An opportunity to share a few thoughts, and some of the resources produced by ByBrook ReSources across the Bristol and South Gloucestershire Circuit which is part of the Bristol District of the Methodist Church. During the Covid-19 Crisis check out Recent Posts Heading for Resources and Information.
Remembrance Sundayalways falls on the second Sunday in November for preachers this can be a difficult service to lead. I therefore offer the following resources and links to help those leading services.
BATTLE OF THE SOMME CENTENARY
The Battle of the Somme was fought at such terrible cost that it has come to symbolise the tragic futility of the First World War. Its first day of conflict remains the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army and it was felt deeply at home.
A prayer card for Remembrance Day, reflecting on loss, sacrifice and God’s promises of peace from Sgm. Produced in partnership with HOPE’s Greater Love campaign for the 100th anniversary of the First World War. Click: HEREfor more information
The Greater Love Pack, developed by HOPE Together along with CVM, will help church leaders, as well as men’s groups, produce a bespoke evangelistic meeting that is high quality and feature packed. It is the perfect resource for churches and men’s groups who want to lead their communities in remembering the ultimate sacrifice made by many. And the ultimate sacrifice made by one.
Endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Prince of Wales the pack features the following high impact testimonies:
‘Into the Unknown’ – An Air Force pilot and his wife share how faith in God has helped them.
‘Living Without Dad’ – Finding security in God with a dad/husband away on tour of duty.
‘What If’ – A Chinook helicopter pilot talks about his life ‘in God’s hands’.
‘Separate Though Confident’ – A Naval couple’s confidence in God when miles apart.
‘Suffering for His Sake’ – Daughter of a conscientious objector shares her memories.
‘Woodbine Willie’ and ‘The Menin Gate’ – A Gospel message plus stories of bravery and selflessness carried out in the name of Jesus who, himself, made the greatest sacrifice of all.
As well as short film clips, the pack also contains talk outlines, service suggestions and meeting plans for all age groups.
To Download Churches Together Powerpoint Click: HERE
– Arrived in Korea yesterday after a 12 hour flight, only to be measured for a new suit by our hosts before the coach had left the airport car park – from past experience they must know about my lack of dress sense.
– After 2 hours sleep we were woken at 5 am to watch the sunrise over Gyeongpo beach, a short walk from the hotel. Needless to say it was cloudy and even Korean prayer couldn’t bring out the sun!
The morning spent at Thomas Edison museum before driving to Mt Seorak and a trip on the cable car to the top.
At the foot of the mountain stands a seated bronze statue of Buddha, and a Sinheungsa Temple, the place was teeming with Korean visitors as this is a popular place to visit when they have free time. Unfortunately it was cloudy and misty and we could not make the most of the views, until the following day.
We spent the night in our second hotel “The Kensington stars” in the Seoraksan National Park – I think it could be a case of how many different beds one can sleep in 10 days!
However the following morning the views across the mountains were stunning
The transport today seemed some what familiar!
Fortunately we discovered our coach was just round the corner! Today we are off to the DMZ – the boarder between North and South Korea. I have visited twice before and have always found it to be a moving experience how the country was split into 2 part over political ideals. We have already been checked by the military as this is one of the most sensitive areas in the world and will post pictures when I return to the UK. We travel to the site of the Eulji Observatory.
Here one can see both boarders with Mt Geumgangsan in the distance in the North. After the Korean War the DMZ was marked out – a neutral zone littered with landmines, both North & South had 2 kilometers of land each side where they planed there own mines and set up a wire fence. Over the years both sides have gradually moved there own fence walls closer together, and at some points only 2 kilometers form the DMZ.We journeyed to the entrance of the 4th tunnel – back in the 1970’s North Korea started to tunnel under the mountain range, and DMZ with the aim of attacking the South, in the 1990’s the tunnels were discovered and intercepted by the South and parts destroyed. However it is possible to travel inside these tunnels by a small train and see how human hands dug through the granite stone for decades. The South took less than a month using modern tunneling equipment to intercept these tunnels as they past the agreed boarder.
In the afternoon we visited a newly opened area – the day before a national service of Remembrance was being held to remember the 25,000 who died in three days in that place during the Korean War. We make our way along a path with mine fields either side of us.
We continue to Hwaseong city and after a 3 hour drive arrive at Dongtan Zion Methodist church to find we are staying with church members overnight. I am delighted to discover my hosts speak English!
– We are taken at 4.30am back to church for early morning prayer. Over 1000 people arrive by 5am. Jonathan Pye speaks on our behalf.
After breakfast we are taken by minibus to Cheon Cheon Church, in Hwaseong City where my good friend Pastor Lee is the minister. He always puts the flags out for us! Impressive or what – I have noticed over the years I have moved up the pecking order.
After Korean refreshments, it’s great to see since my last visit 4 years ago that Pastor Lee has installed a coffee machine, Mr Suit man has come to check our final measurements, I have either put on weight since arriving or his tape measure is wrong.. I pray that when it is finish I will indeed fit into it and breathe.
The rest of the day is spent at Hyungsung University and it is good to be able to catch up on developments, as it is 8 years since I last visited the theology dept.
After lunch we are collected by various host churches, I am staying for the weekend in Ansan, just outside Seoul, with Pastor Park and his wife. I last saw them at Central Methodist Church in Chippenham a couple of years ago when they came over for a visit to the New Room. We have a Prayer Meeting tonight at 9pm, followed by another homestay and early Prayers at 5am in the morning, followed by a church sale in the morning.
– Half way through our trip, has 5 days passed since we left the UK? – today was spent at Pastor Park Church. most of the church members came to support a charity fund raising sale to help the poor and needy. Bring and buy type sale, held outside on the street, together with food and drink drew a steady stream of customers all day.
They worked non stop all day – I took a little nap in the afternoon. Korean Pastors often had a bed in the vestry for such occasions, if they don’t live in a flat attached to the church. It was good to see all ages taking an active role in the event. Pastor Park explained his passion for the poor, and that the gap between those “with” and those “With little” was growing. Not all Koreans are wealthy, and whilst talking to people on the street I met an elderly lady who cleaned the street every day early in the morning, as she had no pension.
I eat with the “workers” after they had packed up about 7 pm, considering they started about 8 am it was a full 12 hour day – as you will see from the photo we had fun together over food. eating together at church is important and the Young People said it happened a couple of times a month.
I am very grateful to my hosts Mr & Mrs Han and their son Min for their hospitality, even if it meant spending two nights sleeping on the floor! I hope I have an opportunity to meet up with them again.
– Sunday, again I am up early to go to the prayer meeting, Pastor Park spends at least 4 hours each day in prayer, I am not sure that I am up to the task. We return “home” for breakfast and then back to church for the main service. I am the preacher and have taken the text “You are salt & Light” – it is always a challenge to preach in Korean, even if you have someone to translate for you.
After the service, lunch is prepared and eaten at church. It is common for the church to provide lunch for those attending. Visitors and new members often eat together in a special room, where they are introduced to the Pastor and Church Elders. Gifts are exchanged and they are introduced over several weeks into the ethos of the church and Christianity. At the “Good Neighbour” church, a table is set aside for such people. The meal provides another opportunity for a photo – how they love selfies.Pastor Park informs me that the members go onto the streets each Sunday afternoon on “mission”, thus suitably dressed in pink I go armed with welcome leaflets and gift bags, comprising of nylon brillo pads to give out, although it is raining it does nothing to dampen their spirits – can this be the same congregation that spent 14 hours out on the streets yesterday?
We spend an hour or so on street corners and outside the local supermarket plying our wears, and receive a mix reception. Pastor Park founded the church with his wife 24 years ago, after planting two previous churches. This is a poor neighbourhood that he felt God had called him to serve in. Since then other churches have moved into the area, one mega church that has slowly been draining the life blood out of the smaller churches as they can offer so much more. He has firm views on the subject, that they are only interested in growth not the people, as Pastors of larger churches can demand more pay and reap the
benefits, one has to admire his conviction that he has chosen to say put and not move away. I have to return to Cheon Cheon church to meet up with the rest of the group, and together we share stories of our host churches and the people we have encountered. This part of our trip is always a highlight for me. And whilst we can not always speak the same language, the thing that unites us is our love of Christ, and over the weekend all have found that “strangers are now friends” It is amazing that with a few gestures and a few words of English and Korean what can be achieved. We are as the hymn puts it, “We are one in the bond of love” – although I am glad to say that Jonathan would not allow us to sing it this time.
Tonight we move into a new hotel in Hwaseong City.
No early morning prayers for us today, a leisurely breakfast, then collected by mini bus which will be our mode of transport for the remainder of our time here.
Today we are to meet the Governor of the Kyunggi Do Province and later the Deputy mayor of Puju for a tour of the Gloucester Valley Battle Monument. The Governor is a possible Presidential Candidate, well respected for his social welfare and reforms and the youngest Governor in Korea.
Meeting the Governor
The Governor presents us with a plaque containing a piece of barb wired from the DMZ. We have a conversation about his plans for welfare reform in the province and discover that he is a practising Baptist. I tell him that we will pray for him, his staff and his church and for unification of Korea.
Off to Puju to meet the Deputy Mayor.
Paju is near the DMZ third tunnel which was discovered in 1978. It is 2m wide/high and 1,635m long, some 30,000 troops could potentially pass through the tunnel in an hour. The plan for the day was to visit the Peace Park constructed in 2005 as part of the Korean Peace Festival.From my previous visit in 2012 you can see both North and South borders clearly and the steam train that goes “Nowhere”, caught in the middle of the DMZ for many years the train rusted away as the borders were closed. Over the years the borders of both sides have moved closer together so the train is now on the South Korean side. Along the border fence people have written the names of loved ones and family members who found themselves in North Korea when the border closed after the Korean war. Unfortunately the Peace Park was closed on a Monday!
We continue to Gloster Hill Memorial
The Gloucestershire Regiment was an infantry regiment of the British Army. Nicknamed “The Glorious Glosters”, the regiment carried more battle honours on their regimental colours than any other British Army line regiment.The regiment saw heavy fighting in the Korean War at Gloster Hill during the Battle of the Imjin River in 1951. 650 soldiers and officers from the 1st Battalion, the Gloucestershire Regiment were deployed on the most important crossing on the Imjin River to block the ford across the river where vehicles could cross to Seoul. The orders were to “Hold on to the Hill” at all costs. China had sent an entire division – 10,000 men in a major offensive to take the whole Korean peninsula.
On Sunday the 22nd, as men prepared for battle, Protestant and Catholic padres of the whole British brigade preached to packed congregations. At midnight, the main body of the Chinese division, part of the Sixty Third Army, arrived at the ford and poured in their thousands across the river. The Chinese fell on the Glouceshire Regiment like “a swollen wave . . . breaking on the shore”, Sir Anthony records in his official history of the war. By Tuesday, ammunition was running out and the Chinese were firing from all sides on desperate bands of men as they scrambled down sheer, rocky slopes for the cover of gorges or trees. The British tried to resort to ingenuity as their supplies ran out. Gen Soule ordered the Gloucesters to hold fast and await relief the following morning. With that their fate was sealed. On Wednesday morning, 25th, they heard the news that relief forces were not coming. Only 40 men survived. The battle however marked a turning point in the Korean War, and the Chinese were driven back.
Those who died in battle are buried in a cave behind this wall, since I visited in 2012, the area surrounding the monument was relandscaped in 2014 into a fitting memorial. We said prayers and wreaths of flowers were laid by Jonathan and the deputy mayor.
We journeyed on to the “Hero’s Bridge” which was in the process of being constructed.
It is 150 m long and crosses the valley, the Bridge was due to be officially opened on the 22nd October, a couple of days after we return to the UK. Click: BBC news to hear the news report of the opening.
After a long day, dinner is served at the Blue Water Tower as we drive back to our hotel.
Day 8 – March 1st Movement
Today we were due to visit The Headquarters of The Korean Methodist Church, internal politics of the election of the new Presiding Bishop prevented us from doing so. So in true Korean style we had as David Hull referred to such events, “Change of plan”.
We visit first the village of Jeam-ri to learn about the 3:1 Independent movement of 1919 which lead to the formation of Korea as we know it today, which came as a result of the repressive nature of colonial occupation under the military rule of the Japanese Empire following the Japanese annexation of Korea in 1905. Japanese rule of Korea was the outcome of a process that began with the Japan -Korea Treaty of 1876, whereby a complex coalition of Meiji government, military, and business officials sought to integrate Korea both politically and economically into the Empire of Japan. As part of the uprising against the Japanese occupation in 1919 Japanese soldiers massacred 37 Koreans and destroyed the village of Jeam-ri.
Soldiers assembled the all the Christian men of the village and herded them into the village church, and then set light to the straw which they placed around the building to raise it to the ground. Two wives tried to join their husbands in the church and were also shot dead as they entered the building. Today a new church and memorial stands on the spot of the massacre. During the Japanese occupation, much if not all Korean culture was destroyed and whilst during this visit I haven’t had the opportunity to visit a cultural folk village I have several times on previous visits.
It was not until the end of World War II that Korea regained its independence after 35 years of Japanese rule, and after splitting the nation into North & South. The mound in the picture below is where those massacred bodies are buried. We pray for all victims of warfare and violence both past and present.
We stop for a steak lunch, we seem to have eaten more Western food during this visit than ever before.
It seems that we are running out of time for our second visit of the day. After careful negotiationsI have managed to persuaded our hosts that going shopping and finding a coffee shop is preferable than spending time in the sauna. Jongsin who never misses the opportunity for a sauna goes off with our hosts, whilst we wait for the Junior Pastors to arrive to “baby sit” us. It seems they too prefer coffee to Sauna!
Our final day in Korea and we have been promised a visit to Seoul. The journey takes for ever due to the traffic, then we have the issue of parking the mini bus!
We find ourselves outside Sangdong Methodist Church, never wanting to miss a chance of introducing us to a Methodist Pastor, JongSin herds us into the building. We meet Senior Pastor Cheol Seo, and discover we have arrived in time for mid day prayers, Jonathan is invited to preach. Jonathan and I have visited the church before, which played an important part in the independence movement. The entrance depicts the scene, and the church was one of the earliest Methodist churches in to be founded in Seoul and is regarded as the mother of the Korean Methodist Church, it was founded in 1888 by the Missionary Dr William B. Scranton, of UMC. Sangdong Methodist Church provided both spiritual, medical and education, worked for the independence of Korea from Japanese military ruling, and brought up many national leaders through youth schools supported by the Church.
During this critical period of Korea’s history church leaders were in the vanguard of the Independence Movements and economic reform, and Sangdong Methodist Church was at the forefront of this movement, and today it part in the Independence Movement is marked by a plaque at the front of the church.
We are back at Cheon Cheon Church for our last meal with church members, our suits have yet to arrive, as we were anticipating wearing them for our farewell service. (maybe thats not such a bad thing!). The food was a mixture of English and Korean, complete with Crunchy nut cereal.
It seems strange that tomorrow we will be back in the Uk.
As is the tradition Young People lead the opening part of worship, Jonathan preaches – no where have I heard that sermon before! He is feeling the strain of the trip as he has put in the most work.
After the service we retire to the top floor to the “guest room” where suddenly our new suits arrive. Will they fit is the question.
A little snug is the answer!
Our final morning in Korea, after breakfast we are collected and driven to the airport about 30 minutes Korean time or 1.5 hours Uk time!
A delegation of Pastors meet us at the airport, normally this part of the trip concerns me as you never know what parting gifts you might receive. Last time it was 12 crates of Korean pears – each pear the size of a mellon, 12 to a crate! Fortunately we are given a CD and photo’s of our visit. After our final farewells we are off to book in…..
and wait for our flight to depart.
A great trip and our thanks to JongSin and those in Korea for hosting us and Jonathan for putting up with a mixture of Presbyters from across the Bristol District. As they say next year in… Bristol!
Many thanks to Jonathan, David, Mark, Keith, Andrew, Simon for your company and colleagueship during the 10 days. As far as I am aware all made it safely home once we had landed at Heathrow.
Thank you to all the churches and individuals who have donated Harvest gifts to The Bristol Methodist Centre this autumn.
The issue of those who are vulnerable and homeless is a growing concern, as is those who are sleeping rough on the streets. The Bristol Methodist Centre are finding that those attending day by day as “guests” keep increasing, and whilst this shows that we as a church are meeting a need, it is a concern that the need keeps on growing. The Centre has applied for grant funding to employ another member of staff and if successful they will join the team by Christmas.
Often people arrive at the Centre with only the clothes they are wearing. Because of this we like to have our own clothes store. At the moment we especially need men’s jeans and trainers and track suit bottoms.
Please remember that the Charity Shop has relocated to 138 CHURCH ROAD, Redfield, Bristol BS5 9HH next door to Bethesda Methodist Church. Telephone: 0117 907 9875. The manager Sandie will be please to take from you any good clothes or bric a brac, proceeds will support the work of the Centre.
More rough sleepers in Bristol than anywhere else in England, outside of London
Those are just the official figures given by Bristol City Council’s estimates – they say it’s accurate because of “regular intelligence gathering” – when in reality, the situation is probably worse.
Late last year, Mayor George Ferguson agreed to open four empty buildingsto take in more rough sleepers, while extra beds have been put on by charities in a bid to help the problem.
The charity St Mungo’s has provided another 20 beds, while four empty buildings are now available to anyone sleeping rough. The council is again looking to open up another two more buildings to provide 10 more long-term bed spaces.
But campaigners say the council has failed to tackle to root of the problem, which comes down to a lack of housing stock and rising rent and house prices. There has been increasing demand, with the population growing quickly.
Caring in Bristol (formerly Caring at Christmas) have produced The Survival Handbook which is designed to be a point of reference for anyone finding themselves homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in the Bristol area. It also serves agencies and other organisations in providing useful information to assist them in helping homeless people.
Street Link is a service that enables the public to alert local authorities in England about rough sleepers in their area. It is the first step you can take to ensure rough sleepers are connected to the local services and support available to them.
The longer someone sleeps rough, the greater the risk that they will become trapped on the streets and vulnerable to becoming a victim of crime, developing drug or alcohol problems, or experiencing problems with their health.
Rough sleepers may not be known to local services because they remain out of sight, bedding down at different times of day or night, and moving from place to place. And not all rough sleepers are aware that advice and support is available to them.
By using this app to alert us about a rough sleeper you’ll help to connect that person to the local services available.
To find out more about Street Link and to Download Street Link App Click: HERE