Saturday, 31 October 2009

Getting the best for Local Preachers

First phase of major consultation begins

The Methodist Church is carrying out a major review of training and support for local preachers throughout Great Britain.

This week, questionnaires and discussion documents have been sent to all circuit local preachers’ secretaries and circuit superintendents inviting them to facilitate a review of continuing development programmes for Britain’s 10,000 local preachers.

Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church, said; “Local preachers are essential to the life and ministry of the Church. As a team, we are committed to listening to local preachers about their needs and concerns so that we can offer them better support and training, helping them to live out their calling to the full.”

The first phase of the consultation will ask local preachers about what kind of continuing development programmes they would find most helpful. Each local preachers’ meeting has been asked to encourage all local preachers present to complete a questionnaire about existing and future continuing development provision. Each meeting is also being asked to discuss what the major challenges are for local preachers today and how they can best be supported in their ministry. Documentation to support the consultation is available online at

Speaking of the Church’s duty to nurture and uphold the ministry of local preachers, Revd Dr Mark Wakelin, Secretary for Internal Relationships, said; “Sitting in a pew I want the person leading to know that they are not simply there to fill a plan appointment, but because God has called them, that the Church recognises this and had tried to equip and support that call. I have been most helped when a preacher exudes a sense of their worth and value as God’s messenger.”

A second consultation phase in spring 2010 will specifically consider Faith and Worship, the local preachers’ training course.

Source: Methodist News Service 30/10/2009

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Second Synchronised Blogging Day

As far as I can tell, not too many bloggers took part in the first synchronised blogging day, so perhaps this email might tempt a few more to have a go this second time round.

Hi Bloggers,

Following on from my previous email about DigiMission ( I’d like to let you know that we’re organising another synchronised blogging day, and this time there’s a prize involved!

All we’re asking is that you come up with a creative idea of how Christians can use the digital space to impact mission, and then to blog about it! The date is Thursday 12 November so put it in your diaries, or write something now and schedule it for publication on that day. The top three entries/ideas will each win the full set of Test of Faith materials ( And we have a few extra books and DVDs for honourable mentions. J

Then if you could link back to Slipstream and/or the DigiMission event we’d really appreciate it.

All the details are here, and closer to the date we’ll have a list of all the blogs participating:

Tell your blogging friends all about it.

Best regards
Anna Moyle
Slipstream Administrator

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Pakistan Church calls for an end to religious violence

Call for prayer this Sunday

The leader of the Methodist Church in Britain has welcomed moves by Church leaders in Pakistan which call on the Pakistani government to end religious violence in the country.

This year, violent attacks against Christians have left many dead and made hundreds of families homeless, as many more fear for their safety. Church leaders in Pakistan have formed a Christian Action Forum to address the problem and are lobbying their Government to act to end the violence.

The Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Britain, said, “I welcome this announcement and want to add my voice to theirs in calling for serious and credible efforts from the Government to stem the violence against religious minorities. I also want to extend my sympathy to the families of those who have lost loved ones in the recent violent attacks.”

Martyn affirmed the right of all people to live in safety and worship freely, encouraging Christians to pray for the Church and people of Pakistan, especially on Sunday which is the 39th anniversary of the founding of the United Church of Pakistan.

Steve Pearce, Partnership Coordinator for Asia, is currently in Pakistan and yesterday attended a press conference given by the Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, Bishop Samuel Azariah, and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Lahore, His Grace Lawrence John Saldanha. At the conference, Church leaders called for the repeal of laws which encourage crime and discrimination, especially the controversial blasphemy laws, which have been used to justify violence against Christians.

Steve said, “There is considerable tension in the country following indiscriminate suicide bombings and the assassination of a provincial government minister. All schools must now have armed guards, establishments where girls are educated are particularly worried and many church meetings are being cancelled. It is late in the evening now, and I can hear gunfire in nearby streets.”

Speaking after the press conference, Bishop Azariah commented, “The most important thing about the new Forum is that Christian leaders are now struggling together for the establishment of democratic values in Pakistan and fighting against the discriminatory laws being used against the religious minorities.”

Martyn also invited Methodists in Britain to lobby their representatives at the national and European parliaments to question the Pakistan government about the protection of the rights of minorities in the country. He welcomed the contribution of Pakistani Christians to the life of the Methodist Church in Britain and encouraged local congregations across Britain to offer pastoral support to them during this difficult time.

Source: Methodist News service 27/10/2009

Monday, 26 October 2009

Risky youth initiative ‘part of Methodist DNA’

The Methodist Church’s £7 million initiative to reach unchurched 20- and 30-somethings is part of the ‘pioneering DNA’ of the denomination, its coordinator has claimed. VentureFX leader Revd Ian Bell suggested the project is ‘one of those bold and adventurous schemes that Methodism has from time to time embraced’ and one of which the denomination’s founder, John Wesley, would be proud. Mr Bell invited church circuits and districts to step forward for the scheme, which will initially establish five area projects. The aim is to create innovative worship communities for a generation with postmodern views and no past loyalty to organised religion. ‘It will be scary, but it will not be boring!’ commented Methodist Connexional Team spokesman Revd Dr Howard Mellor.

Source: Methodist Recorder (22/10)

Friday, 23 October 2009

Brighter Future for Young Girls

Schools Minister Vernon Coaker officially opened state-of-the-art buildings at Reading Girls' School and Kendrick School on Tuesday October 21st.

Mr. Coaker visited Reading Girls' School in Northumberland Avenue, Whitley, where he opened a £5.5 million post-16 learning centre. The centre will provide facilities for young Mums who want to return to education with an on-site nursery for children. It also provides purpose-built hair and beauty salons for girls who want to achieve vocational qualifications such as hairdressing or leisure or tourism. Thames Valley University will run the courses at the centre, which was funded by Reading Borough Council and the Learning and Skills Council.

Mr. Coaker also opened the new Sixth Form Block at Kendrick School as well as its new Faraday Building for Sixth Form students. The £3.15 million Sixth Form block at the London Road school was developed as part of the Kendrick Federation that was formed between Kendrick and Reading Girls' Schools in 2007. It was built using £2.3 million funding from central government and the balance from the borough council's capital programme. It provides a common room and library for students. The new block means that the school can also increase its Sixth Form by 50 pupils and provide better learning resources.

The £1.2 million Faraday Building is an extension to the main school building. It features laboratories for Sixth Form students and was funded by £150,000 raised by the school, while the rest was funded by government and the council's capital programme.

Mr Coaker said, "The important thing the people of Reading will want to know is that standards are improving and that young people, whatever their background, whatever their ability, will achieve the very best they can. It's obvious that the council has improvd standards across the board. I think Reading has demonstrated that, in the federation of those two schools, to the rest of the country."

Marsha Elms, Executive Head of the Kendrick Federation, said, "We are thrilled to be leading an initiative which will serve the women of all abilities across Reading."

Viv Angus, Headteacher of Reading Girls' School, said, "It is indeed an innovative project which I am confident will greatly enhance opportunities for girls."

Jon Hartley, lead councillor for education and life-long learning, added, "These superb new facilities show the real benefits to both schools of being in a federation. Everybody involved should be proud to have been able to make these ambitious projects a reality."

Source: Reading Post

It gives me great pleasure to post about this - not least because my daughter was educated at Kendrick School before going on to study Classics at Leeds University and much later to teach English in Vietnam, where she set up a charity in Ho Chi Minh City in memory of her father (my husband) which, for seven years now, has trained disadvantaged young people in hairdressing - see .

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Churches call for an end to ‘credit slavery’

This week, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church have called for transparency in money-lending and greater protection for borrowers.

In a submission to the Office of Fair Trading, the Churches assert that money-lenders must give borrowers all the information necessary to make a sensible decision about borrowing.

The submission also criticises the practice of credit dependency, also known as ‘credit slavery’. The Churches assert that lenders should only lend money if a borrower can pay both the interest and the loan amount within a reasonable timescale.

Paul Morrison, Public Issues Policy Adviser, said, “This is an issue that Methodists have been concerned about since before we knew we were Methodists.”

The first Methodist building run by the Wesleys was called the Foundry, as it was the old military cannon works in Woolwich. The upstairs was used for meetings and worship, the downstairs was a loan dispensary to help people to escape exploitative and violent moneylenders.

“Debt and exploitative lending are just as much a problem today as they were in the early days of Methodism. Poverty often means that people come to loans companies in a situation of urgent need and are willing to accept exploitative rates of interest. Borrowers should be treated with dignity and respect, and their lives must not be crippled by the need to service unpayable debts.”

Source: Methodist news Service 22/10/2009

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Faith in England Podcast

Anna Drew, the Lead Media Officer of the Methodist Church Connexional Team, writes:-

Hope you’re having a good week. This is just a quick note to tell you about the BBC’s weekly faith podcast. Called Faith in England it is presented by Songs of Praise host Diane Louise Jordan and BBC London presenter Jumoke Fashola.

Each week the podcast captures what's going on and what's being discussed in communities served by the 40 BBC local radio stations. The 30 minute programme can be heard worldwide and will interest people living abroad as well as those at home.

Please do check it out. Barely a week goes by without someone coming to me raising concerns about the future of religious broadcasting on the BBC. So, here’s a fantastic example from the good people at BBC regions. Like all BBC podcasts, it’s free and the BBC are encouraging people to link to it through their own church websites.

And the best thing? You can access it though the News pages on the Methodist Church website:

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Two churches threatened by noise complaints

Two London churches have voiced fears for their future after noise abatement orders were served on them. Immanuel International Christian Centre in Walthamstow and All Nations Church in Kennington have both had to cut their sound levels after neighbours’ complaints. In the case of Immanuel Church, the order was served even after they cut their services from two to one and reduced their sung worship to only 40 minutes. Pastor Dunni Odetoyinbo told The Evening Standard that his congregation had fallen from 100 to 30. Pastor Victor Jibuike, meanwhile, said he believes complaints against his church are nothing to do with noise but have been prompted by opposition to their plans to turn a disused school into a community centre.

Sources: Church of England Newspaper (16/10); Christian Legal Centre

Friday, 16 October 2009

Eating Well with Kidney Failure

Following on from my post last Saturday
Potassium is the key , I am pleased to report that I have now obtained a book of 50 recipes that have been tried and tested to create a healthy diet for anyone with kidney malfunction (from those just slightly affected to those who have to undergo dialysis). It also contains good advice and helpful hints for making sure that your restricted diet contains enough protein and vitamins and for limiting the salt, phosphate and potassium in your diet without it being boring and inadequate.

So I can recommend "Eating Well with Kidney Failure - A practical guide and cookbook" to anyone who has been told to limit their phosphate or potassium intake. It deals with all levels of kidney malfunction and can make life much easier and meals much more interesting. It is written by Helena Jackson, Annie Cassidy, and Gavin James,'with the help and support of our renal and dietetic colleagues at St. George's and King's College Hospitals', and is published by Class Publishing, Barb House, Barb Mews, London W6 7PA .

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Beyond reach?

Having already posted a recent sermon by John Madeley, I now have pleasure in introducing a new book by John Madeley which will be published this week:-

Beyond Reach?
Publication date: 17th October 2009

When a feisty young married woman inspires a church minister, known for his inappropriate choice of women, to join a campaign to end poverty, the result is an explosive mix that takes them into a world that neither bargained for.

Set in 2005 this novel is an eye-witness account of the Make Poverty History campaign, of the scrapes and joys of campaigning for a just cause.

Taking the reader through English suburbia, to Gleneagles in Scotland, and Niger, West Africa, John Madeley tells a sensitive, witty story of a relationship between people who are dedicated to ending poverty, Their relationship energises them for the campaign, leading them to a devastating exposé of government duplicity.

Anyone who took part in the Make Poverty History campaign, who bought a wrist band, who now wants to see the end of poverty, or who just wants a good read, will find this an inspiring book.

‘A revealing story about a scandal of our time, witty, sharp - and above all urgent’ - Rosie Boycott

‘In this amusing novel, John Madeley links modern ethics and politics with the age-old issues of relationships and the meaning of life. All this, with serious intent, too’ - Tim Lang

‘In the tradition of Saturday, this outstanding novel weaves together the world of public events with the private world of individual lives’ - Carl Rayer

‘Be warned, this book could change your life’ - Ann Pettifor

Methodists Take Action on Climate Change

In case you stop reading before the end of this News Bulletin, I want to draw your attention to the challenge 'Everyone across the connexion is invited to comment'. Please read carefully, on this Blog Action Day:-

Copies of Hope in God’s Future – a report and study guide addressing climate change – are flying off the shelves just days after the first printed editions became available.

The first print run of the booklet has sold out and Methodist Publishing has ordered a second run.

Hope in God’s Future takes the reader on a journey using the changing mood of a worship service as a framework for considering climate change and people’s effect on the planet. It outlines the position of the Methodist Church, The Baptist Union and The United Reformed Church on climate change and invites people to see how deeply faith connects with the challenge facing us.

Thaddeus Dell, Carbon Reduction Policy Officer at the Methodist Church, said: “Hope In God’s Future gets people to understand the science and how this is linked to our Christian theology. Climate change is the greatest challenge to the Church in our generation. The science is overwhelming and it leads us to a moral obligation. It is especially important for people to engage in these issues ahead of the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.”

The 2009 Methodist Conference adopted sections one to four of Hope in God’s Future as a draft Conference statement. This means that everyone across the Connexion is invited to comment before it returns to the Conference in 2011.

The study guide offers the full text of the report, as well as ideas for creative activities, inspirational prayers and worship, help and advice for leaders, and suggestions for group sessions lasting one or two evenings or even a whole day.

Copies of Hope in God’s Future are available from Methodist Publishing at £5.00 each, with discounts offered for bulk buys of 10 or more.

Source: Methodist News Service 15/09/2009

Where is God in all these diasters?

Where is God in all these disasters?
by John Madeley

An earthquake in Indonesia, a tsunami affecting Samoa and Tonga, a
typhoon hitting Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia, devastating
flooding in South India, severe drought in Kenya and Ethiopia.
Hundreds of people dead, tens of thousands displaced. Suffering on a
massive scale. It all happened in a week in late September this year.

What is going on? Where is God in all these disasters? Why doesn’t God
intervene to stop them? These are fair questions. The meaning of
suffering is difficult for us to answer, but what we do know is that
God gives a free will. In that sense God is vulnerable to our choices.
If we chose to exercise that free will in a way that is damaging for
others, and for ourselves, God does not stop us.

God gives us freedom, to choose the right or the wrong path. If we
choose the wrong path, it will grieve God’s heart, but God does not
stop us, does not act like some giant policeman in the sky. God the
Son died on the cross 2000 years because people decided he should die.
They exercised their free will. God did not stop them. The world is
not God’s puppet theatre.

God guides us to use our free will in accordance with his will for us.
But if we ignore it, if we turn away from God, if we abuse natural
resources, then consequences may follow.

We should stop calling disasters “natural disasters”. Severe floods
and droughts, hurricanes. typhoons and cyclones are occurring at twice
the rate of 40 years ago. They are not as natural as they seem, they
are more related to the way we live than they appear. Disasters are
increasingly related to climate change, to emissions of carbon, to the
world’s heavy use of energy. And that includes our use of energy.

A few years ago, Christian Aid published a report entitled “Unnatural
Disasters”. It said that rich nations such as Britain were condemning
poor countries to an "ever increasing number of overwhelming
humanitarian catastrophes".

Climate-related disasters, which kill thousands of people and cost
millions in terms of providing aid to stricken populations, are
manmade and should no longer be termed natural disasters, it said.

But what about earthquakes? 98% of people who die in earthquakes die
not because of the earthquake itself, but because buildings collapse
on them. They are related to poverty. On tsunamis, we know from the
2004 tsunami that here nature's barriers were intact - mangroves
forests along coast lines for example - there was far less damage. New
tourist hotels, shrimp farms etc had caused many to be removed.

Where is God is these disasters? God is with those who suffer. And God
is with us, calling us to be more responsible stewards of the
beautiful wold he created.

What can we do? At the very least we can support the 10/10 Initiative
- cut our emissions of carbon, our use of electricity, gas, oil, by
10% by the end of 2010. Cutting our emissions is vital if our
children, our grandchildren are to have a future. It’s vital if
children women and men in poor countries are to have a present. Where
is God in all this? God is working in us.

Based on a sermon given at Caversham Heights Methodist Church on 4th October.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Potassium is the key

Sorry to have kept you all wondering what has happened to me! I seem to have had all the possible health check-ups coinciding in the last few weeks and diet seems to loom importantly in all of them! But such conflicting advice only confuses me, the patient, and makes me wonder what I CAN eat safely without triggering some other weakness in my anatomy.

I now think that potassium is the key, but what a complex subject that is! What a bewildering list of foods contain potassium, and then you have to learn which foods are high potassium foods and which are low potassium foods and choose your diet accordingly. That sounds simple, but it isn't, for, if you are trying not to consume too much potassium, you not only have to avoid eating the high potassium foods but you also have to beware of eating too much of any of the low potassium foods!

So the equation is:- How to eat well, keeping this balance and at the same time making sure that you don't lose any more weight? It's even more of a conundrum when you have a garden full of delicious apples, tomatoes, runner beans and brussel sprouts (nearly ready) and only me here to eat them all! It's not fair! (I've eaten all my own-grown potatoes and carrots for this year.) I've also got my broad beans in early and they are now two inches high. I do love broad beans!

I was so happy with my 'healthy' home-grown fruit and vegetables (and piled my plate high!), and I loved the advice to 'eat five fruits and vegetables a day', but now I must limit myself to such small servings at a time. And when I eat out in a restaurant? That doesn't bear thinking about at the moment!

Well, now that I've got that off my chest, there's nothing for it but to discipline myself in regard to meals - and to give away much of the produce that I would normally be eating! Spare me a thought sometimes, please!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Appeal for disaster victims in Indonesia, Samoa and Tonga

An appeal for prayer and funds for victims of the tsunami and earthquake tragedies in Samoa, Tonga and Indonesia has been launched by the Methodist Church in Britain.

The Church’s World Mission Fund granted £10,000 to aid the relief work of partner Churches in the region.

Steve Pearce, Partnership Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific, said: “As ever our partner Churches will feel enormously supported knowing that Methodists in Britain are praying for them. The appeal and grant money will go to partner Churches, which are playing an important role in rebuilding communities.”

Anyone wishing to donate to the appeal can do so online here: or by sending a cheque payable to the World Mission Fund and posting it to Dave Bennett, Fundraising Coordinator, at Methodist Church House, 25 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5JR. Postal donations should be labelled ‘Pacific Appeal’.

A State of Emergency was declared in Tonga for Niuatoputapu, the closest island to Samoa with a population of around 1,000 people. The General Secretary of the Free Wesleyan Church in Tonga is due to travel to Niuatoputapu by boat today. The 1,000 inhabitants of Niuatoputapu island have been badly hit by the tsunamis and earthquakes which have rocked the area. Food, clothing and kitchen utensils are set to arrive in Niuatoputapu by boat tomorrow.

Steve added: “I have been unable to reach the President or the Methodist Church headquarters in Samoa by phone, but it is clear that the Church will be heavily involved in the recovery both spiritually and pastorally in the weeks to come.”

In Indonesia, the main centre of the earthquake damage has been in Padang on the island of Sumatera. The Methodist Head Quarters is in Medan more than 1,000 miles away.

Steve continued: “We have not heard news from the Methodist Church in Padang as yet. We have sent an initial solidarity grant and will respond further to our partner Church as their need becomes clearer. I have assured the church and its members of our prayers and support.”

Updates on the partner Churches in the affected region will appear at as soon as news is available.

The following prayer has been posted on the Methodist Church in Britain’s website and churches are encouraged to use it during worship on Sunday.


Loving God,

Who cares ceaselessly for all creation,
We pray for the people of Samoa;
That they may know your pacific touch in these days of earthquake and tsunami,
That the ocean, the moana, may continue to surround and sustain them,
That your compassion may help women, men and children
Live with the loss of their loved ones,
Overcome the destruction of their homes and livelihoods and
Deal with the fear of what the future may hold.
Let us feel the breeze of your Spirit in the sails of our companionship with the Island peoples of the Pacific and
Let us see the light of your presence as we plot the course of our common Discipleship within your worldwide Church.


Source: Methodist News Service 02/10/2009