Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Where do I fit in?

Said in frustration with a slight rhythm  Oh oh oh oh oh

Back to normal Since going to 3Generate (Methodist Youth Assembly) a couple of weeks ago there has been something that has come up time and time again, in completely unrelated places and situations. Perhaps it isn't so odd considering the theme of 3Generate. Calling. Response. Promise.

But, I'm frustrated. Annoyed even. At the weekend I acknowledge that call that God has placed on my life. Or shall I say the call I believe God has placed on my life. Yet He still keeps bringing it up! I'm reading a blog, and then I discover that underneath it all it is about predestination, and where we are going. I turn up to youth group on Sunday and we talk about where God guides us and how. I end up talking about the calling I am living now. We watch Even Almighty, its based around the story of Noah. It shows how God does use us, and how His plans are mightier than ours. How we cannot work against God.

There is a great line in the film, where Even (think Noah) is talking to Morgan Freeman who plays God (very well if you ask me) and Even says "But what about my plans?!" And God just laughs "Your plans??"

And this is my frustration. I have given up on some plans to try and follow this calling. I mean, university! I might not have done very well there, but think of the fun I could have had, a bit more care free living (sorry if this is not actually how uni is!) I wanted to be a doctor! Then I realised I was no good at chemistry, I wanted to work out in the fields. Instead right now I am working in a shop, selling stuff for people who go (or pretend to) and play and work in the fields. You've called me, and I've said yes. But I'm not there yet.

There are other things that I've planned that I cannot give up. I'm prepared to postpone them somewhat, but not completely. Maybe this is what is stopping things. That I'm not giving everything to You? But you know me better than anyone else, and you know that I cannot do this alone. And I'm worried if I start this alone, I won't ever find someone to walk next to me physically as we walk spiritually side by side.

I wholeheartedly believe that you have put 2 calls on my life. One for you, and another to family life. So I'm frustrated that I'm only feeling the emphasis on one of those. And even then that seems to be moving slowly. That might have something to do with the fact I'm writing this, and not an essay.

Am I being too selfish? Probably. Am I looking at the bigger picture? Probably not. But when I feel called into ministry, why do I have to do so much jumping through hoops?! Again, this is very short-sighted of me. But that is where my frustration lies. That I will end up exercising and practising one call, and not the other.

I do not want to end up with no one to share my journey with. I don't want to come home to an empty house. I want it to be filled with laughter and joy. I know that is what you want to. So my question is when?

You've given me a massive push this last couple of weeks. Please help me a little more. Give me time to find out what to do next. Give me the time and wisdom to write these essays. Because I honestly don't know what the next step is.

So take me as You find me,
All my fears and failures,
Fill my life again.
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in,
Now I surrender.

That is some of my frustration. I fear being alone. Help?

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Where do we fit in?

Recently I have been so amazed by the impact that young people have had. Particularly young Christians. I had the privilege to take part in 3Generate (Methodist Children and Youth Assembly) which just demonstrated how passionate and enthusiastic young people are to change the world we live in. Then following on from that we saw the Twitter Remembrance service, born and nurtured into a full service in under 24hours!

I was very disappointed to then find that there was no coverage of MYA in the Methodist Recorder following the weekend. I appreciate that there was a lot of hard work by a lot of people, but would it have been difficult for the MR to send a journalist?

It did make me wonder where young people sit in our priorities. This is not intended to be a dig at anyone. I should make that clear.

Methodist Recorder managed to send someone to report from the World Methodist Council and Conference in Durban, but couldn't get anyone to report from Kidderminster the Youth Assembly. A project that Conference have ploughed so much money into.

And that is so encouraging. The fact that Conference is prepared to take so much risk in young people, and provide such a powerful and supportive weekend for us. It is quite clearly high on their priorities, and I have witnessed this through my involvement in Conference and Council. But is this reflected in our churches, and communities?

There is so much bad press around young people today, but actually I don't believe they are the problem. They have no role models. Their parent's are part of the problem. We have let society slip, we aren't their challenging people's language, and action. People do not realise when they offend a white person. Or a Christian. Yet as soon as another faith or race is offended, we do all we can to resolve the situation.

Do we as Christians still have a voice in our communities? Do we look to the future, do we take risks. Or do we just let other people take the risks, and ignore what we can do? Should we have a louder voice, tell people how we feel? Should we scream when we don't like things? Or should we keep everything as it is?

Where do we fit in?

In my involvement in Youth Assembly, and other Connexional Meetings I have been so convinced the Methodist Church is up to something. Combined with phrases such as 'Revival Generation' and the feeling of the spirit moving amongst young people, I can't help but wonder. When we will challenge people?

Where do we fit into our world today?

Edit - I am aware that a report will feature in the Recorder on 17/11/11

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Calling. Response. Promise

Last year at Methodist Youth Assembly we had these great coloured perspex hanging signs (I'm sure they have a proper name!) that encouraged us to Think. Talk. (and) Be. This year we had them again, and it proved a wonderful focal point for me. But we developed the theme further. We thought about Calling. Response. (and God's) Promise.

I missed the Friday evening due to travelling, and the chaos that that was! But if they do hold these things North of London! Anyway, that means I missed the focus around Calling. But I don't think that mattered.

I arrived at Kidderminster (an hour late) to find a very relieved Grace and some people from London as they were waiting in a taxi for me to go to the centre where we were staying. It was great to catch up with Grace, through snatched conversation over a seat (I was in the front, she was behind me).

When we arrived at the Pioneer Centre, it was time to catch up with people, but also collect our collective thoughts on the workshop Grace and I were going to lead on Saturday. Luckily I work best to a deadline last minute, so I could work through the worries that Grace had, and we had a great plan. Just needed to put it into action!

Hopefully that is the 'diary' bit done, and now some thoughts.

Saturday was all about response. We had a great time of informal and reflective worship after breakfast. This really rooted everything we did in worship and prayer, something I was very glad of at Conference and it really pleased me to see Youth Assembly fully committed to doing everything in and through Christ.

This year, the age group for 3Generate (Methodist Children and Youth Assembly) was expanded, and then divided into 3 streams, 9-13 14-17 and 18+ (up to 23). There was some apprehension from people beforehand, but this worked really well! It was great as an 18+ to have the independence, and choice. Not just to engage with issues in workshops, but to be able to have led bible study. This was a really useful time for me. And led in such a great way!

We of course spent time as our response looking at ways we could change and challenge the church and the world we live in. It was really interesting and encouraging seeing lots of the stream engaging with these workshops, and looking at ways we can make a difference. Because we can, and it was great that this was accepted by all.

I loved the whole weekend. It really was great. There were however, some stand out moments for me. One of these was the late night worship on Saturday. This was based around a traditional Methodist thing - a Lovefeast. This started with a few worship songs, led by Jon Green (@oschaplaincy) and part way through everyone in the room had got themselves into a circle. Incredible. The Vice-President of Conference (Ruth Pickles) gave us an amazing testimony from 8 years of her life where she really struggled. It was so humbling to hear these words, spoken with such strength and love, without anger. Incredible. We then moved into the Lovefeast proper. I helped to facilitate a group and it was so great to help young people share their story together.

Sunday morning worship has got to be the moment of the weekend. We shared in communion, and then Jo Cox (@revjoannecox) spoke with passion and engaged with us all (Well certainly me) The idea was to focus on what happens when we respond to our call. The promise of God. Jo managed to recap the whole weekend, calling, reponse and then elaborate on promise.

Jo invited us to respond to the weekend, by selecting things from a bowl at the front. I was humbled when one of the young people in the group I talked with the night before came up to me and asked me to tie a thread (one of the responses) around her wrist. She thanked me for what I had done to. I didn't feel like I had done anything, other than say don't be afraid to explore! I was so humbled. This really was a great moment.

The great thing about events like this is coming together with old friends, getting to know people better. It was great to catch up with friends, and make new ones in the presence of God. And God really was present. The whole weekend was the encouragement I needed. Worship on Sunday was AMAZING! No exaggeration there.

Apologies if this is muddled, and doesn't really make sense, but I still haven't properly reflected on the weekend enough! All I can say is something is happening. And it will be young people who are the change makers.

We Thought. We Talked. Now we are Being. We are Called. We will Respond. And we will receive God's Promise

3Generate was worth all the travel problems!

Friday, 28 October 2011

"Its not about you, its me." And me

So yesterday @ems_tweets blogged about being inspirationally challenged, and decided to share more about herself. It is a great read, please do take a look at it here http://lifeisaboutlearningtodanceintherain.blogspot.com/ Especially if you know Emma. At the end, Emma asks "What are you about" and so this is my response to that.

So I'll start when Emma started.

I'm about sleeping. I can go to bed early, and getting up late. I'm about not getting out of bed in the morning till the very last minute. I'm about all sorts of weather, but Autumn and Winter are great, because I loved the clothing I've got to keep me warm and dry.

I'm about pubs not clubs. That is when I do go out, I'm not about lots of socialising. I'm rubbish at keeping in touch with people. But love it when I do see friends. I'm about listening to people and putting them first. I'm about helping out where I can and not knowing when to say no. I'm about practical action combined with sustainability. Don't give a man a fish, teach him to fish.

I'm about doing things properly, diving head first in  and getting completely involved in things. I'm about not being able to say no. I'm about being passionate. I'm about working to a deadline, not before one. I'm not really about being clever, or academic.

I'm about hiding my feelings. I'm about putting on a brave face. I'm about not exposing my feelings. I wish I was about sharing my feelings, and not thinking it made me weak. I'm about people thinking I'm weird because I don't cry. I'm about sabotaging my heart. I'm about being loved. I'm about fearing rejection and feeling lonely.

I'm about over thinking any important or emotional aspect of my life.

I wish I was more about complete trust in God. I wish I was more about challenging the status quo of church. I am about getting more young people engaging with what they do. I'm about wanting the Church, and society to engage with real issues today, and seek new ways of working.

I am about a bit of tradition. But I'm also about mixing it up a little. I'm not about leaving my morals to one side.

I'm all about Africa and the friends I have who give so much more than they have. Both in the UK and Africa. I'm about trying to help people realise how other people live.

I'm about being honest to yourself. I wish I was about being honest to myself.

I'm not about being patient when it comes to life plans. I wish I was more about knowing God has it in hand.

I'm about being healthy. But I'm also about eating lots. I'm about walking, climbing, cycling. I'm about not having enough time for everything. I'm about living far away from the best climbing and walking. I'm currently about filling a gap until the next door is opened.

I really am about being who I am, and not about letting things change me. I am about being complex and not understanding myself. Let alone anyone else!

Monday, 15 August 2011


I think we dream most as children. We have our whole lives ahead of us, and we are full of aspiration for it. But I've found, as more of life is revealed to me, I dream less. As I start to have to sort practical things out, as I start worrying about money, and growing up (I've finally realised I need to do that) I dream less.

When I was growing up (physically that is!) I wanted to be a vet. My family knew a couple of vets, and I liked animals. But as I started to think about this career choice I realised that vets couldn't talk to their patients. Unless they were Doctor Dolittle! So my passion for helping transfigured itself into wanting to become a doctor. After all, you would be able to talk, and work out what was wrong in a way other than poking!

This was my dream for some time. In fact all the way through school, and into college. Until that is, I realised how much hard work I would have to put in just to get to med school. Its fair to say Chemistry wasn't my strong point. So when it came to dooms day, and my chemistry result left a lot to be desired, it was back to the drawing board.

Oddly, I wasn't distraught by this. I was happy to dream again. Though I'm not sure I properly dreamed for a while after that. But how do we know when we are dreaming?

 My dream now. To serve God. Wherever that may be. I'm wondering about going abroad. Is that me dreaming, or God dreaming? Only time will tell.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

What if...

The million pound question

Its an odd question too, as it can refer to the past or the future. And I'm starting to ask it a lot of my life. What if I did go to university. What if we hadn't met. Or what if I didn't have very persuasive friends?

What if I do discern my call properly? What if I do move to a foreign country? What if what I think is right really isn't?

Massive questions I will never find an answer too. Unless I actually do some of the future questions. But then I wonder if I should be asking these questions at all. If I stop living my life by my agenda, and hand it over to God.

Answer, probably not. But we are human, and I do struggle with handing things to God sometimes. I think this is because I expect instant results from God. It is OK for me to leave things to the last minute, but I expect God to be much better organised as me, so get frustrated when things don't happen. Though I guess that is my agenda creeping back in.

I find it so easy to get caught up in my life, and my prayer for me and my friends is that we are able to let go. To lift things up to God, that we don't have to worry about. But have the patience that God knows the time to give it back to us.

There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under the heavens: Ecclesiastes 3:1

Monday, 8 August 2011

Where should we be headed?

These thoughts come from discussions with a number of people, reflecting on the work of the Council and Conference.

It is not a hidden fact the Methodist Church, world wide (Though Africa and Southern America do buck the trend), isn't doing too well number wise. And when you look at some of the structures and meetings it probably does say something. The Methodist Church was born from the Methodist Movement, and in some people's eyes we are now a 'Methodist Station'.

Sometimes as more conservative Christians we do not get out there enough. Having already given my concerns over people who seem to do this, I shall now contradict myself by saying lets get out there! Let us listen to the spirit, and not be afraid to listen to God, and spend time praying about situations.

Jesus ministered to the people who the society in that day did not want to acknowledge. Do we do this now? Are we comfortable to get into our societies, and in the words of the British General Secretary, do we get our fingernails dirty?

If we are not getting the dirt under our finger nails, then maybe we should be. We should work with the spirit, not against it.

(This might not be factual, and these are my own views. Thanks :)  )

Sunday, 7 August 2011

In summary?

I'm sure this won't be the last blog regarding World Methodist Council and Conference. However, I do have a fews days to reflect on, due to the previous mention of electricity conversion issues. So I shall try and reflect on my whole experience.

It was with some trepidation I came to South Africa. There were events at home which I really wanted to be a part of, and I have missed the fellowship of very good friends back at home. It is very odd wondering through an airport, waiting for a flight, on your own. Of course when we travel, we are never alone, but without human company makes a lot of difference. I find it interesting how themes keep popping up! Though through discussion it is clear God is working.

However, it has been wonderful to be here, to work with other delegates to try and find a new way of working for the Council. I know that the meetings have been very long, and boring and tedious at points (my views entirely) But the fellowship and encouragement and support of the youth and young adults has been incredible. The fellowship of the whole conference has made the whole experience.

I have become much more aware of issues within the global church, and therefore issues we could find in anyone of our congregations. South Africa, and the city of Durban has been a lovely backdrop to the conference and fellowship. I have been glad of the times we have just been able to do our own thing. The little experiences outside of 'formal' sessions have been the real deal for me. Maybe that shouldn't be true, but I think that the whole point of the Council should be to facilitate the workings of the Conference. And the Conference should be the networking of the people called Methodist all around the world. But that is my view!

I would like to highlight two events that have been really wonderful moments. The first of which was the Beach Party on Saturday night. This was like going clubbing, but sand between your feet, with a South African feel and a truly multi cultural dance evening! It was great, to have people of all ages, and every other diversity you could wish for. All dancing together, with no inhibition.

The second was the Street rally that happened on Sunday. This was again, such a great multi cultural diverse crowd, singing and dancing, or just walking through the streets of Durban. Once again there were no inhibitions, we were proud to show our faith. Something we sometimes don't do back home.

Anyway, it is late now so I'll leave it there. More to follow I'm sure, and photos too!

Mission or evangelism?

[EDIT - This blog reflects the first day of the World Methodist Conference, Thursday 4th August. Due to electrical conversion issues I didn't get a chance to finish the blog that night. So if it changes character part way through, that is why, and I apologise]

I may not have been incredibly taken by some of the content of the Council meetings the past few days, but the World Methodist Conference started today and seems to be bringing an improvement. There was not much of note for a large part of today, and I did find my self pondering if I would have any material for a blog today. This may have in part been due to the fact I opted not to go to a specific seminar in the afternoon. I spent my time in fellowship with friends from Ireland, and later on other corners of the globe.

I once again had a wonderful time in fellowship with young people over lunch. I really do feel that God is working through these people and that soon the Methodist Church will have some great leaders, and will then realise the potential it has been sitting on.

However, the session that has given me most of my material for this (still hopeful) blog was an optional session this evening. Last year the Methodist Church in Britain carried out the All Partners Consultation, in which it got together with Methodist Churches from around the world and asked how we can better work together. Around the same time, the United Methodist Church in the USA did a similar consultation. The session was based around conversations on where to go next. The main question I chose to look at during the session was "In what ways can we partner for mission to make a difference in the World?"

The small group I was discussing this with gave me plenty to think about. There was one American guy, who was what I would call a stereotypical American evangelist. And he told us he was passionate about evangelism, to the extent he had given out over 500 copies of the New Testament and was working towards 600. Great, I thought. It's not the way I would do it, but everyone has their own style. But the more I reflected on this, the more I pondered is this enough? Not in numerical value, but is it enough to give out only the new testament? I believe the study of history is really important when you are looking where to go. 
Now I guess I should confess, that I'm not always a fan of these 'out there' evangelists, so I may be presenting a very biased view!

Another question we batted around, and unfortunately had to try and explain to this American gentleman, was what constituted mission, and evangelism. We acknowledged that the two went hand in hand together, but they were very different. The conversation turned to the distribution of water, and if we are doing that, we might as well do it in Jesus Christ's name (new testament stuff again?) I asked the question of why we were giving that cup of water. If we are giving it because the recipients are in need of it, that is mission. And why not say I'm giving you this because I know Jesus' love and compassion. But, if we give that water so we can give it in Jesus' name, that is evangelism.

It was then acknowledged in wider discussion the importance of reaching out to young people. One idea of how to better the work, was to look into virtual communities. To create a new class meeting that connected similar people world over. I have met so many great people, and to have the internet to keep in contact will be so very useful. I do admit that technology and social media is not limited to young people, it is very much part of their lives. The internet can bring us much closer, the world is a lot smaller with it. Is it time we came together as one world wide connexion? Though after the amount of discussion over bylaws and constitutions over the past week, this may not be a good idea.

It would however, be an interesting exercise, which I think might bring about a lot of healing. 

It is also interesting to note the importance of the British Methodist Church still. One response from the All Partners Consultation was that the British Methodist Church needed to refresh it's spirituality, and prayer and that maybe one of the ways we could do this is through fasting. Now there, I think, is a challenge. But this could be a whole other blog.

I would like to finish with something I have heard before, but was mentioned in the small discussion group. "For God so loved the World, He didn't send a committee!" To which I thought, "But we are Methodists!"

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Further reflections - Day 2 and 3 of World Council

Well, what a couple of days! Yesterday (day 2) was a long day, business started at half past 8 in the morning and finished just after half 9 in the evening! We did have a couple of tea breaks, and stop for lunch and dinner too, but very long heavy day discussing the new constitution. After which a number of people felt the need to unwind, so I had some informative discussions in the bar. This hopefully explains why this blog is for yesterday and today, I was far too tired yesterday!

As I said in a previous blog, I do wish this to be personal reflections of my experience, rather than an account of what happened. However, I will try and keep some sort of account for you. As such, much of the Council's time has been taken up by the Constitution changes. I am helpfully told that this new constitution will improve the working of the Council, so it is important work. Unfortunately the handling of it does has not reflected well on the staff of the WMC and has highlighted for me some of the short comings of the Council. It has also demonstrated to me how diverse we are.

The Council meets under the name of Methodism (Or the Wesleyan tradition) but we should all hold similar core beliefs, having come from the same man, or movement. It is abundantly clear to me how different we are, even though we should have very similar beliefs, doctrines and theology. Similarly, the Council and the debates over the constitution have highlighted how different words have different meanings and connotations to different cultures. Taking this into consideration, it is now easier to see how international conflicts can develop out of something seeming so small, or how we get tension between different cultures living in the same areas.

But it is not just words or beliefs that can cause problems. History plays a big part in the feelings of some members of Council. It is interesting to see how people feel about issues that we think have been sorted out. I am sure many people will know of the oppression of Black people throughout the whole world. Perhaps the most well known countries for this were the USA and South Africa. There is still a lot of healing that needs to be done over race as there are still bitter feelings. I believe quite rightly so. I am not quite so sure that some members have expressed this correctly, but that is my own view. I am not sure that we can operate effectively as a Council until we can all appreciate and help with these issues.

I find it interesting being in South Africa, and I have already made comment in an earlier posting about the poverty levels. However, having experienced a bit more, it is clear there are still some sort of class issues. I have not seen one white person in a 'working class' job, I have not seen one person begging, or in some state of poverty. I am sure there probably are, but I would guess they are rare cases. There is still a bad attitude from some Whites. It was interesting to walk along the promenade on Sunday evening, and see a multi cultural city, but with limited interaction between races. It felt relaxed, and it is only upon reflection and speaking with others that I can see still lots of progress to be made.

It is clear from some members of council that this is not something that in limited to South Africa, but something that members from the USA often feel too.

One question I have found myself asking these past few days has been What am I doing here? I am part of an unusual Council where the constitution is proposed to change, but because this has taken large amounts of debate time, there has been less time to hear and engage with the work of God through the WMC. For instance, today should have included reports from all the Standing Committees (basically sub committees who look at the work of the Council in specific areas), but due to the constitution debates, these got shrunk. We did hear from the, but in considerably less time.

It is my view that this wasn't necessarily bad, but we did seem to loose a lot of the God focus we should have had. However, the Youth and Young Adults Committee (looking after those under 35) was a fantastic report. It told the Council what it had done, and included a video from the International Young Leaders Seminar the few days preceding the Council, which looked fantastic! The report also told the Council what the young people wanted, and would, do. (Details to follow)

On the other hand, I was ashamed to be a Methodist Man today. The World Fellowship of Methodist and Uniting Church Men presented a their report, which focused on a Stop the Hunger campaign. There is nothing wrong with this at all. It was all in the presentation, and the fact the Women's counterpart has been looking at this and more for over 5 years! The President of the WFMUCM is American, and unfortunately presented this in a very American macho way, including reference to flying a fight jet, and World War. Whereas I do agree famine is awful, and should have as many resources thrown at it as if it "were a World War that we have to win". I am uncomfortable with such militant language. The suggestion is however, to fast 1 meal a week, and to use that time to pray to God about those less fortunate, and give the money you would have spent on that meal so that someone else may eat that day. Great idea, poorly presented, did not feel proud of WFMUCM.

But I will come back to the youth. We had a great meeting of all young people affiliated with the Council who are in Durban. There were around 35-40 young adults in the evening session, where we enjoyed a few games to get to know each other, a time of planning the Youth and Young Adults report to the World Conference (which involved singing) and sharing food and conversation together.

I am looking forward very much to the Conference which stars tomorrow, and hearing of God's work both throughout the world, and locally back home. I leave you with the bible passage the  Youth and Young Adults have based their work of the last 5 years around

"Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity."

Blessings from Durban xx

Monday, 1 August 2011

Day 1 - World Methodist Council

I'm in a bit of a limbo here, I don't want to use this blog as a purely factual I did this today, and then I did this, and then we did that. I would like to use it to reflect some of my thoughts on the day (or days). Though I also realise that many people reading this (many is used very loosely here!) are reading to learn what the Methodist World Council is, and what we have done (Hi Mum!) So I'll attempt to get the best of both worlds.

I'm also in the situation of being in beautiful sunny South Africa, right by the coast (I'll try and get a picture of the view from my room) but not actually on holiday. I've already said to someone back home when asked why I was on Facebook, that it's because I am not on holiday! It is also because being winter in Africa it gets dark at about 5, and its not a particularly good idea to be wondering around in the dark. And also because I do miss people from home, and Facebook is a good way of catching up with what's going on.

So today has been great. I've met people from quite literally all over the world, and it is great to hear of the work going on in so many different countries. For instance, we accepted into full membership of the World Methodist Council 3 countries, The Gambia, Nepal and Tanzania. It was great to hear of the growth these churches are experiencing. This was reflected in the Chairman's address. Where he (John Barrat) said the membership of the WMC should reflect what is going on in terms of membership around the world. So the South should be much more represented, and there should be better youth representation too.

I do agree with these things, particularly when you hear of the experiences some churches are having. For instance, at the church the Council are meeting in, The Central Durban Mission, 90% of its congregation are young people. Now this may be something to do with its city location. But the minister of this church, in welcoming us today, told us that when young people come to the city (for education or work) they make many homes. And one of those homes is that church. How great! I cannot remember when I had the conversation, but I have had a conversation recently in which we discussed how unwelcoming some of our churches can be.

One of the main topics of debate for the few days the Council meets are the proposed changes to the Council's constitution and byelaws. This will take up quite some time in the agenda, but it is right and proper that this gets time, so the Council can work effectively. It was also useful today to have an orientation session, to explain what Council is, and how it works. And have the rules of debate set out too!

There was a bit of confusion over when people would be registering for the Council and Conference, and as such we did queue for a little bit. But this was an ideal opportunity to meet people. I have spent a lot of time with Jemima, the other British Youth Rep, which has been wonderful as she (along with Christy-Anna, British Youth President) went to the Young Leaders Seminar before coming to the Council meeting, so know a few people already. So along with Jemima I spent today with Pamela from Ireland. I also met Rohan, a pastor with the United Methodist Church Australia, who had lunch with Pamela, Jemima and me. Lunch had some great conversations of getting to know each other, hearing of Jemima's stories from travelling around South Africa before the Council and some other interesting topics which escape me! Tea break also enabled me to talk and meet people from all over, too many places to name! Maybe one blog will just be countries that I've met people from.

Certainly featuring on that list would be the USA. There is a massive American presence. This is from both on the floor of Council, and some of its staff too. A number of the Americans who have spoken, including the General Secretary have had that wonderful American twang. Which has been lovely to listen to.

As ever worship does play a key part in the session. We opened with some lively worship, with songs appropriately reflecting the global nature of the gathering. The bible passage was from Matthew 5, and the key verse that jumped out for me was
"You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven."
There was no teaching on this, but I am rather glad of that as it allowed me time to reflect on why that jumped out at me, when I have heard it so many times before. I am still reflecting on that!

The intercessory prayers also allowed me time to remember friends at home, many of whom are taking part in a Scripture Union Mission week, of which I am disappointed to miss. But my prayers are with all my friends, and the work that is happening back at home. This is why I have been on Facebook, to catch up with life slightly as I have found myself missing some of that contact.

So, another day lies ahead. I somehow agreed with Jemima to go swimming in the hotel pool at half 6 tomorrow, so I'll sign off for the night. God bless

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Departures and Arrivals

I love airports. They are full of expectation, excitement and anticipation. Ordinarily this is shared with the group of people that I'm flying with, so it was a new experience to check in on my own, and find my own way through the airport. It wasn't long till I found some other British Methodists heading to South Africa though.

Yesterday and today were really just about getting to Durban. I love the final approach to an airport, when you can glance out of the window and get the first glimpses of where you are headed. I think you can learn a lot from what you see then, I'm not always sure what you learn. But I think you learn a lot.

It is already clear that the South African World Cup has had a positive affect on the infrastructure of the area. It is difficult to say how much was done for the World Cup, or was being done anyway. Certainly the beach front looks great! (I've been for a walk along it) It is also clear that we are staying in the tourist area. An area that is sheltered from the poverty I am sure you could easily find in Durban. Having said that, within 10 minutes of being on the beach we were approached by a young man, possibly a teenager asking for money for food. We had to politely turn him away as we had no money.

This is in stark contrast to my experience of Mombasa, Kenya. Here, there is no escaping the poverty. Orphans begging stand on every street corner, and outside the hotels. Whether it is because it is not as prominent in South Africa I do not know.

Anyway, still pretty tired after flight and got a busy day tomorrow, so I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Getting ready for South Africa

I love airports. I've not had much exposure to them, but the sense of excitement of where everyone is going is great. The start of a journey. So it is with great anticipation that I look forward to Saturday evening when I shall enter London Heathrow to jet off to the World Methodist Council and Conference, in Durban, South Africa!

But as many of you know, getting ready is the last thing I do when I go away! So I haven't packed, I haven't got my money yet (I did try and order it today!) I still have a fair amount to do. But I think I am ready. Maybe.

But what I shall try and do is document my experiences here, and via twitter. This is going to be a great week and a half, representing young British Methodists to the World of Methodism.

Till SA,

Friday, 8 July 2011


Well, it's been a while since I last recorded my thoughts. Or even first recorded my thoughts! But I have spent the last week in Southport at The Methodist Conference, so I thought I would use that to start me off again. I shall try to make this a reflection rather than a narrative of what happened! To find out what happened visit http://www.methodistconference.org.uk/ where you can also watch sessions back online.

First off, I think it is worthwhile saying this year there were more young people at conference than in recent years. It might even have been the most at conference as representatives! This gave me great encouragement, and gives me great hope. It was wonderful to be able to spend so much time in fellowship with other young people, as well as engaging with those not so young! Conference really affirmed my Methodist values of Connexionalism and the fellowship you get from it.

It was wonderful that the President and Vice President put such a heavy focus on worship and prayer throughout the business of Conference. We were encouraged to talk to and then pray for people around us at the end of each day. Delegates were also given a 'twin'. These were randomly selected pairings, who we were encouraged to pray for throughout Conference, and meet up with them if possible. This quite clearly added to the feeling of the Holy Spirit being present in our conferring all week.

Conference has got to be heavily business focussed, 900 pages of agenda sees to that nicely! But it is great that there is so much discernment happening at Conference too. It is great to see so many different people rising to speak. Some people do this more than others, whilst others leave a bigger impression than others. I don't think anyone will forget the passion that Mavis(??) spoke with to one of the Youth Assembly resolutions. I know I won't, having to respond about the resolution after she had spoken!

I have been inspired and encouraged by Conference 2011. The General Secretaries report was most certainly the best report I have read from the Methodist Church in a long while. Calling for vision, and risk taking! Concepts widely welcomed by members of Conference, though we are still cautious in some areas.

And no reflection on Conference 2011 could ignore the presence of social media. This was the 2nd time that Conference was streamed online, with some great results (http://www.digital-mission.net/archives/659). It is great that more and more people from across the Connexion can become connected with Conference. Through the internet we were also reaching out to those who are not Methodist, and showing them what we stand for. Particularly on topics such as Big Society, and Poverty and Inequality. It has also been a great catalyst to connect Methodists, and non-Methodists who share similar views, to start working together. There has already been a new hash tag created, only 24 hours after Conference adjourned.

Conference has been encouraging and affirming, a chance to come together with other like minded people (in Southport and across the Connexion) And to start conversations about how to move forward. Thanks to everyone involved!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Its been a while!

So this blogging thing seemed to be a good idea, until I remembered this week I hadn't posted since my first because I'd been so busy! And this week was less busy. But I was reminded tonight of a passion I had for writing, so I thought I'd share with people something I wrote a number of years ago. Next time I post I'll put some reflections of life up. I just need to find time to reflect!


“We are a wasteful nation” a dry suited politician tries to interest me before I hit the red button. The soft, rubbery button on my remote, which enables me to send the boring, old, elected by a minority member of parliament, into darkness. A silent nothing. My newly black screen stares quizzically at back at me, as I mumble “tell me about it” to myself walking out of the blank room, checking my battered phone to make sure that no one loves me. With the inevitable conclusion that no one does, I settle down to browse the enormous internet for my love.

Its strange how you always visit the same sites, maybe its because your sure to find someone to love on those sites, or maybe its because your sure that if you visit somewhere else, somewhere with no one you know, you’ll be kicked out as soon as you start to enjoy it. With the inevitable conclusion drawn again from a different source, I’m left to face the facts; No one loves me. A horrible, yet familiar darkness falls over me, the sun hides behind clouds, and the rain starts to fall. Ironic how it always rains on sad days isn’t it? As if the weather mourns with you.
But then, the sun weirdly peeps out over the top of the fluffy cloud it is sleeping in, as if playing ‘Peepo’ with a baby! A sliver of light shines through the darkness. Enough to blind me, but not enough to scare away the darkness. A flashing light alerts me to the new message I have received, a message filled with love, but not the right type of love. I recently found this, the world is full of love, you need many variations of love to survive, like variations on food, but there is a main type that keeps you going. That main love is the bread and water of life.
But sometimes you change which type of bread you eat, one day it might be ‘Mighty White’, but then you can’t buy that any more, so you eat ‘Hovis’. The same with water, Southerners have hard water, Northerners have soft, and some even take it straight off the moors. So one day you’ll drink hard, clear water, other days you might drink soft rusty brown water. Both are the same, but different. In your early years you might depend on the love of your family, later on your friends, and the possibly you might progress onto the really grown up love, where you take the love, and give your love to just one person. All are the same, but different.
Do we know when we change which we depend on? We can see the difference in our bread, we can see the difference in our water, so can we see the difference in our love. Sometimes we can, if we ate bread that was given to us, would we be able to tell if it was different from the bread we buy ourselves? Maybe there is a slightly different taste, or a different colour, the same happens with love. Love is a bright light which guides us and shows us the pathway of life. Brighter than any other light that maybe shining, trying to take us off the easy path. When that light goes, when we let it go, our life is dark, we don’t know where we go, we stumble around, arms out stretched taking tiny steps; not big bounding leaps we used to take.
That darkness, or dimness if we stray off the highway, can be brightened by others on that path, or around it. And our world becomes that bright, rainbow coloured world again. The disco continues, sometimes we might even get a new, private disco again! That’s when the lights are brightest, the music is loudest, and happiness flows freely like a river, reaching its mouth. Though some never experience this disco, others seek lots of them, the music and lights are different, but the feeling is the same, some even go back again, and again, to the same disco, no matter how many times it breaks. Others will find one, and stick in it, crashing other discos for awhile, and then returning to the one they have spent so long in.
Meanwhile, other people are dancing in large rooms, that have long been emptied of flashing bright lights, music no longer rings out, just one lone body, trying to carry on the party, failing. Slowly realising and slouching out, or just slouching to the side, sitting down and waiting for the next party in the same room. A room so dark that you can’t see your own hand scratching your nose, a room so dark you can’t see anyone else approaching, music still rings in your ears so you don’t hear them.
Then the ringing fades, the lone body runs around the room trying to search out the music again, “WHERE ARE YOU” echoes round the empty room; a moth flies up in shock, as another sounds echoes round the room. The banging of a locked door, no door will open, all locked. Loneliness locked into a room with itself. Others try to rid loneliness from the room, but none can get close enough to the body to rip out the pounding heart, a heart that yearns for the disco to restart, to lonely to even look for another disco.
But those who try to rid, and those who almost succeed are all lights along the path, lighting the way. Some are brighter than others, and some lights lead you out and along the path, only or you to regress back, those lights show the love of family and friends. The most important people, the most important variations of love, even if you are locked into the empty room, waiting for your favourite disco to return to it. But what happens if that disco doesn’t return, if that was the only stop here on the tour?
I think back to the dry, ‘I don’t actually care about my constituents’ politician and think out loud “Yes we really are a wasteful nation aren’t we!” but I’m not talking about refuse and recycling, I’m talking about wasting feelings, discos are no fun on our own, so why stay?

Monday, 3 January 2011

"Should old accaintance be forgot?"

So for the new year, I have decided to write a Blog. This shall be a place for me to muse, and rant, and explain and share. I first decided that I would start Blogging when I was reading a copy of the Methodist Recorder at my grandparents house on Boxing Day, and thinking that it would be quite cool to write regularly for them. It was quickly pointed out that I might need to get a reputation first!

Anyway, I have just returned from Brecon Beacons in Wales where I celebrated the New Year with Mum, Dad, and my sister along with some really great people who we know through Buckinghamshire DofE award scheme. Unfortunately my Brother and his fiancée couldn't join us due to work commitments, and I agreed to go before friends back home told me what they were planning. It was a shame I couldn't see it in with some great friends, but I had an amazing time playing about on the hill!

We celebrated last New Year in the same way, with the same people. For some it was the first time they had seen me and my sister in 10 years. I think we had changed slightly. But New Year is traditionally a time when we start afresh, we make promises to ourselves to hopefully make it a better year. I think, apart from keeping this updated, my resolution this year should be to keep in contact with friends better. Most of my friends have gone off to uni, and when they are home I always seem to be really busy with work. So I have friends I haven't seen since Easter! This is no good thing, and I will try harder!

No one is left by the way side.