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.