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Agonising

It is nearly 20 years since I entered Circuit (or started travelling, as they used to call it!). Yet this is the first time I have been through the official invitation process of stationing. As a probationer, I was directly stationed and then, two years later, I was phoned by the Stationing Committee and asked to move (three years early). I obeyed and duly relocated. Sadly, it turned out not to be the appointment I had hoped for and, after a very nasty period of homophobic allegations and prying into my personal life, I curtailed and sought an appointment outside the stations. For the next thirteen years, every position I got was through the standard employment practices of application and i

Risky Business?

‘Risk’ is a word on the lips of many of our Methodist leaders at the minute. They call us to take more risks which usually means releasing more of the money locked away at local church level. However, what they rarely address is why we have become so risk-averse. Church leaders cannot expect local members and ministers to take risks, if everything else that is said or done creates a culture of hostility to risk-takers. At best, there are mixed messages emerging from those who want change but cannot see how to bring it about. Risk is also big in management and business circles. From the success of Apple and Google, to the Credit & Banking Crisis of 2008, risk is big news. Part of the work I a

Bear in mind

It’s easy to think that theology is something we do in our spare time, with a glass of wine in our hand perhaps. It has become something abstract, with concepts that can be taken apart and put back together without anyone getting hurt. Each time I visit Sri Lanka, I am confronted with the need for a theology that works on the ground and is real. This visit was no different, travelling to areas where the civil war was fought out between the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) and government forces and meeting those who had been displaced or whose farms had been effected. Most moving of all was time spent with those mothers and fathers who had lost children during the conflict, mainly through organised ‘disap

Permission to Wound

‘Ordination gives the church a permanent permission to wound.’ I’ve been contemplating these provocative words since they were given to me recently and they remain deeply challenging. They arose in a conversation about the capacity to be hurt, disappointed, attacked and wounded by the institutional Church and about the relationship between the Church and the ordained person. I had the unbelievable privilege last summer of preaching at an ordination service. Given that I still remember Brian Beck's sermon from my own ordination service nearly twenty years ago, I knew it had to be special. In the end, it wasn’t my sermon that really struck me in that service: it was that the vows taken by the

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