Pastoral letter May 2018 – Jonah

Dear Friends,

Is it a whale?  No, it’s a fish but it was at least as big as a whale…  Fishing stories have had a habit of growing – the one that got away was how big?  In the month of June the Methodist Church is encouraging us all to engage with the fishy story of Jonah.  It is a wonderful story involving a huge fish (nobody ever says it’s a whale), cows and sheep putting on sackcloth and a human being rather fed up with life, God and everyone!

Over 4 Sundays we will consider each chapter in Jonah (there are 4 chapters) with a couple of opportunities to sink deeper into the story with time for conversation.  How does God speak to us today through the Bible?  Have stories like Jonah got any relevance for the world and my life today? Just how do you get a herd of cows into sackcloth?  I encourage you to ask questions as we share in this journey together, to enjoy the humour and discover the connections between the ancient world, the world today and God.

The circuit preachers have all freely given of their time attending a conference and a training day as we worked out together how we might share the story creatively and with a sense of coherence.  This circuit is very blessed to have this group of preachers and I encourage congregations to repay this work with enthusiasm and willingness.

As we set off on this journey together I offer this quote which was shared in the training.  It is from the book ‘Teaching a Stone to Talk:  Expeditions and Encounters’ (1982) written by Annie Dillard:

“Why do people in church seem like brainless tourists on a package tour of the Absolute?  Does anyone have the foggiest idea of what sort of power we blithely invoke?  It is madness for ladies to wear straw hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets.  Stewards should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews.”

Have fun!



Gaming review

Churches, including the Methodist Church, have welcomed the government’s  response to the review of fixed odds betting terminals. But they also note that, “In welcoming this proposed action, we want to make it clear that in addition to the major challenge presented by FOBTs, there are also wider issues associated with gambling that require serious political commitment to address.”


Preparing for the General Church Meeting

The annual General Church Meeting will be held at  10.30am on Sunday 3rdJune. In preparation for this, the Minister and Church Stewards draw attention to the following points and invite us all to consider, prayerfully, the issues involved:

  • we need to appoint at least 3 church stewards – it is essential that there is at least one appointed Steward named on duty each Sunday;
  • holding a Service of Worship covers a range of tasks, not all of which need to be (or currently are) done by Church Stewards – it is right and good that these are shared out as far as possible and appropriate;
  • a sense of “teamwork” is the right approach – whatever anyone can and does do is valuable and valued, whether they hold an “official” position or not;
  • being able to offer help once or just a few times is useful – it is not necessary to be present always or often to be ‘part of a team’;
  • our current numbers and other factors mean that we need to be flexible and realistic about what must, can, and cannot be done;
  • representation to the Church Council is also an agenda item;
  • between now and 3rdJune, further thinking and conversations will be taking place to help the GCM reach its decisions.

If you have comments or suggestions to make ahead of the GCM, please do so to Nick, Jenny, Graham, or Sue M-J. Thank you!

Progress in our redevelopment

Sue reports that we have now had a visit from the Structural Engineer and detailed plans have been drawn up.  These have now gone to the Quantity Surveyor and we are waiting to hear back on rough costings which will enable us to start our fundraising in earnest!

Can you help on Sundays?

Worship on a Sunday morning requires input from more than the preacher, the steward and the organist.

Have you considered offering to help in one or more of the following ways?

  • Greeting people at the door
  • Serving tea and coffee after worship
  • Assisting in the counting of the collection(s)

Please contact Jenny or one of the stewards if you would like to find out more.

All We Can’s work in Malawi

Malawi is one of the most impoverished countries in the world. While making progress, having held five peaceful presidential elections since 1993 and achieved steady growth in GDP, around 50% of the population still live below the international poverty line. There are many problems in Malawi that have contributed to such a high poverty rate: an over-reliance on subsistence farming, steady population growth, and the impact of the HIV/Aids crisis.

All We Can is working in the southern-most regions of Malawi with local organisations committed to seeing long-term and transformative change in the communities they work in.

All We Can works currently with 4 partners

  • Churches Action in Relief and Development
  • Adolescent Girls Literacy+
  • Eagles Relief and Development Programme
  • Foundation for Civic Education

Read more about these partners.

Greener energy for the church

Light-Bulb icon by Till Teenck greenAs from 1 April 2018, our church electricity supply is paid for through Ecotricity. All Ecotricity’s electricity comes from wind or solar power.

Our new contract is also cheaper than that offered by our previous supplier – so we save both carbon and money.