Sunday, 13 May 2018

Captain's Blog April/May 2018

I could have used Elijah with me as I tried to light the New Fire on Easter Morning! (See 1 Kings 18) Despite my best efforts it refused to catch. However the sun rose on cue and we had a wonderful time up at Stafford Castle with a great view over the town.   I carried the ‘new light’ back to St John’s in a hurricane lamp and from this, lit the Paschal Candle.

The Farming Community Network is a dementia friendly charity and so it was a delight to have training session with Di Wallace from Dementia Action Alliance.  

The Diocese of Lichfield has also appointed several people to promote our churches as being dementia friendly.

Jane and I took ourselves off for a three day self-led retreat at The Sheldon Centre in Devon.  As ever we had a great time particularly reflecting on the future and retirement in 2019.    From Sheldon we travelled to Cornwall to catch up with Daniel, Tracey, Kerryn and Lowenna.  We also took the opportunity of looking over our house after our last tenant had recently vacated the property.  Sad to say she did not leave it in good condition with some very basic cleaning not done!  We have now got the house back on the market and really hoping and for a quick and simple sale with an acceptable price so we don’t face negative equity. On the way back we stopped overnight to catch up with Joe and Alex in Bristol. 

We had to get back to Stafford because on the Sunday I was running in the rescheduled Stafford Half Marathon which I completed in 2.23.08. I have to recognize that the days of running a sub-two half are now past! 

The travelling continued as the next day I was up and off early to get to Church Army’s Sheffield Centre for a Regional Day.  This was an opportunity to catch up on developments in Church Army and also a great time catching up with CA friends and colleagues.

The Diocese spent some time with LICC (London Institute of Contemporary Christianity) putting together a suit of bespoke materials that it is hoped will embed Frontline Discipleship principles into the DNA of churches.  Alan Betts and I are engaging with St Lawrence’s in Biddulph on the twelve month programme.  Because Alan had to be away for a family funeral (his mum) I led the first session on my own looking at Preaching for the Front Line.

I continue to partner with St James, Newchapel and ran a Saturday Morning with them looking at Evangelism as part of the Diocesan Direction of Travel of Evangelism, Discipleship and Vocation.  

Then three & and a half days at Swanwick for the Bishop’s Clergy Conference with an array of outstanding speakers helping us to reflect on hope. Here is a link to the talks…

At the end of April we had an Away Day with my home Church of St John’s, Littleworth with John Marshall leading us as we reflected on our vocation and calling as the People of God.

Moving into May I had a meeting with a Priest, Fr John Baines new into the Diocese who has been appointed to look after three parishes (five churches) up on the Staffordshire Moorland around Lognor.  I was disappointed on the way back that  I couldn't catch a couple of lambs who had climbed over the wall and couldn't get back in.  I was hoping that someone would stop and come and help me, but no one did and so in the end I had to give up and drive away concerned about these two lambs probably ending being run over.  

In the evening leading of that same day I led my home Church Growth Group exploring the readings and the Sunday sermon/talk. 

I am delighted that the Diocesan Rural Mission Team is developing and we had a great meeting thinking about two days we have coming up 'Conversation & Consultations' looking at Structures. 
Back in my home Church I co-led an interesting Morning Worship as we explored and engaged with Godparents Sunday.

Afterwards Jane and I dashed of to Cornwall as we had an offer on our house so we wanted to go and tidy the place up, pass over papers and say one last goodbye. 

It was a delight to go to the Arthur Rank Center for the Germinate Lecture ‘Examining the ground under our feet’ with Bishop Rachel Treweek.  She offered an excellent lecture calling us back to first principles of seeking God's Kingdom come upon earth rather than run around trying to simply fix presenting problems of lack of numbers, ageing congregations, lack of finance, etc. etc.  Well worth a listen - check out the Germinate web site.

‘Chewing the Cud’ is a time for FCN volunteers to gather together informally along with any others who may care to join us. We never know quite how many are going to turn up and what we are going to chat about - but it is always interesting as we pass our views with courtesy and respect, often about a whole range of issues surrounding agriculture and the countryside. 

Keeping with farming I went along with an FCN display to the Staffordshire YFC (Young Farmers Club) Annual Rally at Hollington.

We nudged into double figures at St Anne's, Brown Edge on Sunday 13th May with some visitors including a young couple of who getting married there later on in the year.  I do wonder what they make of it all with an elderly congregation, struggling to sing hymns that really require a good company of people or a choir and with Scriptures readings that were just a tad obscure, especially when not put into any kind of context. I did wonder about ditching the prepared sermon and offering something else but did not get the feeling that I should, (or lacked confidence!) Again I was left wondering what those visitors made of it all.  I would really like to have asked them but they didn't stay around for long enough! One lady was visiting in the area dog sitting for friends and she mentioned the struggle she had in finding the Church entrance - very interesting. How easy it is for us who are used to things to forget what a struggle it can be for those who are not used to things or familiar with the way things proceed.  Which is why I always like to guide people through a Service with references occasionally to page numbers. 

Some other appointments coming up...

Monday 14th
Rural Missions Solutions Trustees Meeting in London

Tuesday 15th
Meeting with JC as his Spiritual Companion.

Wednesday 16th - it’s my Birthday!

Thursday 17th
Midlands Rural Officers Conference looking at housing developments in rural areas.

Friday 18th
Meeting with DC as his Spiritual Companion.

Monday 21st
Meeting with my own Spiritual Companion

Tuesday 22nd – Thursday 24th
National Missioners Summer Gathering at Blackpool

Wednesday 30th & Thursday 31st
Staffordshire County Show.  Heading up Teams for the Church Tent and Honorary Show Chaplain. This year we are being joined by people from Rising Brook Baptist Church – pray that this partnership will be a fruitful development as 2019 will be my last Show.

A Prayer for The Show...

Loving Heavenly Father, as we engage with the County Show we pray that we may do so with grace, fun and a generosity of spirit. We pray for the conversations we will have and for all the people we will meet. For all the cups of tea and coffee we shall serve. In all of this and through all of this we pray that you Lord, may be glorified. We pray that those who have been negligent of the faith may be intrigued to seek to discover more, those who are joyous in their journey of faith find a place to share their joy and that those who are struggling may find a place of comfort and consolation.  Above all we pray that your Shekinah Glory, your very Holy Presence would come and inhabit the Church Tent and all the works of the enemy would be banished. 

Lord hear our prayer.

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