Monthly Archives: April 2010

Tying up a long weekend

Back home after a great, long weekend away. It was not the weekend originally planned (so what else is new) but made a big change from "normal".

As usual the boys adjusted the plans a few times.

At the heart of the weekend was a wedding. Jen, who started as a Methodist Minister in Kettering at the same time as I did in Raunds (and therefore went through probationer and under 5 meetings with me) married Keith on Saturday in Ealing where she moved in August. 

IMAG0008 Here is the Ealing Green URC / Methodist Church where Jen is now and where the service was held. As you can see Saturday was beautiful. Also very quiet for Ealing and there are no vapour trails in the sky.

There were plenty of jokes about the liturgy as both Jen and Keith (now an Anglican priest, before that a URC minister, …) are hot liturgists and getting the liturgy right was by far the most complicated element in planning the wedding. We also had some great hymns with a visiting Organist from Cambridge (where Keith was before his move to London).

IMAG0013 Here you can see a terrible picture (sorry about that) of the happy couple as we moved to the church halls for drinks and food (plenty of lovely food thanks to the congregation).

We had a lovely afternoon and then a great evening at Cafe Chai with old and new friends.

There were so many clergy at the wedding that some could not resist the temptation to reflect on the liturgy and how they would do things differently themselves. We remember not spending a whole lot of time planning our service or wedding day (Jane was busy doing her degree finals anyway), our focus was rather on what came after – which we feel 22 years have shown to be a good priority.

Jane and I stayed at the Ramada Jarvis Hotel at Ealing Common, very convenient but absolutely nothing special for the price (was all the black painted wood for their teenage guests?). 

Our youngest had stayed with his Aunt in Watford while the older two stayed at home to study and fend for themselves. We have mixed feelings about well they manage to do that. "We had to buy Fish and Chips because the pans needed washing up and we could not wait for the dishwasher" and when we asked why they didn't wash them by hand they said "we never thought of that". We did also wonder what was wrong with all the other pans. On Saturday the milkman came (usually in the early hours of the morning), but they did not notice until the evening and so left it out in the sun all day – duh.

Htc-desire One of the nice additions to the weekend (at least for me) was my new phone, an HTC Desire which arrived on Thursday afternoon. So I have had some fun playing with it during the weekend. So far loving it but managing to run the battery down very quickly. As well as everything else it can even make phone calls – amazing :-)

For me the integration with Google Calendar, Contacts and Mail are key features that mean I will need to carry a laptop around much less often.

Jane seemed to feel some of the applications were not very helpful. I was using Google maps with the GPS location and walking directions, so I could tell her that we were walking on a bridge over the tube line. She was not impressed and said she had already noticed – just no pleasing some people :-)

It was good to be able to spend a couple of days and nights with just the two of us and even get two lie in's in a weekend – unheard of.

On Methodist people

I wrote some stuff yesterday which in part celebrated some Methodist people see 42: Methodist Council

Tonight after a very long meeting, followed by some socializing, I have been reflecting on some of the people, particularly Christian leaders, that I have known and been influenced by. I have been incredibly blessed over the years by the Christian leaders I have known.

I remember like it was yesterday my first permanent job, straight from university to work for the United Bible Societies in their London World Service Centre. I think my job title was Computer Officer or something. There were only a few (much less than 10) people in the office and it was led by John Dean who I went on to work with for many years.

My first task was to prepare budget spreadsheets (about 150 sets of forms in Lotus version 1a!) sent in from the four regions for a week long budget meeting which that year was in London. I attended the meeting to provide technical and admin support to my boss Elizabeth Dain. So less than two months into the job, there I was staying in a hotel in London and part of a meeting of the most senior people in the United Bible Societies.

I was stunned by the attitude of Ulrich Fick, General Secretary of the United Bible Societies at the time. There was me probably the youngest, most junior and least experienced person in the entire fellowship of Bible Societies and he took time from an incredibly busy schedule to talk to me and be interested in me, how I was getting on and so on. I will never forget that example of Christian leadership.

I mention that story (and I thought I had written about it before but google tells me I am wrong) because this Methodist Council reminded me of it, both personally but also in what someone else shared with me. That person mentioned how surprised they were that Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church (and Secretary of the Methodist Conference), took time and care to sit with them (as a self described "junior" person) at one of the meals to have a caring chat about how things were for them. 

My own experience of senior people within the Methodist Church is much like that initial experience within the United Bible Societies. That has been the case throughout my training as a Local Preacher and then for ordained ministry (my Methodist involvement had been pretty much within the local Church before that). Yes I would qualify that very slightly in that there have been a couple of people who have come over a bit aloof and distant but they have been a totally insignificant minority.

While I recognise that there are probably many people who do not feel this positive about the Methodist people I still feel very grateful for the examples that so many Methodists have given me in humble, grace filled leadership. But please do not be misled into believing that these have been weak leaders unable to direct, guide, challenge or confront as appropriate – but know that their manner of doing so has been and continues to be inspiring.

My experience of Methodists in local Churches has also been good from my home Church supporting me as I explored vocation, through my local preacher training and then placements during my ministerial training and on into my first appointment in the Nene Valley Circuit. Not everyone has been wonderful :-) but the vast, huge majority have been loving, supportive, generous and filled with grace. Oh how I pray that all people could have those kinds of experiences.

So as I sit on the Methodist Council with the potential to drown in paper or be daunted by big decisions my experience of the Methodist people around me here and elsewhere carries me and points me towards the source of that love and grace to Jesus.

Thank-you to all those who have in the past and still today point me to Jesus.

Methodist Council

So here I am at the April Methodist Council. This is the longest meeting of the year (Saturday lunchtime through to Monday lunchtime) and this time is at the Royal Holloway (University of London).

Nice facilities although I have now had to walk right across site 9 times today, following a walk from the station and the miles it takes to transfer from train to tube at St Pancras I am exhausted.

It was a bit of a rush this morning and sadly the reason for the rush (induction session for those of us still in our first year of Council) was poorly attended.

As has been hinted at (actually we were not that subtle) in tweets, facebook statuses and blog posts the agenda is huge, very daunting. Fortunately, there are many capable people here with a vast range of gifts, skills and graces so that there are always people who are prepared and helpful on every issue.

I was late back to my room tonight because of a fantastically passionate group discussion and brain storm in the bar on a several of the reports. Great to sit in a bar and discuss big issues seriously, demanding high standards of theology and discipleship from each other. Great that there are people here who will stretch your understanding and challenge your sloppy thinking and do so with grace and love.

Big day tomorrow. Agenda starts at 9:15am and continues until 9pm (although tonight we went on until 9:30pm).

Good night

Sponsored Ride for the British Heart Foundation

I was reading one of my cycling magazines the other day and browsed the list of events at the back. I was disappointed to note that they are nearly all on Sunday's which is a problem for me.

So when I saw the British Heart Foundation: Vale of Belvoir Bike Ride 2010 was close to me and on a Saturday I decided to have a go.

So please sponsor me at Dave Warnock's Heart Foundation Page on the left you can see a widget tracking progress.

I am making life easy for me by only collecting online sponsorship so please use your debit cards, paypal or if you still have them a credit card at Dave Warnock's Heart Foundation Page to support the good work done by the British Heart Foundation. In the process you will also be helping to encourage me to keep my own heart in better shape through a bit more exercise.

A big thank you and much kudos to Sally for being the first sponsor and within nano seconds of me announcing it on twitter/facebook. Who is going to be next? When are you going to join in?

Oh and it will be a bit of a busy day as we have our next Cafechurch event that night at Costa Coffee in Wellingborough on "Do you have faith in politics?" (appropriate for the Saturday after the general election).

It is not cycle friendly when

Lovely weather on my day off so I went on a nice bike ride from Raunds to Oundle to join Jane and her sister Anne for lunch. 

The route should be lovely, car free through Stanwick Lakes to Islip and then on to Aldwinckle with quiet back roads from there to Oundle. Total distance there is about 14 miles.

However, it is totally ridiculous when the right bike for a gentle ride through the regions premier visitor attraction followed by some bridal ways, quiet roads and a byway is a full suspension mountain bike.

Meadow Lane is a bridal way that connects Raunds to Stanwick Lakes. It is the only way to Stanwick Lakes for cyclists, pedestrians and mobility scooters that avoids crossing the A45 (at this point a busy dual carriageway) at a busy roundabout with no assistance. So it is an important route. The surface is so potholed that they have been patching it with piles of bricks. I kid you not, some potholes have been filled with bricks, the smallest pieces being about 1/4 brick size. The pothole filling has not been enough to avoid some points where puddles go right across the bridal way forcing pedestrians into the bushes.

At the bottom of Meadow Lane is an underpass going under the A45. Last time I rode through the flooding was so bad I got wet feet. This time an agile pedestrian and a mountain bike can get past reasonably clean and dry. After that you have to do through two tight kissing gates to get into Stanwick lakes. I think that a disabled person is supposed to be able to open the padlock to get through but the gates are not fitted properly so even if you had a key the gate will not open fully. My bike only fits if I lift the front wheel and balance it vertically on the back wheel. Stupid restrictions from someone who has never thought about getting a pushchair, child trailer, trailer bike, mobility scooter through.

Ok then into Stanwick Lakes, nice riding although the surface will rip through any road bike tyres so I guess 28mm or larger with good puncture resistance is needed.

As you approach Islip after you go under the A14 you are essentially abandoned. No clear track. I made the wrong choice and was cycling through a flood between the river and a small lake. Well over my shoes as I pedalled from hassock to hassock. What a crazy situation! Provide a nice facility at Stanwick Lakes and then not finish the routes to anywhere.

From Islip you can go along Mill Road, go round the fishing lake and get to Aldwinkle. Not too bad although the fishermen drive at crazy speeds on the rough gravel.

Aldwinkle to Oundle is nice quite back roads, if you are reasonably careful and not too heavy it will be ok on road bike wheels and tyres.

On the way home I took the drift Road/Byway from around Wadenhoe towards Islip. Impassible to any bike except a mountain bike and I wished I had grippier mud tyres.

So it was a nice 28 mile ride, but it should have been suitable for anyone with pretty much any bike. How can we claim to be encouraging cycling when for a simple ride between two towns (on what should be the obvious cycle route) you need a full suspension mountain bike and need to assume you will get wet feet.

Summary. Lovely countryside, pathetic cycle facilities.