flagging faith


Conference Bites 3 - more Presidency

Last week, I wrote about how I thought the changing of the titles within the Presidency might give people a better sense of the collaborative nature of the offices within it. I want to do further in order to make the 'significant part in the leadership of the Church' that the Presidency plays much more effective. Here goes: SUGGESTION 1 Change the way nominations for the offices are sought. Currently, we ask for ten members of the Conference (five ministers and five others) to sign the nomination forms. This means that 'Conference old-timers' - those well-known to other members of the Conference - have a huge advantage over others, especially in the election of the Vice-President. My suggest

Conference Bites 2 - Stationing

The report from the Stationing Committee makes for interesting/depressing reading. As expected, the number of successful matches in each round remains extremely high, since there is more choice in the appointments to which ministers may be sent. But the anticipated loss of another 100 presbyters in the active work in the next two years, and a decline in active deacons, means that the crisis in ministry for the Circuits continues. Reading the first and last sections of the report, you would be forgiven for thinking that two reports had been wrongly conflated. The opening paragraphs speak of the current situation offering 'increasingly challenging circumstances' and the lack of available minis

Conference Bites 1 - Presidency

For various reasons, I have been spending a bit of time recently thinking about the Presidency of the Methodist Conference and its evolution. It wasn't that long ago when the only chance the Vice-President got to chair the Conference was when the President nipped out to the loo! Thankfully, we have moved a long way from those days and recent amendments to Standing Orders has created a much more collaborative model. Yet, we are stuck with titles that still make little sense to most Methodists, let alone anyone looking in from the outside. Unlike most political or ogranisational Presidencies, the VP does not get to take over from the President, indeed is constitutionally prevented from doing s

You stupid boy!

Do you think that it's a coincidence that there have been so much focus on the Second World War in films recently? Even the Royal Mail has got in on the act with the release of a bunch of stamps featuring characters from Dad's Army! Churchill, Dunkirk, Darkest Hour all do more than teach us the history of the 20th century. They portray a Britain under threat and needing to stand together as it is forced to stand alone. As March 2019 approaches, do these reminders of a Britain separated from the continent serve as a subtle form of propaganda for the leave campaign? Art always speaks into the present .... There is something about the Dunkirk spirit that is compelling. It speaks of a 'can do' a

Family Values

A sermon preached at the Coventry Pride Service, Sunday 10 June, at Coventry Central Hall: Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’ And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’ Mark 3:31-35 Christianity and ‘family values’ are sometimes seen as synonymous. Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic often claim that their respect for the institution of fami

Suffer the little children - baptism and Irish Presbyterians

Yesterday, the General Assembly the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) voted to exclude (literally excommunicate) LGBTQi+ members and to refuse baptism to the children of same-sex couples. It comes after the decision to break relations with the Church of Scotland and the United Reformed Church in Great Britain because of their decisions to move towards inclusion of LGBTQi+ people. I began my Christian life in the PCI. Both my parents were Presbyterians and I was baptised by one of their ministers. I ended up a Methodist, first by accident, then by conviction, but have never forgotten my Reformed heritage. But I also remember growing up in the North in the late 1980s when, despite homosexua

Treasure in Clay Jars - a sermon

2 Cor 4:7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. Treasure in clay jars .... I found this cup on a bric-a-brac stall whilst serving in the Lincolnshire fens. I didn't realise, until I got there, that bric-a-brac is the Lincolnshire word for 'rubbish'! Every year, during the Flower Festival, the church where I was serving would accumulate and then sell the rubbish of the congregation. It usually raised close to a £1000! Sometimes, we have a clear out and decide that something has ceased to have use. I don’t know, maybe this cup was part of a set and the rest had been broken. But what is rubbis

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