All are Welcome in this place

We sing this from time to time, but I have been challenged to take it more seriously.  I was very impressed with the arrangements at Methodist Conference to make the Conference accessible in all sorts of ways including a ramp up to an adjustable podium.

This came after learning that someone was not able to attend worship at our church because they turned up in a wheelchair.  This is a matter of regret and something we have the ability to do something about.  In addition, I recognise some of our own members struggle with the stairs.  Whilst we are working on plans for a lift as part of the refurbishment, this will take quite some time.  At the worship consultation we discussed meeting downstairs for worship on a Sunday.  Whilst there are some practical issues, these can be resolved and we are small enough in number to fit comfortably downstairs.  I would like us to try this so that we truly are a welcoming place of worship.

Welcoming all can also mean going out of the building to let people know they are welcome.  The first Dundee Pride takes place on Saturday 22nd September.  I have reserved a space in the march for Dundee Methodist Church.  I shall be going along with a few others.  If any of you would like to join us or find out more, please speak to me.

Nick

Worship Consultation brief résumé

Wednesday afternoon’s discussion included the following:

  • feedback on “Jonah in June” and Café Service and Trip for lunch at St John’s, Arbroath;
  • lengthy conversation about the challenges for all of us of how to actively be and appear “welcoming to and of all”
  • Harvest – Café Service on  23rd September based on All We Can material;
  • care for, interaction with, and involvement of children in worship, across a range of ages;
  • window and porch displays
  • next Meeting – Wednesday  7th November, 1pm.

The Start of the Methodist Year

The new Methodist Year starts on 1st September, and is the time for the new Church Stewards team to take office. We express our prayerful and active support to the new Church Stewards for the forthcoming year, our thanks to those continuing or demitting office, and our appreciation to all office-holders in our church community.

Pastoral letter from Nick

Dear Friends

It was good to join with so many other Methodists from around the UK and the world at the Methodist Conference in Nottingham.  Gathering with several hundred others to worship, sing, listen and confer was a real privilege and encouragement, if also at times somewhat challenging.  It was a strong reminder that we are connected with a body much bigger than just our local churches, circuits or even District.  Conversations about God at work in the world, what it means to be Methodist in our working out of our faith, how we relate with other churches and faiths are all shaped by Methodists from Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Norfolk, Yorkshire, London etc.

A bit like a Church Council there are plenty of differing views and yet we were all held together by a common faith, a mutual love and respect.  A guided conversation was held in front of the conference between two people from very differing perspectives regarding marriage and relationships.  The respect and love that shone through at this point was an example for all of us about how we engage with one another.  I have reproduced the guidance here about how we hold together as a Christian community whilst living with contradictory ideas.  Living as a community with contradictory ideas is nothing new as many of the letters in the New Testament testify but St Paul encouraged people to recall their primary identity as members of the body of Christ.

The body connects us in life and through death.  This is good for us to remember as we mourn the death, and celebrate the life, of Heather  – a local preacher in this Circuit and Methodist throughout her life.  We give thanks for her ministry amongst us, her commitment to her Lord, her challenge to live in sympathy with the environment, and the reminder of infinite grace.

With love

Nick

A model statement on Living with Contradictory Convictions

We continue to believe that God has been revealed in Jesus Christ, accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, and live in communion with God and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We cherish our place within Christ’s Church recognising that it is Christ alone who chooses, calls and confirms us as members of His church, the body of Christ.

Whilst we may not all agree about everything, we recognise the importance of the truths which bind us together as well as the issues which currently divide us.

Therefore, we resolve:

  • To engage with each other openly, honestly, prayerfully and graciously
  • To treat each other with respect and dignity, recognising the sincerity of the faith of those who may see things differently
  • To seek to learn from one another as we travel together as fellow pilgrims
  • To renounce all language and behaviours that attempt to coerce others to change their views or beliefs
  • To seek, as far as conscience allows, to preserve the fellowship of Christ’s Church
  • To unite under the authority of scripture as we seek live as authentic Christian disciples in our own generation

Needing a minister?

The Rev Nick Baker is at Conference until Thursday 5th July. If you need a minister before Thursday, please contact the Rev Nik Wooller.

Safeguarding Refresher Training: Foundation Level

Foundation Level refresher training is mandatory for the following groups of people.

  • all ministers and deacons, except those not in active ministry
  • workers with children or young people
  • workers with vulnerable adults
  • pastoral visitors
  • church stewards
  • circuit stewards
  • local preachers, worship leaders and trainees for either of those roles

If you belong to one of these groups, and did not receive the training last year, you should make every effort  to attend now.

The sessions, however, are open to all, regardless of membership of these groups.

Sessions will be held as follows

Marketgait               Tuesday 5th June 2.30pm to 4.30pm

St John’s Arbroath          Thursday 7th June 2pm to 4pm

SCYD, Blairgowrie             Friday 15th June 1pm to 3pm

Scott Street, Perth         Tuesday 26th June 1pm to 3pm.

Please let Marcia Mackenzie know if you intend to attend one of these sessions.

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!

Love

Nick

Pastoral Committee résumé

At Tuesday’s meeting, members of the Pastoral Committee

  • shared news of Members and others
  • undertook re-allocation of those previously under the pastoral care of Paddy;
  • noted the forthcoming Baptism of Angus Jacka (Australian family with grandparental links to Montrose Methodist Church) by the Rev Nick Baker during worship on Sunday 13thMay;
  • agreed an Act of Re-dedication of Pastoral Visitors during worship on an appropriate date on next quarter’s Plan;
  • agreed next meeting for Tuesday 6th November at 10.15am in Marketgait.

Pastoral letter from Nick February 2018

Dear friends

“Overdose for Christmas, give it for Lent” sang Robbie Williams in his song Millennium. Perhaps this was a critique of modern society/religion but the idea of “giving it for Lent” has been around for as long as I can remember – the “it” being whatever we choose – coffee, chocolate, alcohol, etc.

This may be a way in to Lent but it misdirects us from the richness of the season. In her recently published book the Divine Heart of Darkness, Methodist Minister Cathy Bird reflects on her experience in Longyearbyen in Svalbard – the most northerly inhabited town in the world. Staying during a period of perpetual night Cathy delves into the darkness “finding God in the shadows”.

Lent offers a time to explore – the idea of giving things up flows from the tradition of fasting – a practice of self-denial allowing us to focus more thoughtfully on our relationship with the living God.

The first words Jesus speaks in the gospel according to Mark includes the phrase “repent and believe the good news”. It is both a turning away from but also a positive embracing of the kingdom. In this spirit I invite you to join with me to take some time, delve into the darkness, and as part of this pray week by week for the communities of which we are a part; as a member of the local church to pray for the preacher who is preparing to lead worship at the church in that week; and for Preachers to pray for the churches where you will be leading worship. Together we build one another up to the glory of God. (And if you are still worried about chocolate – don’t give it up just commit yourself to buying fairtrade)!

With love
Nick

Thinking about Advent

Dear friends

Bah humbug! I have just spotted another advert on the TV advertising Christmas and it is only the beginning of November. I think I am turning into Ebenezer Scrooge – Lord have mercy! I have found myself chuntering about the deluge of adverts now Halloween is over. Having turned 50 a couple of years back I am clearly on the slide to Grumpy Old Man status.

BUT…I do believe it is important to wait for Christmas otherwise we end up devaluing it. For us, as Christians, Christmas is first and foremost a spiritual event and cannot be rushed. Think of Mary waiting for 9 months – you cannot rush a pregnancy! The church has used the time before Christmas to help us prepare (Prepare the way of the Lord say Isaiah and John the Baptist). For the Church, the Christmas season begins on Christmas Day and lasts through to January 5th (twelfth night). Epiphany is celebrated on 6th January recalling the arrival of the wise men/magi/stargazers/kings or the ones who got to wear the posh clothes instead of the tea towels in the school nativity.

At the recent local preachers training day, preachers and others gathered to think about Advent and how we can use this time in our churches to help us prepare to celebrate Christmas. All the circuit churches were represented and between us we reflected on the Bible passages we might encounter in Advent and what ideas might flow from this. This is being developed as a gift offered for use by all our churches along with the traditional advent wreath.

One of the key questions for us in advent is what does it mean to let Jesus a little bit more into my life? What does it look/feel like? A time for honest reflection – thinking about what it means to be in the dark, or what it feels like to be trapped? Can we open ourselves just a little bit more in the knowledge that we are met with the truth of God – the light of the world breaking through boundaries, the word becoming flesh reaching out with love. Christmas is huge! Like the arrival of a first child, it is like nothing we have ever encountered and turns our lives upside down: it even has the capacity to transform a grumpy old Ebenezer Scrooge. No wonder the shepherds were terrified and amazed and the angels sang “Glory to God in the highest” (but not before Christmas night!!)

With love

Nick