Today I led two harvest festival services. The first was at Tewkesbury MC where we explored the theme of ‘whacky seasons’ and how climate change is affecting farming and agriculture in some of the world’s poorest countries, our retiring collection was for this years Christian Aid project in support of pea farmers in Malawi. The service was was followed by a bring and share lunch.
Our Harvest Festival at Tibberton MC this afternoon welcomed visitors from different churches across the circuit as well as friends from the Anglican church. this was followed by tea and a seeming mountain of cake….What is it with Methodists and cake!!!
Here are a selection of pictures from today.
Today we had a wonderful time at Tewkesbury MC as we welcomed lots of young people to our harvest messy church. We took the theme of Noah and the ark and after finding lots of pairs of animals and getting them safely into the ark we enjoyed many fun activities such as making rainbow stained glass windows, colouring animal masks, making rainbow cakes, building arks and making doves, which we sent out to see how far they would fly. Next we looked at all the lovely things that had been made and listened to the story of Noah and the flood. After that it was tea time with sandwiches, healthy snacks and the rainbow cakes we had made earlier. A great afternoon with lots of fun had by all and I’m really looking forward to the next one..
Well it’s been a busy week so I thought I would give the headlines of what I’ve been up to:
On Sunday I led worship at Hartpury Methodist Church. Not strictly for the first time since many years ago as a trainee local preacher I led one or two services there. We explored the theme of inclusivity and how we might address this as a church when there is so much division and exclusion in our world.
The afternoon saw many of us heading off to Dursley for our Circuit meeting followed by a lovely tea in which I was introduced to Nigellas gluten free almond and mandarin cake – finest cake ever! After we shared in a circuit service led by Rev’d Dr Jonathan Pye who also spoke on the theme of radical inclusivity….a big theme in the methodist church at the moment.
Monday was a mix of admin and visiting. At midday however I took time out to have lunch with some friends from my previous church in Basingstoke who are staying in the Cotswolds. We went to the Gardeners Arms in Alderton and I was amused to see that they also cater for your dog…
Tuesday was a day of more visiting and meetings and I was especially pleased to meet ecumenical colleagues from Tewkesbury Churches together at St Nicholas church in Ashworth where we did some future planning of joint activities.
On Wednesday I led a communion service at a residential home, continued my mission of getting to know people with yet more visits ( and therefore more wonderful hospitality) and in the evening was the guest speaker of one of our women’s groups (I hope they enjoyed the evening as much as I did).
So that brings me right up to the moment, this morning I have been catching up with emails, completing preparations for my two harvest festival services on Sunday and am right now catching up with my blog.
We have a great harvest weekend ahead with services and activities all over the weekend. I’ll post some pictures early next week.
So this week has been a whirl of services, synod, visits, church meetings and a wedding rehearsal. There have been many highlights this week (as well a low point when I broke down on the M50) but on the whole it has been a week of meeting new people and the privilege of hearing their stories and enjoying their generous hospitality.
On Sunday morning we shared in the anniversary at Apperley Methodist Church in which we explored the theme of spiritual hospitality and afterwards enjoyed a bring and share lunch. On Sunday evening at Tewkesbury we had a more contemporary approach to worship with Harmony Praise where the theme of prayer was explored. It was the first time I had heard the band play and I must say I was hugely impressed with the quality of the music which hinted at Jazz undertones and anyone who knows me will know how I love my Jazz.
This coming Sunday I am leading a service of holy communion at Hartpury Methodist church and then it is off to Dursley where we will have our circuit assembly followed by a service.
So in summary I am really enjoying my time here so far, still getting to know everyone, leading services for the first time in each of my churches and continuing to enjoy the warmth and hospitality of Methodism in this little corner of Gloucestershire.
Lord, how thy wonders are displayed, where’er I turn my eye, if I surveyed the ground I tread, or gaze upon the sky. Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
A pastoral visit to a church member yesterday took me just over the border into Herefordshire to a residential care home. After enjoying the views from her room we walked in the grounds and just marvelled at the breathtaking beauty of God’s creation. Such moments can revive the soul as we realize that we don’t have to look too far beyond the nitty gritty of our daily lives to revel in the glory of God’s creation.
I am very grateful for the gracious response of all my new churches here in Tewkesbury when I asked them to consider using gluten free bread at our communion services. Generally speaking some churches are willing to embrace this whilst others are not so sure about the change. I thought it might help if I explained why this can be so important.
After many years of chronic digestive, nerve and liver difficulties as well as tiredness and fatigue, a new GP (when I arrived at my last appointment) suggested some investigations. An endoscopy showed severe damage to my digestive tract that was typical of gluten damage, coeliac disease was reported. I had no idea what this was and though I thought it was was something to do with gluten intolerance I quickly learnt that there is a big difference between gluten intolerance and coeliac disease.
If a person is gluten intolerant they may experience very similar symptoms to coeliac disease but the internal damage to the digestive system is not present. The symptoms for gluten intolerance are a result of insensitivity to ingesting gluten. Coeliac disease however is not an insensitivity, rather it is an autoimmune disorder which causes the body to produce antibodies when there is contact with gluten. This may be from ingesting gluten or simply handling it. It is a serious illness which can be very harmful even when only a tiny crumb of gluten is ingested or handled and over time can cause very serious physical damage.
For this reason we have to be very careful about cross contamination. Coeliacs will need to toast their bread in a toaster that has never been used for bread containing gluten. They will need to ensure that kitchen utensils and other equipment are set aside for gluten free use only and will also need to ensure that if they do eat out, restaurants are au fait with the problem of cross contamination and therefore have a specific area of the kitchen set aside for gluten free preparation. I am delighted to say that the fish and chip shop in Tewkesbury have set aside fryers for gluten free customers and make the best GF batter for fish imaginable…
So when it comes to being a minister with coeliac disease then the most obvious problem is that of breaking bread. We simply can’t do it!!! Just breaking and distributing normal bread can be very harmful for us and for those coeliacs receiving even a gluten free piece of bread if I hand it to them after breaking normal bread. The cross contamination is a vital understanding.
I was diagnosed early on in my last appointment and as soon as I let my congregations know they were instantly happy to switch to GF bread for everyone. Indeed a surprising number of people expressed relief as they too had had a diagnosis of either coeliac disease or gluten intolerance and had previously either stayed away when it was communion or suffered the consequences. This caused me to realise how insensitive I had been as a minister to people’s needs until I myself had been diagnosed and very quickly had to change my own diet and lifestyle.
Gluten free bread and rolls are available in every supermarket in the ‘Free From’ aisle. If you are thinking of going gluten free in your church, I would recommend that rather than trying to have a gluten free option at communion you choose to go completely gluten free, this will keep all those with gluten sensitivities, wheat allergies and coeliac disease free from the danger of cross contamination and anyway it is somewhat a more inclusive approach. If anyone would like to know more about this please don’t hesitate to make contact.
Yesterday (Sunday 3rd September 2017) was my first Sunday in the Gloucestershire circuit…and what a day indeed. It began with my being interviewed on radio Gloucestershire on the Richard Atkins Show as a sort of welcome interview. I have never done anything like this before so it was interesting for me to see how radio studios work. I confess to being a bit nervous but since Richard is himself a Methodist Minister he understood the role well and was a really great interviewer.
From there I headed off to Tewkesbury Methodist Church to lead my first service there. This was such a blessed time, I received a wonderful welcome and such warm hospitality, I felt like part of the family immediately. I was a little bit challenging in my sermon ( but then it wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t) but the congregation seemed open and receptive and really keen to embrace a new chapter in their journey… I feel very blessed indeed to be here and am looking forward to getting down to work and to meeting with my ecumenical colleagues very soon.
In the evening was our official welcome service at St John’s Gloucester for all those joining the circuit staff. There were 5 of us altogether Ms Abbey Seeliger, Ms Rachel Simpson, and the Reverend’s John Klime, Michelle Ireland and myself. Reverend Dr James Tebbut led the service and Reverend Dr Jonathan Pye preached. It was so good and humbling that so many people turned out to welcome us, I reconnected with many former colleagues and met many new ones and the icing on the cake was the surprise attendance of members of my former congregation at Trinity Basingstoke. How kind of them to travel such a distance for me…Members of my former section in the Reading and Basingstoke Circuit will forever be in my heart.
Unfortunately the day was so busy that I did not pay attention to taking decent pictures but these will give you the gist.
Tewkesbury Methodist Church
Studio at BBC Gloucestershire
Order of Service
So this is my first day as a minister in the Gloucester circuit. First days are always interesting, just how do we spend our time! Well I made some calls, familiarised myself with minutes of up and coming meetings, answered emails and made some appointments to meet church officers. After lunch I visited a member in hospital before squeezing in a half hour Oboe lesson at tea time. This evening I prepared my service for Sunday, a few more calls and have now just sat down to write this blog post.
There is a busy weekend ahead with a circuit staff welcome involving tea and cake on Saturday afternoon where I will get to connect with lay and ordained members of the circuit. On Sunday morning I am doing a welcome conversation on Radio Gloucester at 7.30 am, then leading worship at Tewkesbury at 10.30. and on Sunday evening there is the welcome service at St John’s at 6.30….
So all in all a lively start to ministry here in Gloucester but I generally find that as long as cake is on the menu somewhere along the way then all is generally well.