Category Archives: Methodist

Fresh Bible stuff in Syston

Syston Methodist Church are celebrating the 400th Anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible this autumn. We have three related events

Bible Reading Challenge

Starting at our Church Anniversary on Sunday 9th October we have a challenge to read the whole New Testament in 30 days. I am delighted that having put the notice out last week we already have over 20 people signed up for this.

The key objective is to Deepen our Discipleship (Our Circuit Mission is: Deepening Discipleship. making New Disciples) through encouraging us all to read the Bible more and improve our understanding of Scripture. This reading challenge will help especially with understanding God's big picture and also improving our experience of the relationships between the books, characters and events of the New Testament.

However, we have added a little side objective which is to raise some money for the mission of Syston Methodist Church and for Bible Translation. So there is a £5 entry fee (gets you the reading plan), opportunities for sponsorship and a £10 "fine" if you give up before the end.

If anyone out there in Internet land would like to join in, I am happy to recieve donations amd then email you the reading plan.

We are also making sure we support and encourage those on the challenge so we are offering two suppoert groups that will meet weekly starting the week before the challenge. So far just over half those signed up for the reading challenge have also signed up for the small groups which means both are going ahead.

Bible Exhibition

Towards the end of the Bible Reading Challenge we are putting on a Bible Exhibition with a lareg collection of Bibles in different languages & formats. It will include a guide to English translations and also people's own Bibles with their stories of why they are important to them. We hope to have a number of other exhibitors as well.

The Exhibition will then feed into a new monthly event (normally 1st Sunday evening of the month, starting 6th November) at Syston at 6pm titled "A Fresh look at the Bible" which will be led by our Superintendent Minister Rachel and myself. We had a good session planning this today and I am really looking forward to this.

So a busy time, but the reactions have been great so I am very excited about what God is doing here.

Making the Methodist Church look radical

For many people it seems the Methodist Church has a reputation for having lost it's radical edge. Many people are apparently unaware of the many ways in which Methodists have been radical upsetters of society in the past.

For me one of the joys of being a Methodist Minister is seeing the radical fire within many in our Church and the different ways in which that radical passion is being freed, supported and even celebrated. In many different places and ways I see the fire of radical Christian discipleship burning brighter in the Methodist Church than I have ever seen before in my lifetime.

Given the perception of so many that the Methodist Church is staid, dead and not at all radical I found it very interesting last night to attend my first Leicester Cycle City Workshop.

When I compare that workshop with the other meetings so far this week I give thanks for the opportunities I have to work with fantastic, radical, exciting, passionate, loving people in the Methodist Church.

Leicester North Methodist Circuit Meeting :-)

A few observations on how a Circuit Meeting ought to be:

  • Friendly & welcoming with refreshments as you arrive (thanks Rothley, good job! Sue they were great biscuits!!!)
  • Interesting and encouraging (helped by two recent video's made by our Superintendent of a youth weekend and Birstall Messy Church). Also an upbeat presentation on Synod by the senior Circuit Steward etc etc
  • Theologically demanding. I was presenting a potential mission project for support by the Circuit and the Circuit Leadership had required me to include the theological basis for the project and show how it fits with the circuit mission ("Deepening Discipleship. Making New Disciples"). Fantastic, exactly what we should be doing at Circuit Meetings.
  • High expectations. The contributions from the meeting indicated that the Churches have high expectations of the Circuit. They expect things to be done to a high quality and are willing to invest to allow that to happen. We saw this in discussions of the Mission projects, worship resources, in relationship to manses and elsewhere.
  • Well led. The chair needs to be recognisable by their spiritual leadership, their professionalism and their love for God, the people and the tasks. All these and more are clearly visible in our Superintendent, but don't tell her I said so :-)
  • Moving. We had a great presentation on a proposal for a Leicester North Christian Counselling Service (still to have a proper name). The focuses on prayer support, professionalism and the needs of our community were strong and so was the response from the meeting – very encouraging for something that promises to be excelllent and which is now fully approved with resources committed :-)
  • Team. Our Circuit Leadership team always sit at the front of the Circuit Meeting and all lead at least one agenda item. Others from the Circuit also present items. The overall effect is one of teamwork. The Circuit Leaderdship team have already (and recently) discussed all the items on the agenda so again it comes across as a team effort.

Altogether now "I do like to be in the Leicester North Circuit, oh I do like to be in the Leicester North Ciircuit. Oh I do like to be beside the Soar and ride through Watermead" H'mm, might need a little more work on the lyrics there :-)

 

A year on from Reflections on the Methodist People

A year ago we had just moved to Syston and the Leicester North Methodist Circuit. As we were getting ready to move I wrote 42: Reflections on the Methodist People.

This year in Syston has gone really quickly. We are so fortunate to be here in a fantastic Methodist Circuit with 3 Churches full of lovely people and in a great town to live in.

 

My sincere thanks to all those who have been so welcoming, loving and caring over the last year.

 

Now I am off to a special Holiday Club service at Syston Methodist Church which nicely illustrates the commitment and gifts of this Church. It was an excellent holiday club with lots of adults helping and great kids – and it all happened without the Minister even being there or doing any of the planning (and far better as a result).

 

Methodist Conference – Ordination Day

My friend Pete, Secretary of the Methodist Church Faith and Order Committee, has written a long and excellent post on yesterday's Methodist Conference events and Ordination services. postmodernbible: Methodist Conference Day 4 #methconf – Ordination Day – Lyrically Amazing.

Unsurprisingly enough it took me back to my own 42: Ordination = !!!!!!! 4 years ago.

Last time I was at Conference for the reception into Full Connexion and then an Ordination Service was in 2009 (Wolverhampton) and I remember being in tears. Very powerful and very moving – also that year very hot :-)

So glad that we have ordained some wonderful people this year – quality is up compared to at least vone of them 4 years ago :-) We remembered those being ordained in our prayers both at Syston in the morning service and at Claremont Street in the evening,

You can keep up withb this years Methodist Conference in a variety of ways. See Conference Live – The Methodist Conference for video and tweets or on twitterfall.

Methodists Working With New Frontiers

My friend Dave Faulkner (also a Methodist Minister) has written a great blog post: Methodists Working With New Frontiers.

I am very happy with the decisions the Church Council at Addlestone Methodist Church.

It is maybe worth pointing out that I have never refused to work with another Church.

Once, after consulting with my Superintendent minister of the time, I did have to ask a Church not to use Methodist Premises for their Alpha courses as they were telling everyone in those meetings that only adult baptism was valid (given that the Alpha course originates in the Church of England it does not teach re-baptism itself). The same Church regularly approached active Methodist members to tell them they needed to get "properly" baptised. Yet despite these issues I continued to work with that Church in every area they were willing to do.

I have also had (and continue to have) excellent working relationships with the local Catholic Priests (here in Syston I have preached in the Catholic Church, taken part in Churches Together socials there and led an ecumenical lent group there. I have also acted as authorised person for a wedding there).

I have not yet served as a minister where there has been a New Frontiers Church. If/when I do then I will be willing to work with them, but with the same restrictions as with other Churches:

  • My understanding is that Methodist CPD (Constitution, Practice and Discipline) does now allow me to let people use Methodist premises if they are going to teach against Methodist Doctrine on those premises (and that is never a decision I would make on my own).
  • CPD makes it clear I cannot agree to marry someone if they are asking me to avoid being married by another minister (due to gender, race or anything else). While the Equalities and Diversities policies are not yet complete I apply this to the whole of ministry. If anyone comes to me and wants me to do something because I am a man and my colleague is a woman then I will not do it.
  • I will not participate in anything which would deny the gifts and callings of members of the Methodist Church. So if a Church won't work with our Senior Steward because she is a woman then I will not support anything that tries to sideline her from her position of authority within our Church.
  • I will not hide my views on issues such as gender, but I will not force them on others. I have thought long and hard about how this relates to the internet and am comfortable that it is entirely appropriate to challenge views such as male headship on the public internet while not always doing so face to face. 

Hopefully, this support's David's excellent post and clarifies my position.

Experiencing egalitarian blessings

Making progress.

The discussions here and on Andy's blog have led me to a new (for me anyway) idea.

I believe the Scriptural evidence for equality is clear. However, arguments based on evidence can only take us so far.

So I am now suggesting an alternative (or compliment). I want to offer those who believe equality in the Church is wrong a chance to see it in action, to experience it, to talk to real people and to see for themselves how God is blessing the Methodist Church through the ministry of women in positions of leadership in local Churches as well as in the wider Methodist Connexion.

I have shared some experiences in the past, but now I am suggesting more. Get past the filter. Come and talk directly to the women in leadership and to the women and men who have women as their leaders in authority.

So far I have specifically invited AdmiralCreedy and Phil Whittall

This is what I wrote to Phil:

Phil,

Ok we are getting somewhere. It seems we can agree that Male Headship denies equality (honesty about that is a big issue). Where we disagree is whether God requires this inequality or not.
There has been an article doing the rounds on twitter etc about the futility of argument to change peoples minds.
In the light of that I would like to invite you to come and visit us in Syston.
I would like to introduce you to some fantastic women in positions of authority in the Church and show you the fruits that God is blessing us with through them.
I would love you to meet Margaret who has just retired from Senior Church Steward (nearest equiv to an elder). She and two other women are currently on a year long Mission Shaped Ministry Course and leading our Circuit in setting up Fresh Expressions of Church.
I would love you to meet Ann who is currently one of the Senior Stewards, also on the Mission Shaped Ministry Course.
I would like you to meet my Superintendent Minister and people from the Churches that she ministers to so that you can hear of the huge change around that God has worked in this Circuit through her ministry.
I would like you to meet Jane Leach the new Principal of Wesley House, Cambridge.
I would like you to meet the current President of the Methodist Church, Alison Tomlin and the Vice President Eunice Attwood.
I would like to be able to spend a couple of weeks with you travelling round and meeting Women in Leadership in the Methodist Church. It would be a packed two weeks and in that time you wouldn't be able to meet more than a small fraction of the women that God has called and equipped for leadership in just the Methodist Church. But you would get a glimpse of the way that God is blessing us through these women, you would be able to see the fruits of the Spirit in their ministries. You would be able to meet people who have come to faith, people whose faith has grown, people whose lives have been transformed.
I submit to you that
a) We believe Scripture supports equality on gender as well as on ethnicity etc
b) Where we as a Church have embraced equality God has blessed us. In many places Methodism is being renewed and growing. Those of us within this Church can see that these are related, it is no coincidence.
Are you up for the challenge?

Please note that I have not cleared this with any of the women who are in leadership and I would not ask any of them to take part in anything that would be in anyway an attack on them or their ministry. However, we have so many fantastic examples of God blessing us through the leadership ministry of women that I am sure some can be found who are willing to take part.

I do believe we have nothing to hide. Equality is not embarrassing, we can delight in the way God blesses us when we embrace equality. This is one of those win win situations for us. We get to do what feels right (treat people equally), we get to be true to our understanding of Scripture, we get great extra people in leadership and as the icing on the cake so to speak God is showering blessings on us as we do this.

Who dares to come and see God at work :-)

The Spirit is moving….

Trinity Sunday/ Father's Day brought a baptism Service to Sherburn In Elmet, and a service that was filled with surprises. Again and again I am told that people are not interested in God, that they are far from the reach/move of the Spirit. Again and again I have contended that people ARE interested in spiritual things, that they want to know the God who loves them.

via sallysjourney.typepad.com

I love pointing to the wonderful way in which God blesses the Church and community through the women called & equipped by God for ministry in the Methodist Church.

So I delight in the fact that this summer Sally will be ordained as a Methodist Minister. Thanks to God for blessing us through Sally and many other Ministers who happen to be women.

Marketing to your own team – (37signals) -> for Churches

They can come over as arrogant and over confident in their own abilities. But this post Marketing to your own team – (37signals) applies directly to Churches:
When you start cutting corners, customers can’t always tell. But employees usually can. And that can be just as bad.
Think of this in terms of Love, Worship, of Bible Study, of Prayer, of Discipleship (in every form), of Giving, of Service, of Inclusion …
Have we cut corners? 

More anonymous support for New Frontiers fails to convince

An anonymous comment by someone going by the alias "sporado" has been put on my post 42: Lessons in rubbing salt in wounds from New Frontiers as a defence of New Frontiers that accuses my of "slanderous opinions".

Sadly for "sporado" the defence is as shaky as the understanding of law. Slander is defined as "Law Oral communication of false statements injurious to a person's reputation."

So this is what I am accused of:

* terry virgo was the speaker on 11 june. jack hayford spoke a month or so ago and the video is online. 

Oh dear, it seems that I was mistaken. I thought the video from Jack Hayford was a taster of what was happening on June 11th, but it looks now as if it was from an earlier 300leaders conference. In my defence the website still does not seem very clear. On the about page it still says "The next event is in March 2011, and Jack Hayford will be the speaker." Still to have been confused as to which date Jack Hayford was the speaker is hardly libel.

Of course the problem for "sporado" (who seems to be missing capital letters on their computer) is that the history of Jack Hayford was the only thing that stood against the total male bias of the 300leaders conference. As I pointed out in my post Terry Virgo has been making the Male Headship values of New Frontiers clearer than before. Terry Virgo explicitly states that Women should be submissive to their husbands and that the Church should be led by male elders.

* women are welcome to these events as are men. pause the jack hayford video at 1:07:18 and you will see plenty of people who are definitely female. hardly the testosterone fuelled man-fest that your rhetoric suggests.

So let us be clear on how welcome women are and what they are welcome as:

  • The 300leaders.org web site has the following features:
    • The strap line for the conference on the home page is: “With 300 Men” (Judges 7:7)
    • Not a single woman's name is mentioned anywhere on the site
    • There is not a single image including a woman
    • All the speakers are men
    • The key image is of men at war with "300 leaders" made to look like it has been written in blood.
  • 300leaders.org makes it clear that this is leadership training for and by New Frontiers.
    • New Frontiers clearly state that women cannot be leaders. They hold as their value 8:

‘A church led by male elders (one of whom is clearly understood to be gifted to be lead elder) who are ordained by the Holy Spirit, recognised and confirmed through apostolic ministry. These men are to be helped in fulfilling their calling through ongoing fellowship with trans-local ministries.’

  •  
    • New Frontiers clearly state that their value 7 is to be:

A church where Biblical family life is highly valued, where husband and wife embrace male servant leadership and joyful female submission, 

  •  
    • As I have pointed out in the past New Frontiers do not have women to speak at their main conferences unless they are the wives of their senior team and are only speaking on "womens" issues, so far as I know no male blogger has ever attended one of these talks and written about it.
    • As for the "testosterone" look again at the poster that 300leaders.org uses on the website and as a backdrop behind the speakers

300-men7481

The obvious conclusion is that women may be permitted to attend (presumably as a sign of "joyfull female submission") but that women will not be welcomed as equals and not welcome as leaders of the Church.

That conclusion is supported by the numerous emails I have had over the years from women within New Frontiers about how they are treated and the roles that are open to them.

"sporado" continues:

many of your slanderous opinions about new frontiers are way off the mark. is such uninformed rhetoric adherent to the Methodist code of conduct?

A few points:

  • Unlike "sporado" I do not hide here anonymously. 
  • As I have already mentioned I cannot write slander as slander is oral. 
  • I believe the above points make it very clear that the conference is targeted at men in the way it is presented and because New Frontiers clearly state that it is for leaders and the leaders of their church must be men. I see nothing that means my opinions are "way off the mark" or "uninformed rhetoric".
  • Yes, I absolutely agree that unlike "sporado" I am accountable for what I write. I invite "sporado" to follow this up with:
    • My Superintendent Minister: but oh dear that is a woman so presumably "sporado" does not believe she can be a leader and so can hardly respond satisfactorily on behalf of the Church (in fact she is extremely capable and will read this post and let me know very clearly if I overstep any marks).
    • Maybe "sporado" would like to go further up. Perhaps as this relates to another Church "sporado" might like to contact the Secretary for External Relationships. Except, oh dear, Christine Elliott is also a women (and been doing an excellent job for many years).
    • So perhaps "sporado" should go to the top, to the President. But sadly for "sporado", this year our president is Revd Alison Tomlin and our Vice President is Deacon Eunice Attwood. So despite the excellent job they are doing presumably they don't count.

More seriously, if you think I have broken the Methodist Guidelines, please do tell me or get in touch with the Church directly. I will see that it will get followed up by the Methodist Church and if they choose to respond to you I am fine with that. Of course they might also choose to ignore anonymous and ill-informed rubbish like "sporado" spouts.

"sporado" have a nice day.