we have stifled their ability to change the world.”

Jude will coordinate a regional participation network as well as making sure that the annual Youth Assembly works as planned and that young people’s voices are listened to. As part of the Methodist Church’s £4 million Youth Participation Strategy launched last year, gap year students will be given the opportunity to work on projects tailored to their interests, be it rural work or work combating gun and knife crime.

“It is all about developing the potential of young people to serve God and their communities,” said Jude. “The community is where Methodism started; it is a social action gospel movement for social change through an encounter with God. It is about allowing young people to make a difference.”

Mike Seaton, Director of Children and Youth, said: “The appointment of Jude as the youth participation development officer is an exciting and essential step forward in the implementation of this project. Jude joins the team with a vast amount of experience in managing complex projects, Christian youth work in a range of open and church-based settings and developing and delivering professional training for workers.”

Source: Methodist News Service 28/05/2009

Monday, 25 May 2009

Churches urged to take action ahead of European Elections

On 4 June 2009 every adult in the UK will have the opportunity to vote in the European Parliament elections. There will also be some English County Council elections.

Methodist President The Revd Stephen Poxon said, “Voting isn’t just a right - it is a privilege that carries great responsibility. A high turnout at the ballot box is good for democracy and society and will make it harder for extremist parties to succeed.”

Source: Methodist E News 04/05/09

Norfolk churches under threat

Climate change is threatening churches in Norfolk as sea levels rise. Five churches along the River Thurne now stand on far less land than they used to as their grounds are swept away. ‘Communities are just floating away,’ said Kate Smith, a local historian. ‘We’re not talking about an act of Natural England [the government's advisor on the natural environment]. We’re talking about an ironic act of God.’ However, government plans to maintain the sea defences until 2048 should protect the Norfolk churches for the next 50 years, but locals are concerned at the fate of the churches after that time, if sea levels continue to rise.

Source: BBC (20/5)

Boris Johnson backs Global Day of Prayer

The London Mayor, Boris Johnson, has come out in support of the Global Day of Prayer. The initiative is a capital-wide prayer event to be held on Pentecost Sunday. All of London’s 33 boroughs are taking part. This year local and civic leaders plan to come together in prayer. A video message from Boris Johnson will be shown at each prayer meeting.

Source: Christian Today (20/5)

Friday, 22 May 2009

Starbucks! Can the Church sip from this brew?

Starbucks! Can the Church sip from this brew?' askd one of our newest Methobloggers over on He is fascinated by Starbucks' marketing policy and popularity, and contrasts it with the way the Church presents itself to the world.

Appeal for Sri Lankan Churches struggling with refugee crisis

The Methodist Church’s Fund for World Mission is working with local churches in Sri Lanka to deliver immediate aid and relief.

The Church is appealing for people to help alleviate the suffering caused by the conflict by donating to the Fund.

A £15,000 grant from the Fund for World Mission will be sent to Sri Lankan Church leaders to help assist victims affected by the Sri Lankan humanitarian crisis and to take initiatives to build peace. The gift follows an earlier £20,000 Fund for World Mission grant made in October after around 200,000 residents in the Wanni region in the north of the country became trapped by heavy shelling and aerial bombing.

Revd Ebenezer Joseph, President of the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka, said: “The willingness of the Methodist people in the UK really strengthens us. The demands are increasing as the number of refugees rises. Our needs for the next six months may be something around Rs 20 million (£113,000) at least.

“Please continue to pray specially for the people who are caught in between. It’s God grace alone that enables us to continue with what could be done without just giving up.”

Stephen Poxon, President of Methodist Conference in Britain, wrote to Church leaders in Sri Lanka last week.

“As I travel around Britain you and your nation are mentioned and upheld in prayer in almost every church and fellowship meeting I attend,” he said.

“We pray for an end to violence and hatred, for healing and reconciliation to come and that lasting peace which is born out of there being justice for all. We continue to stand alongside you and seek to respond to your growing needs as we are able.”

David Bennett, Fundraising Coordinator, said: “People’s generous giving over the years has enabled the Fund for World Mission to respond immediately to the crisis in Sri Lanka with support totalling £35,000.”

“This, however, is just the start. Donations are still needed by our Partner Churches to continue this vital work and we now need to top up our reserves so that we can respond just as quickly to similar situations. Please support our work with Partner Churches by making a donation to the Fund for World Mission. You can do this by sending a cheque to the below address (quoting the reference SR59) or by making an online payment through”

Source: Methodist News Service 22/05/09

The End of an Era

My blogging is a bit irregular just now owing to the death of my cousin on Saturday and the difficulty of arranging a funeral service in the Methodist Church in Ripon from a distance, tracing all the many relatives, and making sure that they all know about and agree with all the arrangements being made. I think we have now nearly completed everything. He was an only child and never married, so his next-of-kin are cousins like me. I've booked Bed and Breakfast accommodation but I am still beseiged by emails and phone calls.

The Minister who knew my cousin went to Australia to visit relatives on Monday and a nephew of mine who had been helping with the arrangements has a week of competitions in Surrey, having been a medallist in the past, so I feel that everything rests more on me now! I found that the 16th Century rambling farmhouse' (as the Internet advert calls it) that belonged to my uncle and the deceased's Uncle when we were children is now a B & B but it is too expensive for me and too far out of Ripon for this trip.

My cousin is now at peace, having spent the last 4 years of his old age being well-cared for in a Nursing Home. He used to love acting as a guide for visitors to Ripon Cathedral. As another cousin said, 'It's the end of an era.', because we have now lost the last link with Ripon and all our childhood memories.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


Evangelical Alliance hosts Money; Let’s Talk seminar to urge and equip Christians to address financial issues head on

Churches are failing their members and communities by avoiding talking openly about money and debt, says the Evangelical Alliance.

The Alliance wants to equip churches to avoid shying away from money taboos and to directly address financial issues, especially during the current financial climate. The Money; Let’s Talk seminar, as part of the Pentecost Festival, will provide a proactive way of taking up this challenge.

Chris Tapp, Director of Credit Action, said: “Money is generally seen as a very private subject and this all too often leads to reluctance on the part of churches in discussing financial matters. However it is an absolutely crucial issue for Christians to tackle especially today when so many in our churches and communities are struggling desperately with money and debt issues.

“Unfortunately pastors and church leaders may feel ill equipped to address the topic and that’s why we want to give practical advice and encouragement to people who can then teach and support others in the area of money management. Money; Let’s Talk is a fabulous opportunity to do this.”

This seminar, hosted by the Evangelical Alliance on Saturday 30 May from 2-5pm at, will look at how Christians can respond to the economic situation, address financial concerns and will emphasise the vital contribution Christians must make practically in their local area and how to participate in the ongoing conversation.

Through interactive group discussions and expert speakers, Money; Let’s Talk will examine how we talk about money and the vital role that churches must play in fighting insecurity, unemployment and debt. This event aims to enlighten, encourage and equip attendees to teach on and support others in these areas of life

The day’s sessions will be led and informed by Chris Tapp, Director of Credit Action and John Preston, the National Stewardship and Resources Officer for the Church of England.

Money; Let’s Talk is part of the Alliance’s Life Beyond Debt campaign and is free to attend but those interested in participating in the discussion are asked to register at When registering online, attendees are given an opportunity to win two free cinema tickets to see the film Son of Man, showing at 6pm the same day in Leicester Square.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

TV Actresses support Christian Aid Week 2009

Two former soap actresses are fronting this year’s Christian Aid Week appeal. Good friends Suranne Jones and Sally Lindsay, who have both starred in Coronation Street, went to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to see the charity’s work for themselves. Christian Aid Week (10-16 May) has been running longer than any other fundraising week, and every year thousands of volunteers organise fundraising events or do door-to-door collections. The UK-based aid agency is supported by most Christian denominations and provides relief and development assistance regardless of race, religion or culture. Suranne and Sally met Christian Aid partners who are supporting HIV positive women and young children.

Source: (14/5)

Methodists Support Foster Care Fortnight

The Methodist Church is encouraging its own members and other denominations to promote fostering. Methodist charity Action for Children is supporting the call of Foster Care Fortnight for more parents to consider caring for vulnerable children.
Running until May 24, the Fortnight is an annual campaign led by the Fostering Network charity, which says there is an ‘urgent need’ for more foster care. Action for Children hopes people looking for new work due to the current recession might see fostering as a new vocation. Fostering manager Susan Cotton says: ‘Many [individuals] do not realise that fostering is a professional career where people not only receive a reasonable salary, but also extensive training and support.’

Source: Methodist Recorder (14/5)

MPs urge Christians not to lose faith in politics

Christian politicians across the spectrum are hoping the current expenses row will not turn Christians off politics. Speaking to the Baptist Times, Tory MP David Burrowes said: ‘The important Christian response is – yes, be concerned, be upset, be angry – but also be one of the few groups in this country to affirm the importance of praying for and supporting politicians and Christians in politics.’ Burrowes is parliamentary chairman of the Conservative Christian Fellowship and shadow justice minister. Christian Socialist Movement director Andy Flanagan and Liberal Democrat Christian Forum spokesman the Revd Simon Wilson also warned against the growth of cynicism.

Source: Baptist Times (14/5)

Church erects £35,000 contemporary Jesus statue

A sculpture dubbed 'Jesus in jeans' has been unveiled at an East Sussex church. The seven-foot high bronze statue by Marcus Cornish portrays Jesus in jeans and a shirt with a modern hairstyle. Father David Buckley praised his congregational committee’s choice of design: ‘On the continent you often encounter modern representations of Jesus… We wanted a figure of Christ not in suffering but dynamic and welcoming. We felt this design summed up the spirit and activity of Christ perfectly.’ The artwork was funded by the late Winifred Gregory, 87, a member of the congregation at Our Lady Immaculate and St Philip Neri Catholic church in Uckfield, who died last year.

Source: The Daily Telegraph (13/5)

Friday, 15 May 2009

Muslim heads up BBC’s religious TV output

The BBC has attracted controversy by giving a Muslim the job of head of religious programming. It is the second time in the BBC’s history that a non-Christian has been appointed to the post, but Aaqil Ahmed will be the first Islamic believer to take up the role. The other previous non-Christian was an agnostic, and was also a recent appointment – Alan Bookbinder in 2001. The decision comes despite the Archbishop of Canterbury voicing his concerns about the sidelining of Christian programming to the BBC’s director general last month. Ahmed is a former Channel 4 executive. Meanwhile, the BBC has appointed a Methodist local preacher, Christine Morgan, as the new separate head of religion on radio.

Sources: The Guardian (11/5); Methodist Recorder (14/5); Daily Mail (13/5);

Dean tells 2,000 nurses that prayer is vital to health

The Dean of Westminster Abbey says spirituality has a key role to play in modern medicine, and Christians shouldn’t feel they have to pray in secret. The leading clergyman criticised the NHS decision to suspend nurse Caroline Petrie for praying for a patient. Speaking in a sermon to almost 2,000 nurses at the annual Florence Nightingale service, the Very Rev John Hall said that believers were increasingly keeping their faith to themselves for ‘fear of offending others.’ Yet this should not be, because prayer is ‘not a sin and should not be regarded as an offence’ and ‘the human spirit and spiritual health is fundamental to healing and wholeness.’ The service was attended by health workers from the NHS, armed forces and private sector.

Source: Daily Telegraph (14/5)

Churches see hopeful future for nuclear disarmament

Three British Churches have expressed optimism following the conclusion of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee meeting in New York.

Leaders of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church are hopeful that real progress towards global disarmament will be made over the next 12 months in the run-up to the NPT Review Conference in 2010.

However, the Church leaders expressed their disappointment that the UK Government continues to support the replacement of Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons system, while also participating in global disarmament discussions.

“I am alarmed by the Government’s inconsistency,” said the Revd Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. “How can it promote disarmament on the one hand, but be in favour of retaining British nuclear weapons on the other? We want to see all decisions on the replacement of Trident put on hold until after the 2010 Review Conference.”

Revd John Marsh, Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, said: “New nuclear weapons will cost the British tax-payer billions of pounds. Given that we are already struggling financially, and facing a massive burden of debt, this is particularly obscene. We urge the Government to think again. Parliament must have the opportunity to reconsider major spending in the light of the constraints on the UK economy and the progress on disarmament.”

Steve Hucklesby, Policy Adviser for The Methodist Church, added: “World leaders now have the best chance in years to make positive steps towards total nuclear disarmament. We need decisive leadership to make it happen. Nuclear weapons are totally immoral as their possession implies a willingness to commit mass murder.”

Source: Methodist News Service 15/05/09

More than half a million people to be invited ‘Back to Church’

Churchgoers around the world are set personally to invite more than half a million people to services on Back to Church Sunday. The event will be one of the largest co-ordinated ecumenical evangelism events staged across Britain.

Christians across the UK and further afield are encouraged to invite someone they know who used to attend church to come back on 27 September 2009.

Methodist President the Revd Stephen Poxon, said “This is a wonderful initiative and I encourage all of our Methodist Churches to be involved. We must also give thought and time to how we continue the warmth of welcome every Sunday of the year so those coming among us will want to stay to find friendship and deepening faith.”

Back to Church Sunday was originally an initiative of the Church of England, but this year will be supported by the Methodist Church, Churches Together in Scotland, the Church in Wales, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the United Reformed Church, Elim Pentecostal churches and Anglican churches in Australia, Argentina, New Zealand and Canada.

Celia Lawton-Livingstone was invited to St Luke’s, Colchester, on Back to Church Sunday in 2008 by her friend Carole. Now Celia attends church regularly, has joined the worship team and hopes to be confirmed later this year. She comments: “I was surprised when I got to the church that morning. It was different to what I’d imagined, and the people were very friendly. I didn’t feel like they were trying to shove religion down my throat, they let me make up my own mind. It was a very relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, just like one big family. I would recommend it to others: you never know where it could lead you. My whole life has changed completely in the last year.”

The initiative is supported by a website ( ) and resources such as special welcome T-shirts and subsidised party packs of fairly-traded drinks and snacks, produced in partnership with Traidcraft.

Source; Methodist News Service 12/05/09

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Welcome to new Methoblogger

Allow me to introduce you to my friend and Minister, Dermot Thornberry, who is now blogging at - all about bridges to date! Why not pop over and give him a welcome?

No hugs please, we’re men

Hugging, handholding and discussing feelings are big turn-offs for male churchgoers, a new survey of 400 men reveals. Three-quarters said they wanted worship to challenge them intellectually and spiritually and almost the same proportion chose the sermon as their favourite part of a service. Sixty per cent said they enjoyed singing but preferred ‘proclamational’ hymns to emotionally-based songs. Findings of the research, conducted for Sorted magazine, will be discussed in a seminar on men in church at next week’s Christian Resources Exhibition (12–15 May). The Sandown, Esher event is expected to draw up to 13,000 people from all denominations.

Sources: Daily Telegraph (5/5); Methodist Recorder (7/5)

Louisa's Second Birthday

Last weekend I had the joy of going to Kent to share in the second birthday party of my great-granddaughter, Louisa. her parents are house parents at Bethany School, where because of the credit crunch there are fewer boarders this term and none upstairs in their house. So my daughter-in-law brought pillows and duvets and I and my son and his wife were able to sleep there on Saturday night.

After breakfast, Louisa had great fun carrying all the things from the breakfast table to the kitchen one at a time - first, each jar of jam or marmalade, then the milk (which produced the word 'heavy'), etc. 'Heavy' seemed to be a new word and came out several times during the day. It was lovely to see how helpful she was, so that will be a great help to her mother in the next few months.

Then we had a session when she was showing me her books and I read one story and she identified colours in another book designed for that purpose. Then gradually the rest of the family started arriving until she had two grandmas and one great-grandma present. I told her that I was her Mummy's grandma, so after that I was sometimes, 'great-grandma' and sometimes 'Mummy's grandma'.

With each new arrival there were more presents, of course - to the delight of everyone! I took her a (foundation) train set that is complete in itself but can be added to ad infinitum. I also took two pretty tops for her to wear with her skirts or jeans. She was so delighted with these that she insisted on putting them both on one on top of the other, so that she wore three tops for the rest of the day. Someone else brought her some summer shoes and she had great delight in trying them on and taking them off all day. The most successful present was a toy birthday cake with candles that could be taken off and put on again. It was divided into 5 slices,which each had a small area of Velcro in the middle so that they stuck together and it had to be cut with the little knife supplied. Louisa quickly went for her toy plates and, on and off for most of the day, she was busy cutting slices of cake and handing them round on her little plates. Since there were more than 5 of us, it was interesting to watch her deciding who was to have the next slice. The other present that kept her busy for quite a time was a toy gardening set. She loved the gloves with pretty pictures on them, but invariably got them on the wrong hands and had to change them. Eventually, she decided to put them in her (new present) toy rucksack and she put that in her bedroom. So the next time she wanted to use her new watering can, she ran into her bedroom to get her new gloves from the rucksack! She spent much time watering everything with her new yellow watering can. In fact she spent so much time doing 'grown-up' things like serving cake and watering that, when it came to bedtime, she found that her doll Rosie had not been out of bed all day! She had given Quentin, her cuddly toy dog, a walk round in his push chair though.

There were too many of us to sit round the table in the dining room for lunch, so we all ate outdoors where the garden has several wooden table-cum-benches, so we were glad that the weather was fine, if a little on the chilly side. We were back inside for the birthday cake, which finished off a very successful second birthday party, enjoyed by all - until Louisa noticed that we were all preparing to go. Then she burst into tears, saying, 'People going. People going.'

With a new little brother or sister due in September, there'll be two birthday parties next year - but in Stourbridge, not in Kent. Something else to look forward to in 2010!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


Centenary celebrations at Caversham Heights Methodist Church, Reading, continued with a very joyful day with the return of a number of former members of 30 years ago for the visit of former minister the Revd Terry Harris, who took as his theme ‘Rising to the occasion’. Other visiting preachers will be the Right Revd Bishop Crispian Hollis, Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth on May 24th at 10.30am and The Revd Jackie Case, Superintendent Minister of the Methodist Portsmouth Circuit on June 7th at 10.30am.

Bishop Crispian Hollis was born in Bristol in 1936, educated at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire (1946-54). He was then in the Somerset Light Infantry for National Service, after which he went to Balliol College Oxford to read history, though more cricket than history! After that, he went to the seminary in Rome to study for the priesthood and was ordained in 1965. After a year in Amesbury (Wilts) as a curate, he went back to Oxford as chaplain to the Catholic students and stayed there till 1979, when he went to the BBC as Roman Catholic Assistant to the Head of Religious Broadcasting. That lasted until 1981 when he went to Clifton Cathedral (Bristol) as Administrator and stayed there till 1987 when he became Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, resident in Oxford. He left that post in 1989 to become Bishop of Portsmouth where he is to this day. In the Bishops’ Conference, he has been in charge of communications, ecumenism, and European affairs and currently is Chair of the Dept for International Affairs. Recent visits overseas have included Iran, Iraq, Zimbabwe and South Africa. He have also been a member of the Pontifical (Roman) Council for Social Communications.

The Revd Jackie Case grew up in Caversham and in the Caversham Heights Methodist Church, where she gained high marks each year in the annual Scripture Examination, won a long-service medal for JMA (Junior Missionary Association), taught in the Sunday School and became a Local Preacher.Educated at Caversham Primary School, Kendrick School and Bristol University, Jackie went on to teach at the Cox Green Comprehensive School, where she was Head of Religious Studies for many years, Head of Year with pastoral responsibility for the care of 150+ students and is remembered for an eventful trip to Russia! When called to the Methodist ministry, Jackie trained at Oxford University before ordination in St. Asaph’s Cathedral, North Wales, in 2003, and spent several years in ministry in Eastleigh before becoming Superintendent Minister of the Portsmouth Circuit.
Jackie's ordination at St. Asaph's Cathedral, 2003

The climax of the Centenary Year is the actual Centenary Anniversary that falls on the weekend of June 20th and 21st, with a display of ‘Items of Interest’ of the church over the 100 years in the church vestibule throughout the month, a Flower/Art Exhibition from 10am to 4pm on June 20th when the Church will be open to the public and coffee/tea and biscuits will be served. There will be an opportunity to buy Fair Trade goods from the Traidcraft Stall.

The visiting preacher at 10.30am on June 21st will be the Revd the Lord Leslie Griffiths of Pembrey and Burry Port. An Anniversary Cake will be cut in the Hall during coffee after the service and a Celebration Lunch (including a Hog Roast) for the church family (by tickets purchased in advance) will be held at the home of Ken and Barbara Macrae. Lord Griffiths was ordained in Haiti and his first British appointment was to both Caversham Methodist Church (Gosbrook Road) and Caversham Heights Methodist Church, where he served from 1974-1977 before being recalled back to Haiti to deal with a severe crisis there. Back in Britain, he was elected President of the Methodist Conference for 1994-1995. He returned to Caversham to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of his Ordination at the Gosbrook Road Church on 21 January 1998. For many years now he has been Minister of Wesley’s Chapel, his house and the Museum of Methodism in City Road, London, with a multi-cultural congregation and many visitors from all over the world to this treasured Methodist site.

The last visiting preacher in this month of celebration will be the Revd Canon Brain Shenton, Rector of St. Mary the Virgin Church in Reading at 10.30am on June 28th. Canon Shenton needs no introduction to
Caversham people because of his role in many civic ceremonies in Reading and, in particular, those relating to the town’s twinning with Dusseldorf.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Kidnapped nurse prays for attacker

A nurse who was discovered locked in a car boot within hours of death has said she will pray for her attacker. Magdeline Makola, 38, an Edinburgh cardiology nurse, was bound and gagged and locked in her own car boot for ten days before she was found. On Boxing Day, Justice Ngema, 35, a failed South African asylum seeker, had forced his way into Miss Makola’s home and forced her to give him the pin numbers to her bank cards. Despite the incident, Miss Makola said, ‘I feel no anger towards him, only pity. I wish him well in the future and I will pray for him.’ She said she ‘spent a lot of time praying’ during her ordeal and ‘Praying gave me a lot of strength’.

Source: Daily Telegraph (24/4)

Friday, 1 May 2009

Twitter and pray, Primate advises

The leader of Ireland’s Roman Catholics has urged social network users to create ‘a sea of prayer’ by sending text, twitter or email prayers. ‘Make someone the gift of a prayer,’ Cardinal Sean Brady, Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh, told worshippers. The Cardinal was speaking at a Mass in honour of Father Patrick Peyton, who promoted prayer by encouraging families to pray through the Rosary. ‘Father Peyton had a gift for using the most up-to-date means of social communication’ and ‘was pioneering in his use of television’, Cardinal Brady explained. ‘I ask young people to [send] their friends an occasional twitter or text to say that you have prayed for them.’

Sources: Daily Telegraph (28/4); Catholic Herald (1/5)