Category Archives: Uncategorized

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,

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).

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.

Methodist Church and Alcohol Licensing

Raunds Methodist Church received a very helpful letter from East Northamptonshire Council today.

It explains the new mandatory conditions set by the Government on 6th April 2010 put on our premises license:

"They put a duty on those who manage licensed premises and clubs to prohibit irresponsible promotions and the dispensing of alcohol directly into the mouth of another; they also require those who manage licensed premises and clubs to provide free tap water to customers on request"

I am reasonably confident that our complete ban of all alcohol on Methodist premises means we can comply fairly easily. I wonder if the free coffee and tea we usually offer count for anything.

I did ring the council, it seems their computer system does not distinguish between entertainment and alcohol licenses so everyone got the letter.

Seems a fairly typical assumption that entertainment always requires alcohol. What a crazy world.

Disclaimer

Disclaimer

Please note that what I write on this blog:

  • doesn’t necessarily represent the views of the Methodist Church in Britain in which I serve as an Ordained Minister. 
  • doesn’t necessarily represent the views of the Methodist Churches and Circuit in which I serve.
  • doesn’t necessarily represent the views of the Council of the Methodist Church in Britain on which I sit as a representative of the Northampton District. I would not want, as a member of that body, to offer any commentary which detracted from or sought to interfere with the decisions of that body. 
  • Instead what I say on my blog is personal comment.

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Improving the chances of snow

If you want to improve the chances of snow at your British home town during the Christmas season I have a simple solution.

Volunteer to drive people down to the Whitechapel Mission in London to cook breakfast for people who are homeless.

I think that since moving to Raunds it has now worked 3 out of 4 Christmases (we didn't book early enough to get a place one year).

Anyway I'll be leaving at 4am in the morning taking a car load of clothes, good and toiletries (and 4 volunteers squashed in) and there is still snow on the roads in Raunds.

Actually, it would probably be better for people who are homeless if I stopped volunteering at Christmas as being homeless when it snows is terrible. Fortunately the Whitechapel Mission have a policy of opening up the Church for people to sleep in when the temperature drops below freezing. A lot of extra work for the staff but infinitely better than even more of their friends dying on the streets (even though I only get to go a few times a year there are people I have known where that has happened).