Spam problems

Typepad (the hosting service for this blog) is being overrun by spam comments at the moment. I am getting 100's a day that are not being detected.

Therefore I have turned on comment moderation for a while.

I don't like comment moderation, this is only as a temporary measure to deal with the spam.

I apologise if real comments get delayed or lost in this deluge.

Hopefully normal service will return soo.

New mobile toys

Applying the principle of it being easier to get forgiveness than permission I bought some new toys now that I have a new phone (Samsung SIII Mini).

So the phone now has a 32gb memory card and an Android App called FolderSync that keeps the music folder on the phone in sync with the music folder on my laptop (automatically over WiFi).
Then I needed to be able to hear the music so I have three new bits for that. First a cable converter that turns the iPod plug in the car into a 3.5mm jack so the phone can play through the car speakers. Second a wonderful tiny speaker (an X-Mini Kai) which connects via bluetooth and can also be used for conference calls. Thirdly some Motorola S10 bluetooth headphones.
The I decided to go for a better typing experience as the on screen keyboards are too limited for note taking in meetings. So I have a Logitech K810 bluetooth keyboard that I am using to type this post.
Now for the fraction of the weight of my laptop I can have a much richer mobile experience.
Yes I know it is sad, but I do like my toys :-)

Enjoying new sound :-)

For a while now we have been struggling to hear dialogue properly when watching dvds or the tv.

After applying a bit of thought it was quite obvious we have been using the TV speakers since our very old surround sound system had stopped working properly (no signal to subwoofer and damage to a couple of the smaller speakers). The TV speakers are just not clear enough and it gets worse if you turn the volume up.

So while having an afternoon out in Leicester (including nice lunch at Good Earth) we nipped along to Richer Sounds. Have to say the result is a huge improvement. Having a modern AV Receiver means the DVD player and Digital Set Top Box both connect to the AV Receiver and then that connects to the TV and to the speakers. This means we only need to use the on/off switch on the TV, it stays on the same HDMI cable all the time with the volume at zero.

There are a couple of other very nice features of the Yamaha AV Receiver. First the DVD player and Set Top Box box connect to it with both HDMI and Optical Cables which should be best for sound quality. Second it comes with a microphone to automate configuration of the surround sound. Simply place the microphone where your head will be when watching a film, then turn on the AV Receiver and it plays a sequence of sounds to work out the relative volumes for the speakers – very cool.

So back to properly enjoying films with the ability to shake the floor nicely if I want to :-) Yep I love my toys! Plus hopefully when we watch something together we won't need to keep pausing and replaying bits to catch what they have said.

Exciting progress at Bristol CU

So I have just learned from twitter that Bristol CU have had a woman speaker. Wonderful news!

The programme for tonight has clearly been changed from "CU: Equip – Big Question: How can Jesus be the only way? 07/03/2013 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm Speaker tbc speaking from Acts 4:12" to be Mary Jane a UCCF Colleague of Dave Bish speaking on "The God who loves women".

Several tweets from Dave Bish tonight:

  • Thankful for Mary Jane speaking on "The God who loves women" earlier and preaching tonight @Bristolcu @UCCF pic.twitter.com/wy5urJmb3e  (Tweet)
  • Some boys walk past: "oh wow she's allowed to talk," they say. Yes, she is. Her name is MJ, she's great, you should come in and listen… (Tweet) [worth noting the reputation Bristol CU must have with other students]
  • Great to have my @uccf colleague Mary Jane speaking at two @BristolCU lunchbars today and preaching tonight. (Tweet)

I am delighted that this has happened. I hope that this is just the start of a move to a more inclusive CU,

Great things from the Church of England. But

The Church of England does many things well, there are also lots and lots of wonderful people doing great stuff in the Church of England. But there is a but.

Take the Faith in Conflict Conference that I am at this week. So much of this is absolutely brilliant:

  • The actual plenary content (just the first afternoon and evening have been enough to have made the time and cost worthwhile).
  • The people who are speaking and leading the smaller workgroups are highly qualified in the field and good facilitators.
  • The preparation and organisation are great. Clear arrangements, good facilities, very welcoming,helpful and knowledgeable staff team, quality printed materials. All top notch.
  • The food has also been good (how many people get to have meals served in the Nave of a Cathedral), with good quality, quantity, service and timing.
  • Coventry Cathedral is a wonderful setting for a conference on conflict and has a fantastic ongoing work in the field of reconciliation.

So a great conference.

However, there is a weakness and it reminds me of my training on a CofE dominated course. It is in the area of ecumenical appearance.

First, we had warm and friendly welcomes from the Chair of the organising committee, from the Bishop and from the Cathedral Dean. But there was no ecumenical involvement. Why was there nobody from another denomination to also welcome us? There are people at this conferenence from the Baptists, Catholics, Society of Friends, Mennonites, Methodists and more (including from other Countries). Couldn't someone from a local Church or Synod/District/Area from another denomination have provided an ecumenical dimension to the welcome?

Secondly, it would have been nice to see in the programme some contributions to the worship from other traditions than just the CofE. The worship may be great (although Choral Evensong sadly does very little to help me worship) but there appears from what I can see so far no attempt to involve other Churches, no ecumenical welcome. At a conference on Faith in Conflict to not celebrate different traditions of worship (about which there has been plenty conflict in the past and plenty of reconciliation still needed) seems a missed opportunity.

My perception is that these come from two beliefs the Church of England has of itself. First that it sees itself as the National Church and therefore able to represent all Christians. Second it believes that because the breadth of the Church of England is so wide it encompasses all traditions. For me neither of these are true and it disappoints me when I experience what can appear as arrogance or a sense of superiority. I know that when I explore these issues with people in the Church of England this is not what they intend. I hope that over time we will see more progress made.

An open letter to UCCF Region Team Leaders

Dear Team Leader,

I intend to continue my survey of CU's and Women Speakers that I started with the South West Region (see my posts: 42: University CU's and women speakers (SW Region) and 42: Updates on Women Speakers in CU's in the South West).

I am very interested in working with you so that what I write is as accurate as possible.

You can contact me by

or on twitter @Dave42W or by commenting below. I am happy to talk on the phone if you prefer (just let me know and I can give you my number or you can give me yours).

I have not sent this by the UCCF website email service as that specifically asks me not to use it to contact more than a couple of people.

Team Leaders:

  • Scotland: Mark Ellis
  • Wales: Owen Brown
  • North East: Peter Dray
  • North West: Ruth Port
  • Midlands: Tim Dennis
  • Cenrtral: Graham Shearer
  • South West: Dave Bish
  • South East: Naomi Dawson
  • London: Natasha Kasprowicz

If you know any of these team leaders please pass this onto them.

Responding to attempts to distract from gender equality

In comments on my post 42: Basic mis-understandings around Women as speakers two people are trying to distract us from gender equality in a variety of ways.

BWAHOA attempts to distract me by diverting the discussion onto sexuality and then allegations that Methodist Ministers don't believe in God and that I don't say anything about that.

Anon makes a horrible comparison between gender equality which they seem to believe means we should allow people to talk about pornography. This is just so outrageous that I am not going to respond to it.

At best I see these as mischevious attempts to divert attention away from the content of the post. Still I am not going to ignore them. So some quick answers (because of time and as most of these have been answered many times over on this blog over the years).

Do I believe in equality in areas other than gender.

Absolutely yes. All human beings are created in the image of God and God does not recognise all the human made distinctions of gender, age, ethnicity, colour, height, sexuality, disability, hair length, freedom etc etc.

Do I believe any of these distinctions (gender, age, sexuality) should have any connection to Church Leadership.

Absolutely not.

The only qualification for Church leadership that matters at the end is to be called and equipped by God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Of course the way that Churches and individuals discern, explore, affirm and celebrate such a call and equipping varies and can be complicated.

Once a person and the Church has recognised a call by God and the equipping of the Holy Spirit then it is important for that person to remain faithful to the call, to the faith and to the Church that recognised that call.

Why do a I focus on Gender issues more than other areas of equality such as sexuality?

Simply it is quite impossible to focus on all the issues of equality that I am passionate about. Both the depth and breadth of the field is too great. So I narrow down to focus on just some areas. Gender because a) in most cases it needs to come before people will consider other areas. b) it directly effects more people (approx 50% of the world's population) c) I have seen some of the terrible effects connected to gender discrimination in people I have journied alongside.

Why don't I say anything about Methodist Ministers who apparently don't believe in Jesus is divine?

BWAHOA has made this vague accusation before and I have never ignored it.

I have never met a Methodist Minister who claims not to believe in the divinity of Jesus. If a Minister claimed to not believe in Jesus then it seems to me that this would be a disciplinary issue for the Church to handle and I would support doing that properly. If there is evidence then I support and encourage BWAHOA to use the complaints process of the Methodist Church. I cannot, however, start a complaint myself based purely on hearsay.

I am also influenced by the number of times that I have been told by various people that I am not a Christian or not an Evangelical Christian. Given that I know that is untrue I am tempted to assume that the same is true for these vague accusations of other Methodists.

Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God? That He is divine?

Yes, absolutely. My faith is pretty orthodox evangelical (entirely consistent with Bebbington quadrilateral).

Celebrating Rothley Methodists

Just home from a fantastic afternoon and evening at Rothley Methodist Church.

We started with Messy Church at 3pm. This was only our second Messy Church (4th Saturday every month 3pm til 5pm) yet we had 24 kids and 19 adults.

Just to put that in context 19 adults is more than we tend to average on a Sunday morning! Lots of people that I am meeting for the first time :-)

In one of those nice "coincidences" that come after prayer and response, we were focused on the feeding of the 5,000 at this Messy Church. Lots of creative stuff, of which quite a bit was edible :-) Then marching into worship sing "One little boy who shared his lunch" to the tune "Ten Little Indians", then a video on the story, some interactive reflections on the story, a couple of Fischy Music action songs that fitted well ("We can do good" and "We all need encouragment") and prayers before we went back out to the hall to find the sausages were not quite ready. So I stole an idea from Birstall Messy Church where a parachute is used to bounce prayers upto God. We didn't have either a parachute or space for one with all this many people so we had a virtual parachute which worked just as well :-)

By then the very special "Truly Irrestible" Co-Operative sausages were ready along with the potatos, peas and beans (I was determined that we would have sausages that we would not read about horse in them during the week!). Pam had made a variety of cakes to follow that which also went down very well.

By this point the bread in fish shapes (ish) that the children had made were bakes so they could take them home along with all the other things they had made.

It was a brilliant afternoon, only made possible by a wonderful congregation who are enjoying a new lease of life having so many children in the Church. The congregation have been brilliant at inviting people and then being there to welcome them as well as getting involved in lots of practical ways. Sue, our senior Steward has lots of wonderfully creative ideas for the crafts (comes with a lovely mixture from her years of experience as a Beaver Leader and also as a Worship Leader).

After that we just had time to clear up and re-arrange the whole building for an evening of "Folk and Food", part of our 190th year celebrations. So we had a 10 strong Eileen's Little Big Band to play for us (as well as a couple of pieces sung by Christine from our own congregation). Lots of community singing of a mixture of secular and faith songs such as "Outragous Grace". A real highlight was Keith talking about his Baptism 3 weeks ago at Syston and then singing "Pour over me" with David on the piano. A very powerful testimony :-)

We had 60 people there which meant we were packed out! So nice to open the partition to the Church and move pews in order to add more space to the hall. In fact when it came to the eating many spread out into the Church (where I was serving beautiful Cameroon Tank Coffee having borrowed Syston's coffee machine and 4 x 2.2 litre pump flasks).

Everyone had a great time. So good to see the congregation enjoying having so many people joining them.

It has been an amazing few days for our little Chapel, last week we hosted a Circuit Sunday Morning Service. I wasn't there as I was on holiday but heard it was very full and again the congregation were loving the support of so many coming to celebrate 190 years of God's love in and through this congregation.

We have lots more things coming during this 190th year of celebration including services by Stella Bristow (former Vice President of the Methodist Connexion), Peter Hancock (Northampton District Chair) and a number of preachers/ministers with connections with the Chapel from the past.

Updates on Women Speakers in CU’s in the South West

I have been updating my blog post 42: University CU's and women speakers (SW Region) as I have received comments from people (some polite for which my thanks, some not so polite which I have not ignored).

There is good news.

All the CU's in the South West Region of the UCCF that people have given me information about (with the exception of Bristol) have had women speakers.

There are some CU's (4 at the moment) where I still have no information and I hope that people will help fill in those gaps to show that these are having women speakers. Finding these is time consuming and often requires local knowledge about individuals twitter accounts etc.

There is bad news.

Nobody has yet given any details of Bristol CU allowing women speakers.

Next

I will continue to update this region and will add other regions as I get time. Personally I think it is helpful to have an evidence based list of which CU's are currently having women speakers rather than unsupported claims that they either do or do not. I hope that those claiming there is no problem outside Bristol will be proved right although simply ignoring the many voices saying there is a problem is not helpful.

One outstanding issue is that simply demonstrating that a CU has had at least one woman speaker is not a guarantee of equality. To my mind there are at least three issues that need to be addressed for that to be the case.

  • Frequency. I would suggest that if there are fewer than two women speakers per term then it is hard to claim much of a commitment to equality.
  • Authority. For there to be equality there needs to be Women speakers with a range of authority and "status" to match the male speakers. I suggest it does not mean equality if the women who speak are all UCCF relay workers while the men are Church leaders.
  • Events. The events where people speak matter. For example a small Bible study and a main mission week event are not the same. That is not to say Bible Studies are unimportant but it is to say that unless you have women speakers at the full range of your events then there is not equality.

I don't know how you could monitor this and I certainly don't intend to. However, I think it is important to recognise the significant limitations that only noting that a woman has been invited to speak has.