Saturday, 15 May 2010

Service of Thanksgiving

Service of Thanksgiving for Olive

On Wednesday 26th May, services will be held as follows:

1 pm Reading Crematorium, Henley Road , Caversham ( family and close friends )

2.30 pm Service of Thanksgiving at Caversham Heights Methodist Church , Highmoor Road , Caversham, Reading , RG4 7BG

followed by a reception in the Church Hall.

No flowers please.

Donations in memory of Olive may be made to the "Edward Morgan Foundation" in support of the education of the disadvantaged, account number 88667391 sort code 60-04-38

They may also be sent to:
A.B.Walker & Son Ltd., 36 Eldon Road , Reading RG1 4DL

Saturday, 8 May 2010

With Great Sadness

It is with great sadness that we have to announce that our Mum, Olive passed away on the 5th of May, 2010 in the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

We would like to offer our warmest, heartfelt thanks to all who have followed her blog, enriching her life with interest and happiness.

She will be greatly missed by all those who knew her.

Tony and Sheila Morgan.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Ban the Bomblet

Ban the bomblet – Churches celebrate the Cluster Munitions Act

Methodist, Baptist and United Reformed Church leaders have welcomed the passing of the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act today in parliament.

The Act ensures that the UK military cannot use cluster munitions, nor can UK military establishments house cluster bombs for other nations. The Churches have been campaigning for this change for the last two years and were pleased to note the all-party support for the Act arising from strong public support for banning these weapons.

“Five years ago this issue was nowhere on the international political scene,” said Revd Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union. “We added our voice to the growing call to ban these weapons because our faith reminds us of the importance of every life. This Act enables the UK to ratify the international treaty banning cluster munitions – something that has been called for by thousands of people around the world.”

Cluster munitions contain many bomblets, small objects typically the size of a drinks can, which explode spreading shredded metal around the surrounding area. Sometimes bomblets fail to explode, meaning unexploded bombs are left at the scene of conflict.

Revd John Marsh, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church, added: “These weapons are indiscriminate, harming civilians and soldiers alike, and can lay dormant, only to explode years later. It is vital that when a war ends, it truly ends. Unexploded bombs must never maim children after armies have stopped fighting. ”

Cluster munitions have been widely used in conflicts around the globe, but on 1 August this year, an international treaty will come into effect, banning the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions, and requiring countries to assist survivors and affected communities.

Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church, said: “The moral significance of this bill cannot be overstated. It builds upon widespread recognition of key ethical principles that are enshrined in international humanitarian law. When ensuring our own security we must recognise the importance of adhering to these principles.”

Friday, 5 March 2010

Church welcomes Zuma’s ‘soul-searching’

South African churches gave a cautious welcome (23/2) to President Zuma’s call for a
Church welcomes Zuma’s ‘soul-searching’national dialogue on morality. The National Church Leaders’ Consultation said President Zuma’s proposal to examine the soul of South Africa was ‘timely’. The ‘common values and principles’ that formed the country under the leadership of President Mandela had been ‘substantially squandered’, the leaders said. The president’s recent fathering of an illegitimate child provoked strong criticism and was seen as a sign of the country’s declining moral standards. President Zuma told South Africa’s Sunday Times there was a need to agree the ‘values that define a common South African identity’. South Africa’s church leaders are keen to clarify this and establish the ‘sacred’ and ‘inviolable’ value of all human life, regardless of ‘race, class, nationality, religion and political persuasion’.

Source: Church of England Newspaper (5/3)

Only a decade to bring nuclear weapons under control

Only a decade to bring nuclear weapons under control, says PM’s advisor on nuclear proliferation

Now is the time for nations to commit to a world free of nuclear weapons, say UK Churches.

Baroness Shirley Williams is warning that the proliferation of nuclear weapons is one of the greatest threats to the survival of humankind.

The Prime Minister’s advisor on nuclear proliferation made the statement just days after the White House indicated plans for ‘dramatic reductions’ in the nuclear arsenal of the United States of America.

Baroness Williams was endorsing a campaign by an alliance of nine UK Churches, which calls on the British Government to make a commitment to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons, building a safer future for all.

The Churches’ campaign, entitled Now is the Time, joins the World Council of Churches and others in pressing for governments to put all bomb-grade material under international control and commit to making the use and possession of nuclear weapons illegal through a new Nuclear Weapons Convention. They are asking people to sign an online petition expressing support for these aims.

Baroness Williams said: “The proliferation of nuclear weapons and climate change are the greatest threats to the survival of humankind. We have only a few years, at most a decade or so, to control and eventually abolish nuclear weapons. The support of concerned citizens in the UK and elsewhere is vital. The Churches have already played a crucial part in breaking the bonds of debt on poor countries and their leadership on this issue is equally important and urgently needed.”

The alliance includes the Church of England, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), the United Reformed Church, the International Affairs Department of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Scotland and the Archbishop of the Church in Wales. The Churches are voicing these concerns in advance of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference this May, which they believe will be crucial for international disarmament.

The Rt Revd Dr Tom Butler Lord Bishop of Southwark, said: “We cannot tackle the threat of nuclear terrorism by simply rehearsing old doctrines of defence. The simple fact is that more nuclear weapons do not make for a safer world. We must instead turn to the universal adoption of common rules and standards, enforced by international treaties. It is crucial that all nuclear armed states now demonstrate a willingness to redefine their concepts of security.”

“Nuclear weapons instil fear. They are divisive and counter-productive to a sustainable peace between nations,” added Steve Hucklesby, Policy Advisor for the Joint Public Issues Team. “The recent commitment by the United States and Russia to reduce their missiles and warheads has injected new life into non-proliferation and disarmament negotiations. We must grasp this opportunity and commit our governments to the road to zero nuclear weapons.”

Source: Methodist news Service 05/03/2010

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Church leaders urge politicians to take the Pledge


National Church leaders are calling on politicians to commit to responsible campaigning on issues of asylum and immigration, and to act to end the detention of children and families within the asylum system.

The leaders of the Methodist Church in Britain, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church are asking politicians to take the Sanctuary Pledge, which is an initiative of the Citizens for Sanctuary Campaign.

The Revd David Gamble, President of the British Methodist Conference, said, “Politicians must resist the temptation to use asylum as a political football in their election campaigns. We strongly support the Sanctuary Pledge campaign’s call for politicians to campaign responsibly, and not to demean those fleeing persecution and seeking sanctuary in Britain. I hope people will ask candidates standing for election to sign the Sanctuary Pledge.”

The pledge is a commitment to campaign positively and sensitively, helping the public to understand why it is important to offer a safe haven to people fleeing persecution. It also asks politicians to support policies that will end the forced detention of children and families, and to promote awareness of the UK’s long heritage of providing a safe haven for people seeking sanctuary.

The Revd John Marsh, Moderator of the United Reformed Church, said, “By taking this pledge, political candidates will show that they are serious about offering sanctuary to those who cannot find safety in their homelands. As Christians, we are called to love our neighbours as ourselves, and the Citizens for Sanctuary campaign encourages us to do just that.”

“We are particularly concerned about the detention of children and young people in the asylum system,” continued the Revd Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. “There is overwhelming evidence that holding children in detention centres is damaging to their physical and emotional wellbeing. Children are particularly vulnerable, and no matter where they are from, we all have a duty to protect them from harm. We encourage politicians from all parties will sign the pledge and commit to ending the detention of children.”

Source: Methodist News Service 04.03.2010

Saturday, 27 February 2010

China adopts Christianity as its own

China adopts Christianity as its own

Despite occasional clampdowns on unregistered churches, China’s support for Christianity is now official, the deputy of the country’s leading seminary claims. Revd Dr Gao Ying, vice president of Nanjing seminary said, ‘China doesn’t resist Christianity any more. We no longer call Christianity a foreign religion because it has been moulded into our blood.’ With Chinese government records reckoning there are some 28.6 million Christians in its registered churches, Dr Gao admitted that her 220 students are a drop in the ocean in the face of the church’s growth. Every year some 880 apply but the shortage of teachers and premises prevents China’s theological education from keeping pace. Kua Wee Seng, co-ordinator of the Bible Societies’ China Partnership has worked with the Amity Printing Company to produce 50 million Bibles for the Chinese church. ‘This is a time of opportunity,’ he said. < /p> Source: Reform (Mar/10)

Friday, 26 February 2010

what a wedding!

Well, what a commotion I caused when I went North to Pontefract for my nephew,John David's wedding to Annaliese! I very nearly didn't go because the extreme cold weather had left me a bit under the weather and I didn't fancy two days' travelling out of three days when it was so cold. I now know, of course, that i was even then suffering from fluid on my lungs! Had I known that, i would certainly not have risked the journeys. I think now that i was lucky not to have heart failure during that long walk from the furthest platgorm to the taxi rank at Reading, for i had to rest several times.

On the outward journey, all went well with the assisted travel at Birmingham New St., but it was a different story at Leeds! There was a mad scramble to get off the train (and avoid being taken on to Scotland) and the porter was late coming for me. Indicating my case, I said 'It's the green one.', but unknown to me he took the wrong green case and duly put it with me on the Pontefract train. This was a long train and all the carriages were packed, with not even any standing room, so that the porter refused to put me on until we got to the very last compartment and there was just one seat left.

When the guard said 'Pontefract' I alighted and he put my luggage on the platform. I said immediately, 'That's not my case', but he said it must be because there was no other luggage left on the train. When he saw that there was no-one to meet me, the guard said,'I'll just have a word with the driver and then I'll run over the bridge and see if your nephew's in the car park.' He wasn't, so the train went off. Only one passenger got off the train where I did and he said 'I'm not going to leave you here on your own. Where do you want to go?' I told him the name of the hotel and he said, We go past there. We'll take you.' Then he sent a text to his wife who was waiting in the car park to come over the bridge and help. He took my luggage and she helped me up and down all the steps to cross the line, and they took me to the Hotel.

Meanwhile, the bride-to-be was trying to meet her two sisters off a plane from Alicante, and she was texting John D. to say that the plane had been diverted to another airport because of fog!

I asked the hotelier to phone John D. to say I was at the hotel. What neither I nor John D. had realised was that there are 4 stations at Pontefract, and all are completely unmanned. When John D. realised this and that I was probably at a different station to the one where he was waiting, he stationed a member of the family at each station - and then called them off when he got the call to say I was at the hotel. So they all came to the hotel (where they had not planned to be that evening) and we all had a meal together before they went back to Wakefield.

So it was not until I went to my room at about 10pm that I was sure that I had the wrong case - a man's case! Fortunately, I had all my pills and the dressings for my ulcers in a separate bag, but I had nothing else! I had arrived at a wedding with my wedding hat in a hatbox but without my wedding outfit, nightwear or toiletries! So I went downstairs and gate-crashed the bride's hen party to break the news. She said to one friend,'You haven't been drinking, so you can drive! There's a 24-hour place just down the road, so we'll go and get Auntie Olive some things.' When they came back, they had black pyjamas covered with white spots, 3 toothbrushes, enough pants and tights for a week, toiletries like a flannel and soap and toothpaste, etc. - everything they thought I might need! But they forgot my hair! Next morning, before going down to breakfast, I laboriously did my hair with one of the toothbrushes!

Back in my room after breakfast, there was a knock on my door. Two of the bride's friends said, 'Quick! We've got a taxi waiting and we've got instructions to take you into Pontefract to Marks and Spencers and buy you a new outfit!' On the way, they told the taxi driver what we were doing and he said, 'You won't get anything in this M & S because it's very small and they don't have much in the way of clothing.' But a phone call had been made with my age and size and the fact that there wasn't much time, so the ladies at M & S were excited at this assignment and were ready waiting for us. There were just two outfits to choose from and one was very stylish but looked horrible on me. So there was only one outfit, which had a fairly low neckline, so a selection of necklaces was produced to choose from! Then while I dressed and the outfit was paid for the other friend chased off to Boots to buy a comb, and we were back in the hotel before you could say 'Jack Robinson'. Talk about a whirlwind!

Both bride and groom were members of the Police Force, doing the same job in adjacent towns, and when they eventually met they discovered that they had each lost their spouse to cancer a few years back and romance blossomed. So, at the wedding, the bride's two sons (in their late teens) escorted her down the aisle and gave her away and the bridegroom's son, James, was his best man and gave the traditional speech. At the wedding feast, I was seated with John D's, two sisters, Diane and Jill, and their families, so it was a good opportunity to get to know them all better than we can normally do at such distance.

At other times - at the evening celebration and disco, and at breakfast - the other people seated at the table with me were mainly policemen and their wives or members of the Gun Club and the conversations reflected this. The bridegroom, John D., is a Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist in shooting, so much of the talk was of competitions at Bisley and the next Commonwealth Games in August in Portugal.

The next day, when it came to my return journey, we had no idea which of the 4 stations I was supposed to depart from, so my great-nephew, James, decided to take me to Sheffield to catch my train there. On the way, he enlightened me as to why I had been regarded as such a special wedding guest, when he said that I was very special to him because I was the only link with his grandfather (my brother) who had died when he was only five years old. So, in spite of all the extra commotion I caused, it was just as well that I did make the effort to go to this wedding! I'm still waiting for the wedding photos to come, because, of course, my own camera went off in my case up to Scotland!

The cases? The one I'd been given by mistake belonged to a young man who apparently worked for a Norwegian firm. Since there was no other address, this firm was phoned and asked to let its owner know where it was and he eventually phoned to say that he would collect it. My case ended up in the Lost property at Edinburgh and I had to pay for its return by courier - after embarrassingly having to identify its contents.

Christian vote could swing General Election

Christian vote could swing General Election
The results of the next General Election could be determined by which party can appeal best to Christians, theology think-tank Theos has claimed. Current forecasts suggest ‘We’re in hung parliament territory,’ Theos director, Paul Woolley, said. And while a Theos survey showed that support for Conservatives had risen from 21 to 34 per cent since 2005, among Christians it has only crept up from 38 to 40 per cent. The survey revealed Christians almost evenly split with 21 per cent thinking the Conservatives have been most sympathetic to them and 20 per cent feeling this about Labour. ‘Labour is in a position where it could benefit from reaching out especially to Christians,’ Mr Woolley said. Christian attendance at the ballot box is usually strong – with 48 per cent saying they are ‘absolutely certain’ to vote. And 81 per cent of 18- to 24-year-old Christians told an Evangelical Alliance survey they would be making use of their first vote.

Sources: Church of England Newspaper (26/2); Church Times (26/2)

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Enforced Absence!

So sorry, friends, if you have been looking for my posts in vain, but I was unexpectedly rushed to hospital. Quite scary, but more so for my friends, for it happened just as I arived to view the DVD on which our Lent groups are based!

However, although it could have been serious, the cause was two tablets which I have been prescribed for ages and these were immediately withdrawn. It then remained to stabilise the imbalance they had created and I am now discharged to lead a normal life again - my friends here say 'Your life is never normal!' - without any need for aftercare. God is good!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Foodbanks meet rising need in recession-hit Britain

Foodbanks meet rising need in recession-hit Britain

The foodbank network, run by Christian organisation The Trussell Trust, has seen demand for its food parcel scheme almost double. Recent cold weather forcing higher spending on heating has combined with results of the recession to the sharp rise in families qualifying for support. A care professional has to provide vouchers for the foodbank parcels, designed to feed a family for six days. The Trust’s Haverhill, Suffolk depot leapt from feeding 29 families in November to 197 a month later, while the Salisbury centre doubled from 250 to 500. Jeremy Ravn, foodbank network manager, said resources were stretched but it was ‘so important that we as Christians are there to help’. The rising need is reflected in the Trust’s growth from 33 to 57 centres in the last 12 months and an expected increase to 35,000 people fed by the end of March, up from 26,000 in the last financial year.

Source: Baptist Times

Monday, 15 February 2010

Methodist Church welcomes alcohol labelling proposals

Methodist Church welcomes alcohol labelling proposals

Call for minimum unit price on alcohol

The Methodist Church has welcomed news that the drinks industry could be forced to put health warnings on all alcoholic drinks.

The proposals from the Department of Health would mean that, by law, labels would have to give information such as the number of units contained in the drink, guidelines for alcohol consumption and the Drinkaware Trust website ( The Church has been calling for improved labelling since the launch of the voluntary scheme in 2007.

David Bradwell, Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church in Britain, said: “There has been very slow progress with the voluntary labelling scheme, where the onus for action is left to producers. But because responsible marketing is not a priority for many alcohol producers, mandatory labelling has to be the answer. People should know exactly how many units are in each bottle and should be aware of the health risks, so that they can make an informed choice about what and how much they drink.”

But the Church believes that further action will be needed to tackle Britain’s binge drinking culture, and it is pressing for the Government to introduce a minimum sale price for each unit of alcohol. “Cheap booze blights lives,” David continued. “We need radical action to tackle the devastation caused by alcohol abuse.”

Source: Methodist news Service 15/02/2010

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Methodists encouraged to fast for Fiji

Methodists encouraged to fast for Fiji

February 25 will mark solidarity with oppressed Church

Methodists across Great Britain and Ireland are being urged to participate in a day of prayer and fasting, in solidarity with the Methodist Church in Fiji.

People are being asked to abstain from food and to consider donating the money they would have spent on food to the World Mission Fund, which will be offering long term support to the Church in Fiji. The Fijian Church has nominated February as a month for prayer and fasting. The Methodist Prayer Handbook remembers Fiji on February 25 and Methodists in Britain and Ireland are invited to join in the prayer and fasting on that date. Methodists are asked to pray for the people, churches and government in Fiji, and a special prayer is available here:

The Fijian Methodist Church is under increasing pressure from the country’s government, led by Commodore Bainimarama, which has forced the Church to cancel its annual Conference and choir festivals until 2014. Local districts and circuits are also having their activities restricted, with administrative meetings banned.

Revd Stephen Poxon, ex-president of the British Methodist Conference and Secretary of the Methodist Missionary Society, said; “In the UK, it’s easy to take our religious freedoms for granted. The Methodist Church in Fiji simply desires to worship God and serve the people of Fiji with their ministry, but the government’s unreasonable restrictions are making the Church’s daily life almost impossible. Through fasting and prayer, we want to show our solidarity with our Fijian brothers and sisters.”

All members of the Fiji Methodist Church Standing Committee have been charged with attending an unauthorized meeting (held last April), and have been held for questioning by police. A number of church ministers have also been accused of spying on the government, although the allegations have yet to be substantiated.

The Fijian Church has requested a meeting with the government to discuss the ban and explore alternatives. ‘We are a people who believe in knocking,’ said one minister, ‘even ’til midnight!’ However one superintendent was overheard saying he would hold meetings anyway, and was reported to the military, who took him in for questioning.

Despite the pressures, the Fijian Church’s chaplains continue to serve the police and the military, leading devotions frequently in churches and barracks.

Under new legislation, speaking out against the government is deemed treason, and sending criticisms of the regime to or from abroad will be regarded as sedition. As any such criticism (whether made in Fiji or abroad) is now being treated as a criminal act.

People can donate to the World Mission Fund online at, or by sending a cheque payable to “The World Mission Fund” to Fast for Fiji c/o Dave Bennett, Fundraising Coordinator, at Methodist Church House, 25 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5JR.

Source: Methodist News Service 12/02/2010

Friday, 12 February 2010

National BBC radio appeal will benefit countryside people

National BBC radio appeal will benefit countryside people

On 7 March BBC Radio 4 will broadcast an appeal to help the Arthur Rank Centre (ARC), a Christian countryside charity and resource unit supported by national Churches (including the Methodist Church), the Royal Agricultural Society of England and the Rank Foundation.

For all its beauty, life in the countryside can be tough. Over 900,000 rural households live in poverty, and problems such as depression, stress, relationship difficulties, health, finance and business difficulties can go undiagnosed and unheard.

The Revd Gordon Gatward, director of the ARC, said, “The ARC was chosen for an appeal because we have been supporting rural communities and their churches for over 38 years. Initiatives that have come out of the ARC have given thousands of people hope over the years: Rural Stress Helpline, agricultural chaplains and rural officers, Arthur Rank Training and community development projects like Hidden Britain, Care Farming, Farm Crisis Network and the ARC-Addington Fund.”

You can discover more about its activities at its website.

You can hear the BBC Radio 4 Appeal on Sunday 7 March at 7.55am or 9.26pm, or on Thursday 11 March at 3.27pm. It is also online all that week.

Source: Methodist E-News February 2010

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Methodist covenant relationship with the Church of England

Methodist President and Vice-President affirm commitment to a covenant relationship with the Church of England

“We are prepared to be changed as a Church if that will serve the needs of the Kingdom.”

The President and the Vice-President of the Methodist Conference addressed the Church of England’s General Synod this morning, expressing the Methodist Church’s commitment to a covenant relationship with the Church of England and answering questions from synod members in a discussion following their address.

Revd David Gamble and Dr Richard Vautrey said that the Covenant relationship was a “serious, deeply committed relationship” and “not an irrelevant extra”. They said that responses to the challenges of the Covenant should be driven by a desire for mission.

Revd David Gamble said: “Within God’s overwhelming gracious covenant relationship with us and with our churches, we are in a covenant with each other. For better for worse, for richer for poorer, but always for the gospel.”

Dr Richard Vautrey talked about the work that the two Churches do together, referring to the Churches’ joint action on climate change and support for the Citizens for Sanctuary campaign.

“We can and do work together on issues of social justice, on issues that we both know God calls on us to challenge our society and our world,” said Dr Vautrey. “There is more that we could and should be doing together. David and I have just come back from a visit to Israel/Palestine. There can be few other places in the world where the cries for justice and peace strike deeper in to the heart. We know that Archbishop Rowan is shortly to visit Israel, and perhaps on his return we should explore ways that we could jointly work to help Methodists and Anglicans to respond to the increasingly desperate cries for help coming from the Holy Land.”

Revd David Gamble posed the question of how the two Churches could respond to the challenges of the 21st century; a society of different faiths, cultures and histories.

“Methodists approach the Covenant with the Church of England in the spirituality of the Covenant prayer,” said Revd David Gamble. “So when we say to God ‘let me have all things let me have nothing’, we say it by extension to our partners in the Church of England as well. We are prepared to go out of existence not because we are declining or failing in mission, but for the sake of mission. In other words we are prepared to be changed and even to cease having a separate existence as a Church if that will serve the needs of the Kingdom.”

Source: Methodist news Service 11/02/2010

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Celtic Christianity

Over on "Connexions" Richard Hall highlights a questionnaire and asks fellow bloggers to share it :-

The subject of Celtic Christianity is liable to raise strong emotions in some (calm down, Kim!), but if you are interested in Celtic worship, liturgies, saints, prayers or beliefs, you might like to take the questionnaire at
"Celtic Christianity Today". It is part of an academic project by Professor Leslie J. Francis and Revd Gill Hall.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Silent Auction works wonders!

The Silent Auction held at Caversham heights Methodist Church for the relief of the people of Haiti raised £1,500 and the church is grateful to all those who donated items for auction and to all who helped to make it such a success.

This brings the final total raised in aid of Haiti at this church to £3,400, which includes Gift Aid, the 5 Shelterboxes (at a cost of £500 apiece) that were sent as quickly as possible, and the remainder which will be channelled through the Methodist Relief and Development Fund that has been at work in Haiti for many years.

For those who didn't see my earlier blog, each Shelterbox includes everything needed to help a family or group of ten people to survive a disaster. The following is lifted from their website and reduced to be more suitable for short items of news.

At the heart of every ShelterBox is a ten-person tent. Every box contains a children’s pack containing drawing books, crayons and pens. In addition to the tent, the boxes contain a range of other survival equipment including thermal blankets and insulated ground sheets, essential in areas where temperatures plummet at nightfall. Where malaria is prevalent mosquito nets are supplied, as well a life saving means of water purification. A basic tool kit containing a hammer, axe, saw, trenching shovel, hoe head, pliers and wire cutters can be found in every box. The box itself is lightweight and waterproof and has been used for a variety of purposes in the past - from water and food storage containers to a cot for a newly born baby.
A key piece in every box is either a wood burning or multi-fuel stove - that can burn anything from diesel to old paint. This provides the heart of the new home where water is boiled, food is cooked and families congregate. In addition, there are pans, utensils, bowls, mugs and water storage containers.

Family treasures

this post is to share some of the joys that Christmas with my two great grandchildren, Louisa and Toby, brought me.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Young men find church too girly

Church services and interiors need a more macho makeover if they are to attract men aged under 30, Christian Vision for Men (CVM) believes. A questionnaire on the movement’s website found that men cringe with embarrassment at much of church culture. Songs declaring Christ to be the ‘beautiful one I love’ use words ‘many men wouldn’t sing to their wives,’ CVM director Carl Beech explains. ‘Feminine’ decorations such as banners and flowers, robed vicars, action songs and kid’s plays, and ‘pastorally driven’ sermons and discussions all alienated young men who ‘want to know about (Jesus’) great decision making and leadership’. CVM has launched two Christian-themed men’s magazines and is calling churches to host big screen transmissions of the World Cup this summer to boost churches’ flagging male attendance.

Source: The Times (27/1)

Monday, 25 January 2010

Church establishes independent Education Commission

Church establishes independent Education Commission

Revd Dr John Barrett appointed as Chair

The Methodist Church is establishing an independent education commission, responsible for reviewing Methodism’s approach to education in Britain.

The Commission will be responsible for identifying a set of principles and a theological rationale, which underpins Methodism’s engagement with education. It will include all forms of formal education, including the Church’s responsibility for 64 state-maintained Methodist day schools and 14 independent schools across England and Wales, as well as its involvement in further education and higher education. It will also consider the Methodist approach to and involvement with informal education, including links to the Church's work with children and youth, and all forms of chaplaincy in education.

Revd Dr John Barrett has been appointed as Chair of the Commission. “Education is central to the development of both children and adults, and Methodism has always been passionate about accessible, high quality education provision,” he said. “It is important to review our approach to education and assess whether our commitment of our resources is appropriate for the responsibilities we have and to determine what our priorities should be for the future.”

John is a Methodist minister, and has extensive experience in education, having taught in a Methodist college, a theological college and having worked in schools in the UK. He recently stepped down after five years as the first Principal of the Anglo-Chinese International School in Singapore. Additionally, John is also Chair of the World Methodist Council Executive Committee, and was the first chairperson of the World Methodist Council’s Education Committee.

John would like to hear from anyone who would like to be considered for membership of the Commission or who feels they have a contribution to make to its work. Those interested are invited to register their interest by contacting the Methodist Church through the Projects, Research and Development Cluster by email:

The Commission will report to the Methodist Conference in 2012.

Source: Methodist News Service 25/01/2010

Methodist Haiti appeal passes £80,000 mark

A joint appeal launched by the Methodist Church and MRDF for Haiti has smashed the £80,000 barrier, which means that more than £100,000 will be donated to Haiti.

Donations to the Church’s World Mission Fund have reached more than £37,000 by this morning. The Fund gave an immediate grant of £20,000 on 13 January, and the money raised through this appeal will allow for continued support. So far, donations to MRDF have reached £46,000. Donations have come from the Methodist Church in Ireland and people all over Great Britain and will go directly to the Church in Haiti, which is distributing aid to those most in need.

Expressing his gratitude for the initial grant, Revd Gesner Paul District President of the Methodist Church in Haiti, said; “We thank you for standing near us at this time of severe difficulty and continue to count on your support by any means as we try to recover from this very traumatic disaster.”

Revd Tom Quenet, Methodist Partnership Coordinator for the Americas and the Caribbean said; “We continue to be amazed by people’s generosity. While Haiti will remain in the news for a little while, we are in it for the long haul. We will continue to work with the Methodist Church in Haiti, helping them to rebuild their lives and communities long after the news crews have gone.”

In February, Tom hopes to lead a visit by a group of British Methodist representatives to the country. This will also include Lord Griffiths of Burry Port, who was ordained in Haiti, and Haitian minister Revd Marcus Torchon, whose family have been affected by the disaster.

Donations to MRDF will also support the work being carried out by the Methodist Church in Haiti, as well as the relief efforts of the charity’s emergency partner, Action by Churches Together (ACT) International. ACT is providing counselling services and water and sanitation engineers, who will construct water purification systems and latrines that will help in the fight against cholera and other water-based diseases. Donations through both ACT and the World Mission Fund will provide food, water, blankets and tents to thousands of people, as well as other essential support to those affected by the disaster.

Kirsty Smith, MRDF Director, said; “We are deeply grateful to everyone who has supported our appeal. These gifts will help to reinforce the relief efforts on the ground. The earthquake has caused major devastation to a country that was already battling extreme poverty. Key services and institutions have been totally destroyed. We will continue to do all that we can to make a difference.”

People can donate via the Methodist Church by visiting, or sending a cheque payable to the World Mission Fund to Dave Bennett, Fundraising Coordinator, at Methodist Church House, 25 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5JR. Postal donations should be labelled ‘Haiti Appeal’. For further information visit or contact Revd Tom Quenet on 020 7467 5160.

To donate via MRDF, visit or call 020 7224 4814 to give by debit or credit card, or send a cheque made payable 'MRDF (Haiti emergency)' and to MRDF, 25 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5JR.

Source: Methodist news Service 25/01/2010

Saturday, 23 January 2010

TV's Religious output

Synod motion to criticise TV’s religious output

The Church of England’s governing body is to debate the ‘sensationalist and unduly critical nature’ of TV coverage of religion. Noting that the quantity of religious programming has declined, a lay member’s motion will also lament its quality. Former BBC producer Nigel Holmes will claim at the Synod in February that even the ‘few remaining programmes’ are being marginalised. He says that the BBC’s percentage of religious output has dropped by a third in the last ten years, while ITV’s has reduced to ‘next to nothing’, and broadcasters have ‘a lack of sympathy for, and ignorance of, religion’. The Guardian commented that our ‘sneering’ media as a whole is ‘almost uniquely out-of-touch with the world of religion.’

Sources: The Guardian (18/1, 19/1); Daily Telegraph (18/1); Church Times (22/1)

Friday, 22 January 2010

"Enough for Everyone"




Churches say “There is enough for everyone” - Homelessness and Poverty Action Week

There is enough for everyone – that is the message of Poverty and Homelessness Action Week beginning on January 30.

The Methodist Church in Britain, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church are supporting the awareness-raising week run by Church Action on Poverty and Housing Justice. The three churches have recommended resources produced for the campaign to be used in worship services.

Paul Morrison, Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church in Britain, said Poverty and Homelessness Action Week was especially important this year as the country prepares for a general election.

“Poverty is not just the problem of some people having too little; it’s also a problem of some people having too much,” he said.

“From the very start, Methodism has been about sharing the gospel, and sharing was not just about telling people stories, it was about having compassion for who they are and the situation that each person finds themselves in.”

Revd Dr Rosemary Kidd, Faith and Unity Coordinator of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said: “It is quite clear that some people are paid too much but we have no mechanism by which we measure what is too much. There is enough for everyone, it’s just that wealth is poorly distributed.”

Frank Kantor, Secretary for Church and Society at the United Reformed Church, said: “We want to hear from people who wish to contribute to the debate on incomes and inequality in the UK which will be a key issue in the run up to the next election”

You can find out more on Poverty and Homelessness Action Week, and contribute to the debate via the Methodist Church website or by visiting the Homelessness and Poverty Action Week homepage:

Source: Methodist News Service 22/01/2010

Churches' Preparation Guide for 2010 General Election












22 January 2010

Churches launch guide to prepare for the 2010 General Election

Online resources designed to help Christians prepare for the General Election were launched today.

Eleven Churches and Church agencies have worked together to create an electronic booklet and website, which includes information on how to arrange a hustings meeting at local churches as well as a downloadable guide offering information on the important questions of this election campaign.

The election materials do not support a particular Church view or political party line, but aim to help people engage with a range of important issues facing the country, however they may decide to vote.

Rachel Lampard, Public Issues Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church who worked on the resources produced by Methodist Publishing and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, said: “We hope that the website will really help Christians engage with the election. The Faith in Politics booklet covers a whole range of policy issues, written by leading Christian experts and campaigners. The website also carries new guidance for groups wishing to hold hustings events during the election campaign, enabling people to register their interest in organising a hustings event and be put in touch with others in their constituency. We hope churches up and down the country will take advantage of these ecumenical resources.”

Faith in Politics covers issues including the economy, environment, health, education, equality and diversity, Europe, migration and sanctuary, poverty and criminal justice. The resource also provides a series of questions to facilitate personal or group reflection on political issues, or which could be used to quiz election candidates.

The Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of the Church of England's Mission and Public Affairs Division, said: “I really hope these resources will be used by churches across the country to help them get ready for the General Election. They provide a rich range of material from which Christians and others can explore policy areas and form questions for their parliamentary candidates. The material points to the breadth of the impact that Westminster politics can have on the life of the nation, and I hope it will stimulate searching questions that will in turn help people make an informed judgement about how they use their vote.”

The Revd Bob Fyffe, General Secretary of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, said “These resources will provide a rich source of information for churches and Churches Together groups across the four nations. The combination of these resources together with the online hustings information should ensure that Christians around the UK can fully engage in discussions with their prospective parliamentary candidates. The fact that the Churches have worked together to provide these resources is a strong statement in itself, and we hope that local churches and groups will fully engage in the democratic process.”

Source; Methodist News Service

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Silent Auction for Haiti

Other churches may like to run something on similar lines as this event which I have just sent for publication in all our local papers and radio stations:-

Haiti Earthquake

Caversham Heights Methodist Church (Corner of Woodcote Rd and Highmoor Rd) in Reading will be holding a “Silent Auction” on Saturday 30th January. You are asked to donate gifts (of any value, new or second hand) that others might like to buy, and bring them to the church on Friday 29th between 7.00 pm and 10.00 pm, or Saturday 30th between 9.00am and 10.00 am. The gifts will be displayed in the church with a bidding paper beside them. From 10 am to 12 noon please come and write down bids for anything that takes your fancy.
At 12.00 noon the highest bidder gets the item.
Any unsold items to be collected by the donor plus items whose optional reserve price has not been reached.
There will be a homemade cake stall and tea and coffee will be served.

All proceeds will go to help bring aid to the people of Haiti.

UPDATE: from the two services at church on Sunday January 17th, £660 was donated which includes £111 of Gift Aid. Since than we have received a further £256 which also includes Gift Aid. A total of almost £930. We have already sent £500 to Shelterbox for box in our name to be sent to Haiti. The box includes everything needed to help a family or group of ten people to survive a disaster. The following is lifted from ther website and reduced to be more suitable for short items of news.

At the heart of every ShelterBox is a ten-person tent. Every box contains a children’s pack containing drawing books, crayons and pens. In addition to the tent, the boxes contain a range of other survival equipment including thermal blankets and insulated ground sheets, essential in areas where temperatures plummet at nightfall. Where malaria is prevalent mosquito nets are supplied, as well a life saving means of water purification. A basic tool kit containing a hammer, axe, saw, trenching shovel, hoe head, pliers and wire cutters can be found in every box. The box itself is lightweight and waterproof and has been used for a variety of purposes in the past - from water and food storage containers to a cot for a newly born baby.
A key piece in every box is either a wood burning or multi-fuel stove - that can burn anything from diesel to old paint. This provides the heart of the new home where water is boiled, food is cooked and families congregate. In addition, there are pans, utensils, bowls, mugs and water storage containers. Each box costs £490 to equip and ship.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Methodist Podcast re Haitian earthquake

A special edition of the Methodist Podcast following the earthquake disaster in Haiti on 12 January 2010 is now available to download from Methodist Web Radio.

People have been shocked and horrified by the scenes of devastation in Haiti following the massive earthquake, which left thousands of people dead and survivors fighting for their lives. Revd Tom Quenet, Methodist Partnership Coordinator for the Americas and the Caribbean, was due to be in Haiti when the earthquake struck. He told Karen Burke how he heard of the tragedy and the work he has been engaged in since to help with the relief effort.

To listen to the podcast, visit:

Soutce: Methodist News Service 18/01/2010

Friday, 15 January 2010

Crucifixion for Trafalgar Square

Over a hundred actors will bring Christ’s trial and execution to the heart of London next Good Friday by staging a Passion Play in Trafalgar Square. Organisers say the free performance will give a ‘unique’ taste of being in Jerusalem on the first Good Friday. The event has the backing of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster. Most Revd Vincent Nichols said: ‘I am delighted that people from so many Christian denominations will be coming together to remind Londoners why the bank holiday of Good Friday is observed.’

Source:Daily Telegraph (13/1)

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Haiti earthquake Appeal

Appeal launched to help thousands struck by devastating Haiti earthquake

Church donates £20,000 to aid victims of killer quake feared to have left thousands dead

The Methodist Church in Britain has launched an emergency appeal and granted £20,000 in immediate aid to Haiti after a catastrophic earthquake rocked the Caribbean nation yesterday.

Reports revealed that the 7.0-magnitude quake, the worst to hit the country in two centuries, tore down the HQ of the UN Mission, the presidential palace and thousands of homes in the space of a minute at 16.53 Haitian time and 21.53 GMT. Survivors used the micro-blogging site Twitter to report on the unfolding tragedy.

Revd Marcus Torchon, a Haitian Methodist minister serving in the Liverpool District on an exchange programme, said: “I am still waiting for news from family members who are missing. I managed to speak to my nephew after the quake happened, but since that phone call there were more than 10 after-shocks. Now the line is dead because the major phone networks are down.

“It is really destabilising emotionally. Practically, I would like to be of service to them. I feel that at some point I may have to go there when the airport is open. At the end of the day, we have nothing but our faith in God.”

Revd Tom Quenet, Partnership Coordinator for the Americas and Caribbean, established contact with the President of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas at 3am GMT today. Tom said: “Following the damage caused by four successive hurricanes that hit the island in 2008, I fear that the people of Haiti will wake up to scenes of devastation, fear and loss of life.”

Haiti’s Methodist church is the largest membership district of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean & the Americas with 12,000 members.

Tom Osbeck from aviation ministry Air Calvary said: “The buildings, homes, businesses and hospitals of Port-au-Prince are flattened. We stand outside and weep as we hear thousands of crying people. Thousands have died – many, many around our house.”

David Carwell of Mission Aviation Fellowship said: “All kinds of things in our house shook and slid and came tumbling to the floor. There have been many aftershocks and tremors. They seem to be weakening, but I doubt if it’s over yet.”

The Methodist Church in Britain is appealing to people to make their response through the World Mission Fund while international relief agencies and governments work to bring relief to Haitians.

Donations can be made through the Just Giving webpage on the Methodist Church website 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 ‘Haiti Appeal’.

Source: Methodist news Service 13/01/2010

Please read what Angela Shier-Jones has written under "God of the Earthquake" on her blog

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

'Now a Christian;

My friend Tony Miles has let me know on his blog Maybe2day about a new Church Army initiative that is worth checking out and passing on to others.

Here are the details of the new Now a Christian FREE email course which they have launched @

You Tube – see

Do watch this it takes about 2.5 mins and gives a great overview of the programme which is FREE.

Please put the link on your website.

There is an Inspire Magazine article about it on their website:

Monday, 11 January 2010

Methodists’ New Year’s Resolution

Methodists’ New Year’s Resolution - to cut carbon emissions by 10 per cent within a year·
Call to be ‘earth keepers’ rather than ‘earth eaters’

Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church, signed up to the 10:10 campaign yesterday on behalf of over 100 staff at Methodist Church House in London. Throughout 2010, staff will work to cut 10 per cent off the building’s energy use.

Martyn said: ‘We begin to change the world when we change our lives and lifestyles. It is absolutely right, then, that as Christian disciples heeding God’s command to be good stewards of the planet, and increasingly ‘earth keepers’ rather than ‘earth eaters’, we commit ourselves to joining the 10:10 campaign. Together we can make a small but significant change and express hope in God’s future.’

Using the principle of ‘small actions, big difference,’ office staff will be encouraged to switch off lights and computers when they are not in use. There will also be a travel survey, initiating a year-long challenge to look at travel patterns for work engagements in Britain and with partner churches worldwide.

Energy saving actions at Methodist Church House have already begun. Desk printers have been replaced by more efficient shared printers. All office staff have their own recycling bin with non-recyclable material now deposited in separate communal bins. Following the results of an independent audit by the Carbon Trust, there will be an investment in a suitable building management system and exploration of PIR (passive infrared sensors) lighting.

Tamsin Omond, Faith Coordinator for the 10:10 campaign, said: “It is great to have the Methodist Church joining the initiative. Faith groups have recently had a strong voice on this issue and turning words into action is essential to tackle the global problem of climate change. All our personal actions reinforce the message to our governments regarding the scale of ambition that we expect from international agreements.”

The wider Church is encouraged to join the campaign via

Source: Methodist News Service 07/01/2010

Sunday, 10 January 2010

PC or WC?

I can't resist sharing this laugh from my friend Tony Miles' blog Maybe2day and he was sent it by Catherine:-

"EU Directive No. 456179

In order to meet the conditions for joining the Single European currency, all citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland must be made aware that the phrase ‘Spending a Penny‘ is not to be used after 31st December 2009.

From the 1st January 2010, the correct terminology will be: ‘Euronating’.

Thank you for your attention.

Ha ha ha!"

Sunday, 3 January 2010

The Longest Night

Further to my post 'Snow Relief Centre', I asked for a report of what happened on the longest night of 2009 for our local ecumenical newspaper, 'Caversham Bridge' and I have pleasure in sharing it with you here.

"The longest night

It seems that everyone has a story about the snow that fell on 21 December (the longest night) last year. At Caversham Heights Methodist Church, we too had an exciting time.

Early in the evening, my doorbell rang, and a very public-spirited neighbour asked if I knew that a number of motorists were stranded on the main road in their cars and trucks, and wondered whether we could open the church hall and offer hot drinks? While she went off to tell shivering drivers we were opening up, I phoned several church members who live nearby, and in a short space of time, we were offering warm shelter, hot drinks and most importantly, loos!

Many cars, vans and lorries, including big trucks, were straddling St. Peter’s Hill and Woodcote Road, and soon we had dozens of people, old and young (plus a couple of dogs) thawing out. Amazingly, the word got out very quickly, and a number of local residents (not necessarily connected with our church), appeared at the hall, offering help, food, bedding and accommodation, and so as the evening wore on, we were able to provide soup and sandwiches. Woodcote Way Stores kindly stayed open long enough for us to stock up on some items. (One local resident generously paid for these.) When it became clear that those travellers not within walking distance of home, would have to spend the night in Caversham, some folk were taken to local homes, and the rest slept at the church. Several valiant volunteers stayed up all or most of the night (thank you, Sarah & Steve, and Adam!), and in the morning, we offered a simple breakfast of toast and tea.

A BBC TV reporter appeared early on, and later, we were phoned by Radio Berkshire, the Reading Chronicle, the Reading Post and Rob Wilson MP. A few drivers decided to leave their cars and try the train. A police officer eventually appeared, but when there was still no sign of the road being cleared, some of the truckers knocked on doors, borrowed shovels, and began clearing the road. Meanwhile, some new drivers had arrived, having left the Oxford area that morning, unaware that the road was blocked.

We continued to benefit from the help and support of the Caversham community - for example, some bacon sandwiches turned up in the morning; someone brought in a flask of hot chocolate; and folks walked down to Waitrose to buy supplies and received a donation of tea bags from the store.

By midday on 22nd, all of our temporary visitors had gone, but not before some of the truckers had generously taken up a collection in gratitude.

If you are one of the people who very kindly offered or gave help, food or bedding that night, we are deeply grateful for your generosity. If you need reimbursement for your expenses, please contact me. Any surplus money from the collection will be divided between Shelter and Action for Children. If you lent bedding or a shovel, we still have a few items left in the church hall! Please ring (0118) 9470040 to arrange collection.

Once again, a big thank you to all those generous people who showed community spirit that night. When giving us the collected money, one of the truckers made a little speech. He said, “We thought Caversham people were all posh. We truckers are seen as the scum of the earth, but you’ve treated us with respect and kindness. Thank you.”

(Rev.) Jenny Dowding"

Friday, 1 January 2010

Forward into 2010

On this first day of the new Year 2010 I send greetings to all my friends, wishing them a very blessed New Year, with many more disciples won for Christ so that His Kingdom grows in grace and in strength. May God direct all our labours and give us a new vision of how we should fulfil our calling.

With just 6 weeks before the beginning of Lent, Churches Together in Caversham are planning for the Lenten Study groups, with this interesting slogan -

"Don't give up Chocolate this year...... Take it up........

Lent groups 2010, will take a different form than other years, it will be
based around the film ‘Chocolate’ and there will be a sign up sheet in each
church at the beginning of the new year…"

This will certainly be different and should prove to be very interesting.