Monthly Archives: August 2010

Reflections on the Methodist People

We are in the middle of moving after 5 years in my first appointment as a Methodist Minister. In a sense this is our first proper Methodist move, from one manse to another.

We have been very fortunate as I am moving to replace Ian who has just retired (for the 2nd time, after coming back from retirement and doing an extra 5 years). Ian and Irene moved out a couple of weeks ago (leaving an immaculate manse & garden plus superbly detailed handover notes and diary) which has meant the Leicester North Circuit have been able to get a lot of work done on the manse for us.

That has included a new driveway and turning a small built in garage into a utility room & downstairs loo. Today we delivered our folding camper (and a car load of fragile stuff) and so were able to have a look at the finished work.

This is one situation where as a minister you really get to appreciate the character of the Methodist people. The love and care of both the Nene Valley Circuit that we are leaving and the Leicester North Circuit that we are joining is quite amazing. It is not just thoughtfulness but generosity of giving of time, love and also clearly much prayer.

I want to share some examples from both Circuits, as an expression of thanks but also to celebrate the character of the people called Methodist.

First, where we are going. The Leicester North Circuit:

  • Pete, the Circuit Steward who has been responsible for manses has been wonderfully caring even before our first meeting way back in November. He has taken great care to consider our needs and consult us on all the work planned. He has made sure all the work has been done to a high quality and on time. He must have put in many hours over the months and especially over the last few weeks.  The care has included not just travelling to Ikea with another Circuit Steward to buy 6 Billy bookcases for the study but then as a team assembling them and checking we were happy with the positions so that on Monday he can fix them to the walls.
  • Today Murray and Eileen, who live just down the road, had invited us for coffee as they knew we were coming over with a pile of stuff. Well it was not just coffee but also fresh cakes, choice of drinks including coke or hot chocolate for our boys and a big plate of special biscuits put in front of our youngest. They have also offered us food in evening the day we move in and storage for our bike trailer on their drive.
  • On moving day another Circuit Steward, Mick, is going to try to clear cars away to allow the removal van space to park and has offered to help with the moving in.
  • While Pete & Eileen have been away at New Wine, Trevor, the Circuit Treasurer, stepped in to make sure everything was finished properly. That included a full cleaning team of people who came in yesterday and have left the place sparkling clean with all the carpets shampooed.
  • In the study there was a vase of fresh flowers. Don't know which kind person thought of them.
  • There was also a huge envelope of leaflets about everything happening all around the area plus an A-Z map with post-it notes on every page giving details of everything from the rubbish tip to places to eat to all the churches in the circuit, … – thanks to Kathryn
  • There were welcoming cards from people. Plus while we were there the postman delivered the first mail for us, the Preaching Plan for September through November with the Circuit Newsletter – thanks to Laurie the Circuit Administrator for sorting that out.
  • I could go on and on

Then consider the Nene Valley Circuit we are leaving:

  • Generous gifts and lots of kind words from all over the circuit. Some like the large cartoon drawing by Mandy of me cycling to Leicester towing all our stuff in a trailer showed lots of thought and huge amounts of time. Others have been very personal reminders of things we have done together, times we have shared.
  • Huge support from the Circuit Staff: Peter, Mike & Marie. Especially during the hassle of the last few weeks fighting the moth infestation which has taken my time away from other things, a time when they have been extra busy sorting out the next year which is complicated for this circuit by the reality that I am not being replaced immediately.
  • The support of the Circuit Stewards particularly John in helping with a proper handover of many things.
  • Chris, responsible for the manse who has been so supportive as we tried to find a way to deal with the moths that worked best for us. Plus for her concern for us as we sorted out handover of the manse.
  • Jennie, the circuit administrator for taking over several things for me in the last few weeks.
  • All the leadership teams from the Churches I have been serving who have all been busy taking on tasks and making plans being very generous and considerate in their expectations.
  • Pam and Peter for inviting us to lunch tomorrow after another dash over to Leicester.
  • Pete and Lucy for meals, encouragement and help with packing tomorrow.
  • For Debbie for lots of practical and considerate things including compost moving.
  • So many others who have helped in many ways.

As I said at the beginning we are in the middle of moving. The removal company do their stuff on Monday and Tuesday so things are getting close to the end of this stage. I think we will be ready but there will inevitably be things that are not completed as we would like.

What I want to do tonight though is celebrate the love, care and actions of the Methodist People that surround us. Without that we would not be ready and we would be dreading the next few weeks. As it is they have been wonderful witness to the love of God for us and I thank them all for it. It is such a wonderful privilege and joy to have been called to be a Methodist Minister and while the sadness of leaving so many fantastic people is strong the joy of being with others helps us look to the future.

This will be my last blog post from Raunds. So it is goodbye from here.

The ConDem government’s encouragement of dangerous and violent driving

The Government is trying to save money. That can be a very good thing.

However, when you use the excuse of saving money to make changes that

a) will end up costing far more money

b) endanger many lives

c) pander to the rich

then it is not a good thing. In fact it is a terrible thing.

Our government is doing this crazy thing by shutting down speed cameras and massively reducing funding for road safety. This makes no sense.

I have been caught by a speed camera a couple of times. The points from the first one have long expired and for the second I got an option to go on a speed awareness course (which was actually pretty good).

Speed cameras have changed my driving. It needed to change as I would break speed limits a lot. Now I am far more careful. That does not make me a better driver but it does massively reduce the chances of me killing someone (and it also saves me a lot of money in fuel).

One road near us that has benefited greatly from speed cameras is the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon which has average speed cameras all the way. Since they were fitted it has become a much better road to drive on. A simple comparison with the A14 from Huntingdon to the M6 makes it obvious that when it is busy the average speed cameras help traffic flow a great deal easier with far less sudden speed changes.

So now we are losing all the benefits of speed cameras (which can only be installed where there have been accidents) so that money can be saved. But

a) this ignores all the other costs associated with speeding. Hospital costs, loss of life, emergency services, fuel, carbon footprint

b) It ignores the costs of death and injury that speed makes so much more likely (and makes the results of an "accident" much more severe) such as loss of people from the workforce (bad for employers and bad for tax income), need to support families that lose the wage earner, support for children that lose their parents, support for parents who lose their children. The list goes on and on.

c) It ignores the fact that speed cameras are nearly self funding. A very low cost way of reducing death and injury on the roads. (Note the duplicity where we are told speed cameras are costing us money while at the same time we are told that they are a part of a war on motorists).

At the heart of this is an idea that speeding is not really breaking the law. That flexibility is needed to allow for special cases.  Rubbish.

Speeding is a crime that has the potential to cause more harm than many others (most other crimes do not result in anyone's death or permanent disability).

If we really want to save money then it makes good economic sense to install many more speed cameras.

For more see Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest: The ConDem government’s encouragement of dangerous and violent driving. For a scary catalogue of some of the deaths caused by speeding just look through the recent posts on Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest sadly there are multiple deaths and serious injuries reported there each week.

Rushing around

We move in just over a week. It would be nice to think we were ready but …

This time we have been trying extra hard to be a lot more organised and get rid of huge amounts of stuff (for example we have reduced the bike count by 5 – I confess some of the reduction is temporary). But despite all the work so far, this last week is full of rushing around.

Although we only collected our downsized car on Friday (see 42: More on a lighter footprint) we have already done nearly 500 miles in it (according to the dash an average of 47.4 mpg). Today that included a trip back to Luton to have a USB box fitted so that iPods etc can play through the stereo (they forgot it last week).

This afternoon I have made 3 trips to the recycling centre. That means I have cleared all the bits we have removed on Thursday in order to restore the garage to being a garage rather than an insulated music room/store. I also took all the bits accumulated around the garden that did not go with the normal recycling. I am starting to get to know the people at the recycling centre quite well.

Fortunately we have had a luggage trailer passed onto us by my brother and so I have been able to use that to carry all the stuff to the dump (plasterboard, insulation, broken furniture, plants Jane has killed etc) without needing to get the car yucky. We also used the trailer for a couple of trips carrying all my tools (I inherited a lot from Dad who had many of his own plus he inherited many from his Dad, Mums Dad and an Uncle) to our new home in Syston. This was a lot easier than packing them all in cardboard boxes and then having to unpack them at the far end. It meant we were also able to carry the things the removal people would not carry last time (camping gaz, white spirit etc).

I have also got rid of pretty much everything that needed to go to Churches and filled the car with stuff for charity shops tomorrow. The trailer has nearly another load in it, mostly wood  (youngest son has just grown out of his not quite full length bed and it was so bashed that could not be passed on in pieces with any hope of re-assembly).

Yesterday we even managed to get the Dandy folding caravan and it's awning emptied of stuff and folded away ready to move. That started filling the garage back up (we did have to empty it completely to remove both ceiling and floor).

We now have another bedroom almost completely cleared and done. The garage is now filling up with packed boxes so we have a bit more space to move around in the house.

Both our older sons are away this week, fortunately (only from a personal perspective) we have been able to delay our actual move until next week which means they are back to help us move things like the laser pico over the weekend.

I have just been invited out to a late lunch with a friend tomorrow so at least something to look forward to. Sadly I think I need to spend the morning cutting the hedge – that is one thing I won't miss when we have moved.

As you can see we are leading a very exciting life at the moment :-)