New Year

As we prepare for a New Year, I found this helpful and reflective prayer from John Vest & Christian Aid.

Prayer for the New Year

God of wisdom and truth,
at the beginning of this new year
we look back and we look forward.
In the year that has passed
we experienced joy and we experienced sorrow;
we felt blessed and we felt challenged.
Some things went by much too fast,
and some things lingered for far too long.
Here in this place
we are reminded that you are present through it all.
We are reminded that we are never alone.
We are reminded that nothing can separate us from your love.
So at the beginning of this new year,
we pause now in silence
to reflect on the year that has passed.
We remember the things from this past year that we are most thankful for.
We recall the moments we were the happiest.
We consider the times we felt most alive.
We recognize the times we gave and received the most love.
(silence)
We are grateful, God, that you were present in those times.
We also remember the things from this past year that we are least thankful for.
We recall the moments we were the least happy.
We consider the times we felt life draining from us.
We recognize the times we gave and received the least love.
(silence)
We are grateful, God, that you were present in those times too.
Gracious God,
at the beginning of this new year,
we also look forward to the year to come.
We are confident that you will be with us still,
when we are thankful and when we are not;
when we are happy and when we are sad;
when we feel alive and when we feel drained;
when we give and receive love and when we do not.
God, the world we live in is messy and challenging,
it is the world of King Herod,
a world of pain,
a world of doubt,
a world of fear,
a world of jealousy,
a world of violence,
a world of domination,
a world of injustice,
a world of human failings.
Yet, God, you are with us always.
So give us grace and give us courage
to live faithfully in this imperfect world.
Remind us always of the promise of your kingdom,
emerging around us and through us.
It is for this kingdom that we now pray,
using the words Jesus taught us.
Our Father…
~ written by John W. Vest and posted on John Vest. http://johnvest.com/
Here’s are gathering words for a New Year service,  posted on the Christian Aid website.

 At the Dawn of a New Year

At the dawn of a new year, 
we come to welcome hope for a new world.
Let the darkness lift, 
to welcome a dawn of plenty, 
with enough for everyone 
and people ready to share.
Let the day begin, 
with new energy for the struggle 
to protect our children 
and to care for the vulnerable.
Let the light shine, 
to open a path to safety 
for all who are seeking home 
and longing for life.
Let the sun rise 
on new talks and new resolve 
to end the bombing and the terror 
and to find solutions that will last.
At the dawn of a new year 
we come to declare our hope 
and to welcome a new world. 
 
~ written by Susan Durber, and posted on the Monthly Prayers page of theChristian Aid website. http://www.christianaid.org.uk/

Remembrance

The end of October and the month of November is in the church calender a time of remembrance, starting with All- Haalows Eve on 31st October and All Saints Day on 1st Nomember. A time when we remember those amongst us have moved from the Earthly Kingdom to the Heavenly Kingdom of saints in glory.

As we move through November to Advent, we remember those killed in conflict and war, both past and present, and those who often face daily conflict, abuse in their daily lives today.

Remembrance Sunday prayers

A variety of prayers for use on Remembrance Sunday

An all-age prayer for Remembrance Sunday

Lord, we are saddened at the thought of war,
of the soldiers who must fight
and all those people who are killed.
Today we remember their sacrifice with great sadness.
We thank them for what they did for us.

We also remember that they won for us a victory,
that without their bravery these wars may have been lost,
and our lives could have been so very different,
without the freedom we so much enjoy.
We thank them for what they did for us.

We are saddened at the thought of your suffering,
that you, too, had to be a great hero,
and walk to Jerusalem, be arrested, tried
and killed on that horrible cross.
We thank you for what you did for us.

We also remember that you won for us a victory,
that on Easter morning you rose again,
and helped us to overcome our human nature,
so that we might rise again with you.
We thank you for what you did for us.
Amen.

 

A prayer for Remembrance Sunday to use with young people

God, it’s difficult to see the point of wearing a poppy,
or what difference two minutes’ silence will make
when we could be shouting protests.
But we can recognise a broken life being valued,
a gift being given,
and taking two minutes to reflect on how much we have.
We look to the future, not to the past.
We cannot change what has been
but do not need to repeat its mistakes.
So as old and young come together before you,
take the very best of our lives;
bind us into one people of faith
and help us to share our common values,
love of Jesus and care for each other;
to build dreams,
and, with your Holy Spirit,
turn them into reality.
Amen.

A prayer of petition for those affected by war

God of justice and peace,
we pray for those who have been injured
or disabled through war.
For those who have lost homes
and security through conflict;
for those who have lost loved relatives in wars;
for those who face danger and take risks for peace;
for all those, especially children, caught up in current conflicts;
for refugees and all those in need of aid and other help.
God of encouragement
and Saviour of the despairing,
comfort those who remember past sacrifices
and guide us in building
a just and peaceful community for all.
Amen.

A prayer for peacemakers

History can inspire or trap.
Walls can protect or divide.
Words can encourage or inflame.
Power can free or destroy.
Touch can comfort or violate.
Peace can be shared or withheld.
Gracious God, on this day,
when we remember past and present conflicts,
we pray for the divided peoples of the world,
that leaders, governments and each one of us
may use our resources,
our opportunities and our lives
in the service of reconciliation,
for the sake of future generations
and to the glory of your name.
Amen.

A prayer for reconciliation

As one family, we reflect today on the horrors of the past that continue
to haunt humanity and darken our world.
Lord, where pain still overwhelms, bring healing.
Where hearts are still breaking, bring comfort.
Where peoples are still oppressed, bring liberation.
Where communities are still victimised, bring justice.
Where children are still brutalised, bring compassion.
Where lives are still crushed, bring hope.
Where evil is perpetrated, bring repentance.
Where war still devastates, bring peace.
But most of all,
wherever a single voice cries out in the darkness,
bring us to one another,
in the name of the love you bear in your heart for all people,
all nations and all creation.
Amen.

 

Prayer in a time of hopelessness

We entrust to you, eternal God,
those times when we can see only shadows
and lose sight of the hope to come;
the times when suffering seems so senseless,
life so fragile, war so unstoppable and death so permanent.
Bless us with the assurance that you are in all things,
the tragic and the beautiful,
the nightmare and the dream,
the light and the darkness.
This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ
the peace of the world, today, tomorrow and forever.
Amen.

Transgender Remembrance

Singing the Faith Plus editor, Laurence Wareing, introduces Transgender Remembrance Day (20 November, 2017) and resources to help mark it.

Check out the Singing the Faith website: http://www.singingthefaithplus.org.uk/?p=14251

Hate crime is growing in Britain. The official statistics for 2016/17 (England and Wales) record a 29 per cent increase on the previous year across all categories of hate crime. In large part, the rise is attributed to a growing willingness to report such crimes. But not all. Events such as the European Referendum and terrorist attacks on Westminster Bridge and in Manchester are cited as presenting contributing factors.

Race hate crimes are by far the largest category (78 percent). However, the highest percentage increases were in Disability hate crimes (53 per cent) and Transgender hate crimes (a 45 per cent increase, from 858 to 1,234).

To say that Transgender hate crime constitutes “only” two per cent of the overall total misses the point. The numbers are shocking both in themselves and as also as one indicator of a society’s overall health.

Six years ago, on the Sunday nearest to 20 November, I attended a worship service in which we remembered those who had been killed during the previous year as a result of anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. I was shocked and moved by what I heard. Name after name was read out – individuals from all over the world, many of them from south American countries – and we listened in deepening silence.

We know that so often it is minority groups in society that bear the greater weight of prejudice and our intolerance towards those “not like us”. I had not understood the degree of hatred experienced by many transgender communities worldwide. And once again I was made to reflect hard on my Christian commitment to equality and diversity, inspired by the grace-filled life and teachings of Jesus.

Rita Hester, whose murder inspired the first Transgender Remembrance Day of Remembrance is held in November, whose murder on 28 November 1998 inspired a candlelight vigil in San Francisco in 1999. Each year since, a list of those killed during the previous 12 months is compiled and their lives recalled on this day.

Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance is self-identified as transgender (as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant), each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people.

Resources for transgender Remembrance

Though there are a number of websites that provide helpful information around Transgender Remembrance, it is not easy to find resources for use in worship.

Last year (2016):

The 2013 publication Bold I Approach, produced by the Methodist LGBT organisation Outcome, includes a prayer for use on Transgender Remembrance Day by Jan Goddard. The volume includes other resources appropriate for the occasion.

On the Singing the Faith Plus website, we have published a hymn, We come today to celebrate, by the Revd Stephanie Jenner, written for the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Eucharist at the 2013 Greenbelt Festival. Though Transgender Remembrance is often a quiet and reflective occasion, Stephanie’s words – sung to the tune “Amazing Grace” – may lend to the occasion a helpful note of Christian hopefulness. Also published here is Gary Hopkins’ When our views are varied.

The International Transgender Day of Remembrance website offers an introduction to the day and maintains an up to date list of those who will be remembered each year. It also lists where remembrance events will take place including in the UK (usually upated near the time). See also the Metropolitan Community Churches website, which includes other helpful links and a simple running order for an act of remembrance.

Sunday of Prayer for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula

S8306643
Wall of Ribbons remembering family who are stranded in North Korea

The World Council of Churches, the World Communion of Reformed Churches and World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) are calling their member churches to observe, on 13 August, a “Sunday of Prayer for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula.”

Each year, Christians are invited to join in a prayer for peace and reunification of the Korean Peninsula. Prepared by the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) and the Korean Christian Federation (KCF), the prayer is traditionally used on the Sunday before 15 August every year.

The 15th of August, celebrated as Liberation Day in both North and South Korea, marks the date in 1945 when Korea won independence from Japanese colonial oppression, yet ironically it also was the day when the peninsula was divided into two countries.

The theme for this year’s prayer is based on Romans 14:19: “Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”

Churches are encouraged to translate this prayer into their national languages and share it with their congregations.

 North South/South North Joint Prayer for Peaceful Reunification

Mortal, take a stick and write on it, “For Judah, and the Israelites associated with it”; then take another stick and write on it, “For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with it”; and join them together into one stick, so that they may become one in your hand. (Ezekiel 37: 16-17, NRSV)

God of grace!

Once again, we greet the month of August, the month of Independence where North and South still celebrate separately and remember it differently. It has been a long, harsh period, one with cruel struggles between the two countries. No longer are we oppressed by Japanese forces, but our people are still filled with contempt for each other and our country is still challenged by neighboring forces. Lord, pity us.

God who rules history,

For the last 72 years, we dreamed of being one, but we lived like foes, not living up to our dreams. We lived separated from our family and torn apart by different ideology and systems. Lord, bring the history of our people together with your holy hands. Let us hope for unification with passionate hearts and work together so fervently that we shed the sweat of hope. For every August we encounter, help us sincerely repent with our hearts, and fill us with a strong will for unification.

God who leads peace,

Lord, we speak of one people, one sisterhood/brotherhood while filled with hatred against each other. We have violated the spirit of the Inter-Korean Basic Agreement, the June 15 Joint Declaration, and the October 4 Joint Declaration and also firmly locked the doors of the Keumkang Mt. and Gaeseong Industrial Complex. Thus, we were left with a greater danger and greater threat. Lord, listen to our desperate cries that thirst for peace.

God who gives hope,

Lord, help us to dream once more of a beautiful land where no joint-military exercise is needed. Let us welcome a new world where we are not interfered with or challenged by neighboring strong powers. Let us once again begin with the same overwhelming determination we had as of August 15, 1945. Please quickly open the doors of intercommunication and let us walk hand in hand for joint prosperity. Lord, let the North and South greet each other without prejudice. Help us newly begin a history of reconciliation and embracement on this land.

God of grace!

Bestow your grace upon the whole of Korea. Shine down pure rays of peace from Baekdu to Halla, and wet the entire land with showers of joy. Give happiness to the 80 million fellow Koreans throughout this land and this world, and guide them to be leaders of their own lives. Bring our strengthened community to be servants of the world.

God of Peace, we pray in Jesus name.

August 15, 2017

National Council of Churches in Korea           Korean Christian Federation

A Call to Prayer for a Just Peace

Amid tensions between North Korea, and the USA during the past few weeks and joining with the World Council of Churches, the general secretary of the United Methodist Church issues a call to prayer for peace.


On this day, 72 years ago, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki – just three days after dropping one on the city of Hiroshima. It is estimated that over 150,000 people were killed over those three days.

Fast forward to present day, the last few months have been met with anxiety and tension around threats of nuclear weapons and warfare. Leaders in North Korea continue to isolate their country as they threaten Creation with nuclear missiles. Leaders in the United States agitate and provoke with threats of destruction. It is during times like these when we must join together in a call for the exhaustion of all diplomatic efforts before turning to military action.

The United Methodist Church believes war to be “incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ.” The Church “insists that the first moral duty of all nations is to work together to resolve by peaceful means every dispute that arises between or among them” 

The United Methodist Church also “supports the abolition of nuclear weapons…We call all nations that possess nuclear weapons to renounce these vile instruments of mass destruction and to move expeditiously to dismantle all nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles” 

In the Council of Bishops’ 1985 foundation document “In Defense of Creation: the Nuclear Crisis and a Just Peace,” the bishops assert that one of the “most important purposes of Christian peacemaking is the exercise of their God-given power in the political arena.” They affirm two essential means of fulfilling this purpose:

  1. personal involvement of United Methodist leaders, lay and clergy, at every level in nurturing political action as an imperative of shalom, and
  2. direct and regular personal engagement of our church members with policy makers in foreign and defense policy.

The bishops also make clear that peacemaking is “ultimately a spiritual issue,” and “without conversion of minds and hearts, the political systems of this world will remain estranged from shalom.”

Because of this need for spiritual and political peace, the World Council of Churches has designated this Sunday, August 13th 2017, as the Sunday of Prayer for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula. The National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) and the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) have prepared a prayer for churches to use on Sunday.

So I call upon all United Methodists to join in prayer this Sunday: for peace on the Korean Peninsula, for peace in the hearts of our leaders, and for peace among all peoples.

May we continue to faithfully follow the Prince of Peace, and find comfort in the words of the Apostle Paul:

“For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” (Ephesians 2:14)

The joint prayer was prepared by the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) from North Korea and the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) from South Korea.

 

S8303075
looking across the DMZ to North Korea –  October 2016

The World Council of Churches (WCC), World Communion of Reformed Churches and now the WEA are inviting parishes and individuals across the world to pray for the reconciliation and healing of the divided Korean Peninsula.

Bishop Efraim Tendero, secretary general of the WEA, comments: “Dialogue and understanding is the right and moral way forward as we uphold the dignity and great value of every people who bear the image of the God of Peace.” He added  “On this Sunday of prayer, we bring before the Lord our plea for a peaceful resolution and the reunification of the Korean Peninsula. May God change hearts, may He change minds, and may He bring about unity in this land to the glory of His name.”

The day of prayer is arriving during a time when the WCC and many other organizations are urging dialogue and engagement, not threats and sanctions, as military tension on the Korean Peninsula escalates.

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit expressed concern over whether sanctions demonstrate any positive impact in bringing a return to negotiations or preventing its development of nuclear weapons.

“It is not at all clear how the new sanctions can be expected to make any more positive contribution to this extremely delicate and dangerous situation,” Tveit said.

“We call for a sea-change in the international community’s approach to North Korea, in favour of dialogue and engagement rather than military and political confrontation.”

“Increasing participation in the day of prayer indicates that many people, from many nations, are choosing to walk together on a path of peace and hope for the Korean Peninsula and the world,” said Tveit.

“The WCC represents 560 million people, the WCRC represents 80 million and the WEA 600 million more from around the world,” he said. “Clearly the pilgrimage of justice peace is a growing, thriving movement, and we would like to invite even more to join us.”

World Communion of Reformed Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Chris Ferguson concluded “We believe churches across the world can, through prayer, help foster an environment in which peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula can flourish.”

The day of prayer occurs two days before Liberation Day in Korea (15 August), during which people celebrate Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonization.

DSCN9765

Theft of Metal

Historic England is aware of the issues of crime surrounding historic places of worship. Heritage crime can manifest itself through, amongst other things, lead theft from roofs or the theft of artwork or sculptures.

Lead roofing stripped from a church roof as a result of heritage crime
Metal stripped from the roof of a church © Historic England

Metal theft

Historic England knows that metal theft is a significant part of a wider problem of heritage crime. At a time of high global demand for raw materials many historic places of worship are targeted by thieves in search of metals including lead, copper and zinc.

Roofs are often the target but gutters, downpipes, lightning conductors, stone walling and paving also get taken. Every day we identify sites that have had metal stolen and have frequent communication with the Police, Crown Prosecution Service and local authorities so that information can be shared and perpetrators identified, arrested and punished.

Can metal theft be prevented?

Metal, and other, theft causes huge stress for people caring for historic places of worship. Often it is not only the immediate damage that is a problem but further problems caused by water ingress before repairs can be done.  

On top of that there is the cost of dealing with the situation, which may not be fully covered by insurance.  Preventing potential theft is preferable to dealing with dealing with the unfortunate aftermath and we have produced guidance which is useful to all historic places of worship regardless of faith or denomination. Ecclesiastical Insurance have useful information on roof alarms and products such as SmartWater, a system used to mark valuable items which can be traced.

Theft of Metal from Church Buildings (2011) concentrates on the theft of metals from roofs but is equally applicable to other metals and materials. The guidance outlines our approach and advice on the significance of lead, how to protect it and to respond to theft.  It also offers detailed practical advice on selecting the materials to be used for historic church roofs and making it secure.

How should metal theft be reported?

Contact the Police Directly. If you see thieves in action do not confront them but immediately call 999.  If you find that a theft has already happened then report it on 101.

If you have information about a crime and are happy to give the police your name and address you should contact the police directly either by phone or by attending the nearest police station.

You can find contact details for your local police force through their website or by visiting Ask the Police to access an extensive bank of police-based frequently asked questions.

However you report the crime make sure the call-handler knows:

  • That it is an attack on an historic, protected, community building
  • That the building is managed and maintained by volunteers
  • That you must have a crime number so there is a clear identification for insurance purposes

Remember also to contact someone with responsibility for the building.  It is possible that you are the first person to report the crime and if further damage is to be avoided it is imperative that emergency protection is provided.

What to do once you have reported the crime?

To remain anonymous, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers (to pass on information about crime or criminal activity. You will never have to give a formal statement, talk to police or be a witness in court, and you could receive a reward of up to £1,000 if the information you give leads to the arrest and charge of at least one person. You can contact Crimestoppers 24 hours a day by calling 0800 555 111 or via their online information giving page.

Once the crime has been reported to the police there are a number of steps to take:

  • Notify your insurance company
  • Notify your architect or surveyor so they can inspect the damage and help you arrange emergency coverings to minimise further damage
  • Ask a contractor to inspect the damage and surrounding area and implement short-term repairs to prevent water ingress. It is strongly recommended that competent, experienced lead workers are employed; Lead Contractors Association (LCA) members receive specialist training and have their work vetted and guaranteed
  • Methodist, and United Reformed Church congregations should notify their respective Advisory Committees
  • If your building is listed grade I or II* seek advice from your local Historic England team
  • Tell neighbouring congregations what has happened, as they are likely to be at heightened risk

Historic England provides more detailed advice on dealing with crime and the impact of crime in their guidance note Theft of Metal from Church Buildings. When considering repairs to any damage caused you will need to ensure you obtain the relevant permissions and more guidance is available on their page Listings and Permissions.

Terror Attack in London

Thoughts and prayers go out to all those involved in the van & car attack last night.

A statement from the Chairs of the London District in response to the attack at London Bridge and Borough Market.

Today marks the feast of Pentecost within the Christian Church – a day when we remember people from all over the world gathering in Jerusalem for a festival. We remember God’s Holy Spirit of peace and love being poured into the world in a new and dynamic way, breaking down barriers of language and nation.

The area around Borough Market and London Bridge on a Saturday night is usually a place of festival – a vibrant place where people from all over the world gather to enjoy each other’s company. It is shocking to wake up to the news of the devastating attack that took place last night.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have died, those who are injured and those who mourn. We are again deeply moved by stories of courage shown by our emergency services and by members of the public who put themselves at risk to shield others from harm.

As we offer prayers in churches and homes today, we pray that these events will not lead to the spread of fear in our city but that, once again, Londoners will stand united against those who would have us turn on each other in hate.

Michaela Youngson and Nigel Cowgill
Chairs of the London District of the Methodist Church

A Prayer

Loving God,
Your Son, Jesus Christ, is the Prince of Peace.
We pray that his peace might bring comfort into the lives of those who mourn,
We remember those who have died and pray for the healing of those wounded.
We give thanks for all the emergency services, for their skill and courage.
We ask that witnesses and those traumatized by violence will find peace.
At this time of festivals we pray,
for Christians celebrating the birth of the church at Pentecost;
for our Jewish sisters and brothers who have celebrated their festival of Shavout;
for our Muslim sisters and brothers in this holy month of Ramadan;
for all people of faith and good will.
May your world know peace and may we have the courage to be peacemakers in our homes our community and our world.
In the name of Christ.
Amen.

 

Manchester Bomb attack – “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

Image result for manchester

My thoughts and prayers are with all those who were involved in the horrific events in Manchester last night.

Below is a statement from the President & Vice-President of Conference

The Revd Dr Roger Walton, President of the Methodist Conference and Vice-President, Rachel Lampard, have responded to last night’s attack in Manchester. Andrew Lunn, Chair of Manchester and Stockport District, and Peter Martin, Chair of Bolton and Rochdale District, have written a prayer. Youth President, Tim Annan, has also released a statement.


From the Revd Dr Roger Walton, President of the Methodist Conference, and Rachel Lampard, Vice-President of the Methodist Conference:
     

We are appalled by the horrific bombing at the Manchester Arena. We pray for the families of those who have been killed or who are injured, and for those, many of whom will be young, who have been scarred and scared by what they have witnessed.

       

We give thanks for the emergency services and for the many ordinary people who demonstrated compassion in responding to those caught up in the tragedy. We ask the Methodist people to hold the people of Manchester and beyond in their prayers as we remember the words of Psalm 34, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

       

From Andrew Lunn, Chair of Manchester and Stockport District, and Paul Martin, Chair of Bolton and Rochdale District of the Methodist Church:

       

In the face of the violent and deadly attack at the Manchester Arena last night, the Methodist people in Manchester are united with many others in their sense of shock, and in their prayers for all those who have been bereaved, wounded, or traumatised.

       

As we seek to respond to this terrible event we are grateful for those who have affirmed that, so far as it is possible, we will not let this attack change our daily lives. Some people have been tweeting using the hashtag #WeAreNotAfraid – in this way those who are stronger support those who feel the weight of anxiety, pain and fear.

       

Among the stories beginning to emerge there are many about the ways people have sought to help others: providing safe places, or lifts home, or passing on messages to help those who were separated find each other. It is through such small acts that we reaffirm our commitment to one another. Every such act makes a stand against violence and fear.

       

In a diverse city one thing we can be sure of is that people in Manchester will not let this event divide us.

       

Manchester is the home of a movement called We Stand Together (#WeStandTogether), in which people of many different faiths and backgrounds recognise that we find strength in our common humanity.

       

We are deeply grateful for the many assurances of prayer which we have received from around the country.

       

God of compassion and mercy,
amidst the pain and trauma of this day we turn to you,
for through Christ crucified we know that you have taken to heart the suffering of our people.

       

In fear and anxiety, strengthen us.
In despair and pain, comfort us.
In incomprehension and anger, reassure us that your love and life are stronger than the hatred and violence which overshadows our city today.

Console those who carry a burden of loss, injury, or trauma and empower all who support them.
Strengthen all who seek to stand together in peace and unity.   

We pray in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

From Tim Annan, Youth President of the Methodist Church:

It’s hard to look at the images and stories coming out of Manchester today and not feel rage at this horrific act of violence against people; all of whom were just going to live life to its fullest.

Lives have been irreconcilably changed last night. An empty seat at the table. A smile and warm embrace; now missing. We stand with all those who grieve this morning, in our thoughts and prayers. Holding the pain with the anger.

Yet, in the face of the anger, confusion and grief, the response of the people of Manchester was love and compassion. From the emergency services responding quickly and effectively, to the many people who opened up their homes to those who needed a place to stay, to cab drivers transporting distraught people for free to a place to rest. Even at the darkest moment, humanity, compassion and hope shone through.

Beautiful and terrible things will happen, but don’t give in to anger or fear. Know that you are surrounded by God’s love.

Click HERE for the Pastoral letter from the Secretary of Conference

Just as I posted the above, Pinterest sent the below to me, I share it with you:

Prayer station: Peace

Elephants of Surprise in Bristol Shopping Quarter over Easter

 

How do you hide a herd of elephants in Bristol Shopping Quarter? You get the retailers to help – and over the school Easter holidays 40 shops in Broadmead and The Galleries will host a unique and beautifully decorated elephant.

The hefty herd is currently being decorated in schools across Bristol and South Gloucestershire in readiness for the annual event, now in its sixth year and featuring a different beast each time.

Trail organiser, Jenny Bourne of The Ark Project, says: “The Elephant Trail is a great way of keeping your children entertained during the school holidays. It starts on Saturday 8 April, and free trail maps can be collected from The New Room, John Wesley’s Chapel on The Horsefair as well as from the information desk in Cabot Circus, Specsavers in Merchant Street, and Barber Brown on Bond Street. You can also download a copy HERE.

“The idea is to find each of the elephants and write their names in the grid on the back of the map. When all the elephants have been ticked off and named, children can take their completed map to The New Room and claim a chocolate reward.”

The theme for this year’s trail is ‘Memorable Moments’ because elephants never forget, with each elephant being named after a different well-known person.

Jenny adds: “The people who inspired our elephants’ names range from famous Bristolians, past and present, to international celebrities. What they all have in common is that they followed their beliefs and passion to achieve something amazing”.

“Many of these people had no idea of the legacy they would leave behind because of their moment in history. It is a reminder to us all that we all have the capacity to do amazing things and that we can all make a difference in a moment.”

Last year’s Zebra Trail attracted over 800 visitors to The New Room. This year the chapel, tucked away in the heart of Broadmead, will play host to the entire collection for a further week at the end of the school holidays (24-30 April) to give people an opportunity to see the herd displayed together.

The New Room will also be offering other great activities throughout the Easter holidays, including inviting visitors – young and old alike – to draw a memorable moment to add to the ‘Memory Wall’, and to help make bunting for the grand opening in July of its new education centre.

The Galleries will also host jungle themed events on Saturday 8 and Thursday 20 April and Cabot Circus are joining in the fun too, playing host to a giant colouring-in elephant throughout the holidays and transforming the Central Space outside House of Fraser into an exciting jungle world on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 April when families can expect free jungle-themed activities such as mask decorating and games, led by their very own jungle ranger.

The Ark Project is part of The Bristol and South Gloucestershire Methodist Circuit that runs out of two converted VW vans and supports both local Methodist Churches and community events across Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

Further information and updates on The Elephant Trail are available at www.facebook.com/TheArkBus. For more details on events at The New Room see http://www.newroombristol.org.uk/

Shrove Tuesday

Lent starts on Tuesday, so whilst you get the frying pans out a prayer for the day:

A prayer for Shrove Tuesday

I go to the store cupboard
looking for eggs and
memories.
They need to be broken and
beaten,
blended with flour,
left to stand.

I heat a pan, hot,
very hot.
The batter spreads thin
and quickly browns
at the edges.
Choosing the moment I
make my move:
toss it, flip it, turn it over,
deftly.

A few more seconds
and it is done.
Sugared and soured, it is
ready for the feast . . . 

that initiates the fast.
The long, slow,
rambling fast, the
wilderness fast,
the map-less fast where no
recollection can find the way ahead.

All the more reason, then, to
travel light
to leave my bags
at the station,
to lose my property,
to empty the pantry of its
tinned regrets, its
bottled remorse, its
mildewed mass of mistakes.

No point curating this lot,
or carting it about any more.
Let me throw it all away,
deftly.

From ‘Feast’ by Stephen Cherry, Barefoot Prayers
Copyright © Stephen Cherry 2013

Resources for Lent

As we continue to journey through Epiphany, Churches are beginning to think about Lent.

Some Resources below

A RESOURCE FOR LENT: HOLINESS AND JUSTICEImage may contain: text

As Christmas ends and we journey towards Lent here are resources you
may wish to use in Lent. And for the super-efficient who have programmes planned, worry not, these resources can be used at other times too.

The DLMN have had permission to use material from Roger Walton, Rachel Lampard and Ric Stott based on this Connexional year’s Presidential theme of Holiness andJustice. The DLMN team are producing a five week small group resource to explore the theme. The resource will be made available as free downloads and will comprise material for 5 -7 sessions exploring four pictures of what a Church of Holiness and justice might look like, and (the fifth session) six steps to seeing that picture emerge more fully. The materials will include;
• Notes for leaders and group members including; bible study material, prayers, narrative from Roger and Rachel and questions for discussion.

CLICK on each session below to download

 Booklet

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4

Session 5

Session 6

Session 7

holiness-and-justice Images 

——————-

Stations of the Cross

ClickHERE to view Stations of the Cross including video clips and ideas.

 

Other Resources

  • 50 days to let your life speak         Click:       HERE
  • Ideas from Christian Aid 2017       Click:       HERE
  • 40 Acts for Lent                                 Click:       HERE
  • From HOPE 2017                                Click:       HERE
  • Holy Week Lego Challenge             Click:       HERE
  • 20 films for Lent                                 Click:       HERE  
  •  Prayer Stations                                  Click:       HERE
  • Plastic Easter Egg surprise             Click:       HERE

 

Bible Studies

  • Cover to Cover  Study books            Click:     HERE
  • Churches Together Lent Course     Click:     HERE    
  • York Course for Lent 2017                 Click:     HERE
  •  The Nail by Stephen Cottrell; – SPCK – Stephen Cottrell
    This Lent book offers imaginative reflections on Christ’s crucifixion. Each of the seven chapters is focused on a different key character, who describes his or her experience of the Passion. The nails used to crucify Christ are used as a jumping off point for their reflections. Each character considers the questions, ‘who killed Christ’ and ‘who was responsible’ Each chapter includes a Biblical passage, a meditative hymn, a reflection from the point of view of the character, and a short prayer. The book finishes with practical suggestions on how it can be used as a Lent study course.

 

A PASSION FOR YOUR COMMUNITY

ONE FRIDAY can help you to do something exciting in 2017; something unique and public that will engage your community in re-telling the story of the Passion of Jesus.

ONE FRIDAY CHALLENGE

To keep the story of Jesus alive we need to find new ways of telling it in public places.

For more Information and free resources about how your church can get involved         Click:  HERE

LENT IN A BAG

lent-in-a-bag

An All Age activity that you can do at church or at home to teach symbols and meanings of the  season of Lent. A simple bag and basic objects that can be used for each of the 4 weeks of lent. Click:  HERE to find out more

HOLY WEEK IN A BOX

Image result for Holy week in a box

Holy Week in a Box uses simple objects tucked into a small box, along with scripture, to tell the story of Holy Week. Each item in the box is a symbol, representing a piece of the gospel narrative: from Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, through the Last Supper, betrayal, burial, and finally the empty tomb on Easter morning.                                                      Click: HERE to find out more.

SIMPLE IDEAS

Easter Wreath

easter-wreath

Lent Candle

lent-candle

Good Friday (tiles) Cross

dscn2197

Easter Sunday Cross

s8303812

 

New Year and Covenant Sunday

magi
Wise men seeking Jesus

As we start another New Year, thank you to those who have been following this blog during the last 12 months. I hope you have found some of the resources helpful.

The New Year is marked in many churches by holding a Covenant Service, for more details about this see last years January blog entry click HERE.

Below are some useful resources for Preachers and Worship Leaders, Housegroups to reflect on what the Covenant  service is about.

 

Covenant Service Liturgy                              Click  HERE                                                             (please note Copyright restrictions)

A Brief Guide to the Covenant Service     Click:  HERE

Covenant Service Study Material               Click:  HERE

Covenant Prayer YouTube Doodle              Click:   HERE

covenant-card