Today, I’m going to ………..

Whats your ambition for today ? For some it will be to earn as much as possible, for others to be as happy (by whatever means) as possible. Some will say its another day, another chance to convert someone. For some it will simply be to get through yet another day, or to find enough food to eat; for our street folk it may be to find a safe shelter for the night. Its different for all of us, but……………. there is a lesson to be learnt.

Jesus said “Love your neighbour………..” (Luke 10:27) but how do we love those who bully us, those who belittle us, those with whom we struggle. Its hard but there needs to be a degree of intentionality about it.

I’m simply reflecting on my granddaughter who upon starting a new school year in a new class declared on her first day “I’m going to make a new friend today” and by the end of the day she had ! (whether the other girl wanted it or not). I watch her in a playground and I also watch her little brother. They welcome others into their group, not noticing those things of adults which distinguish people. They don’t see race, colour, sexuality, gender, religion. All that they see is someone to be friends with, and I’m proud of them for that.

Sadly, in the Church as well as in society we label people and put them into boxes, only liking certain folk and sometimes being prejudiced against others who are ‘different’ to us.

So I warm to my Granddaughters determination, “Today I’m going to make a new friend” and I ask myself how much richer would life be if we all had a similar outlook. I pray that as she and her brother get older that it will continue to be their outlook.

CHALLENGE. Are you going to aim to make a new friend today, forgive someone, attempt to understand them and above all else love them as Jesus does ?

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30 years +

Eric has travelled with me for over 25 years now

I write this on the morning of 1 September 2021, waking up to a brand new Methodist year and realising it is my 30th year as a Methodist Presbyter. Indeed it is the start of my 18th year as a Superintendent.

As I look back I can’t help but wonder where the years have gone. I remember in my first appointment a new Presbyter joined the staff and when asked to tell us about himself the man who was to become a good friend (Nigel Fox) said he’d been in the Ministry for 11 years. That long……. I thought. I’ll never last that long but here I am preparing for retirement in a few years time.

it’s been, in the main, 30 good years beginning 8n Oldham before moving to the East Midlands, to the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border and the Erewash Valley Circuit where I worked as Evangelism enabler for a while. After that I moved to Ripley as Superintendent and then back to the border with the newly created Borders Mission Circuit, centering on Alfreton and Sutton-in-Ashfield. I then moved to the newly formed Trent and Dove circuit and have recently been involved in merging them into yet another new circuit with South Derbyshire to create the East Staffordshire and South Derbyshire circuit.

During this time I’ve led Share Jesus missions around the country, evangelism training, worked with terrific friends in Romania, Mission Shaped Ministry training, cafe Churches, taken folk to Spring Harvest and also to what was then Easter People. There’s so much more AND I’m worn out !!
My latte is half drunk in effect.

Latte, half-full


half-empty ?


I’m not done yet.

The generosity and vision of this Circuit leadership team is amazing. I’ve long held a belief in the Fresh Expressions movement, and a strong belief in how the proclam ation of the Gospel needs not only to be relevant to today but shared in a way that draws people in so that they may develop a relationship with Jesus.

Consequently, when a Church building became redundant they allowed me to begin exploring the possibility of a long held vision I have had to reach out to the local community using the broad umbrella of the arts. This may include theatre, art exhibitions, lectures, all centred on the vision of introducing people to Christian spirituality and ultimately Jesus. The concept of the arts church was accepted at the June Circuit meeting and I currently await permission from the next meeting in September to be given my final years in Ministry to ‘give it a go’. Technically, if I get that permission the work will begin next September but as time is of the essence I’ve started work already with planning and pulling a team together.

It is for this reason that I’ve entitled this entry as 30 + years as Ministry is far from over and indeed I feel as though my coffee cup has been refilled. I’m excited (& daunted) by the future; it may or may not work out, who knows, but as I did right at the beginning of my Ministry I’m trusting in God to lead me, to create the right team around me and to open the doors He wants to open. Already opportunities have appeared, and from unexpected sources so I can only conclude that God has started to open doors. Please pray they don’t shut.

If anyone wants a copy of my vision document please let me know and I’ll be happy to send it, but most importantly please pray that these years of active Ministry, before I ‘sit down’, are fruitful for the Kingdom

“Ey up, Boss man”

These were the words I used to enjoy hearing from the lady I called “the deaf gobby one”. I first met Chris in 2004 when I was considering an invitation to the circuit that her Church was in. We hit it off immediately and whilst she called me “boss man” I always knew who was really in charge. Chris passed away this week and although I haven’t been her Minister for 10 years + we retained a friendship after I left. Chris was my ‘go to’ person for support, for advice and both were honestly (and often loudly) given.

Sometimes in life we just want folk to see things our way; to give us the answers that suit us but life doesn’t work out that way. I always knew where I stood with Chris because her views were always given but never with a desire to have her own way and certainly not with an intention to hurt. And that is friendship.

Some folk associate friendship with simple agreement and the moment a friend disagrees there is fallout. I believe that true friendship is where there can be disagreements but not a falling out; where there is an honest exchange of views but not hurtful; where opposing concepts, ideas, and visions can be developed between people. I had that with Chris, as I have had with others throughout my Ministry and sometimes that support and sharing can come from surprising sources. If I only sought out those who were ‘yes-people’ I would never grow, develop and journey in my faith for its when others have presented alternative ideas to me that I’ve been able to see things differently.

Whats your vision for your direction in life ? Currently for me its exploring the notion of an arts based Church and already I have folk in my current circuit who are challenging my ideas with the detail I’m not good at and what have I found ? The idea has expanded to include the possibility of an online, streaming studio, a performance area, an exhibition gallery and so much more. At the heart of it will be a cafe Church to explore faith. The important thing is not to surround yourself not simply with people who are going to agree with you endlessly, but to have the quality of friends who will question, challenge and point out difficulties but who will remain with you should the vision now work out.

Who are you surrounding yourself with ? Is it people who care enough for you to stop you going down the wrong road, but who will still walk with you when you return with your tail between your legs ? Growth is alongside those who will encourage you to flourish not those who would put you down and discourage.

What are you doing for others ? In life there are those who simply take and seek to squeeze everything from you that benefits them, and there are those who seek the best for you and enhance your life. the famous book by Charles Kingsley “the water babies” has a character called Mrs-do-as-you-would-be done by and it challenges us into treating others as we would hope they would treat us. I believe that in order to reap the benefits of good friendships we need to be people who are good friends in the first place. People are attracted to others who not only speak of respect, tolerance, loyalty, patience, and who look for the best in others and in the world. In other words if we treat others in the way we hope they would treat us, then like-minded folk are attracted to us.

Chris was such a person; I will miss her but Im pretty sure that when I arrive at the pearly gates there’ll be a voice shouting loudly “Ey up Boss Man” and I’ll reply “how do, my deaf, gobby one, my friend

Value your friends, choose them wisely and ensure that you treat them well


Today I started leading a weekly 15 minute thought for the day via Facebook live in order to encourage and challenge many of my circuit Facebook folk. Every Wednesday I intend doing this at 9.30 am but how should I start ?

Well,, given that I sat, dozed and fitfully slept into the early hours watching the American election coverage I was struck by one commentator who declared “we need a leader” to truly make his mark on the election, it seemed to me to beg the question “what is a leader ?”

A few thoughts……… Firstly a good leader should be one who communicates, tell as the narrative which explains who they are. Jesus was a great story-teller; his parables have stood the test of time and they still convey truth today.

Secondly, a leader ought to be someone who sees themselves as a servant; someone who sees others through the eyes of wanting the best for them and being prepared to humble themselves to achieve it. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and expected the same of them. They must have even astounded when the one they looked up to knelt down to wash the dirt and grime from their feet.

Thirdly, one who aspires to lead must care for others and even for those who oppose them. Some would want to argue that Jesus must’ve hated the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law; after all he reserve d some very harsh words for them calling them “a nest of vipers” and “whitewashed sepulchres”, but I don’t think he truly hated. After all as God he created them: no I think he would’ve hated their attitudes but not them. When you think about he agreed to meet Nicodemus, a Pharisee, and many think that it was Joseph of Arimathea who gave the tomb for Jesus, not the actions of a man who had maybe received hatred.

No Jesus still bore love for all people and was saddened when they chose not to follow, “Jesus wept”

Fourthly, leaders are people convinced of their mission. They know what they want and strive for it setting the standard for others to follow. Again Jesus stands as the model leader, determined to show the world a better way of living, to set the standard for moral and ethical living and by showing this leadership preventing his followers from destroying their own lives. In other words when Jesus said he’d come to “bring life 8n all its fullness” he was leading his listeners into the lives Gods created us for.

The American election shows us one thing as does our own political system: the only leader truly worth investing in is Jesus.
Who are you following this week ? Political parties, sports stars, media personalities or are you truly putting your trust in our Lord and Saviour ?

Where is the Church ?

Why is this bag so important ? A straightforward, paper carrier bag, seemingly ordinary and sitting on my car seat this afternoon.

Before I answer that question a little bit of context to my thinking. As the lockdown has continued over the months I discover more and more people are tiring. Within the country there seems to be less and less patience between folk, more intolerance, more frustration and confusion over the rules; are they guidelines or are they law ?

Those of us within the Church are experiencing the same thing; some folk thinking the Church should be back, others saying its too soon, some folk thinking that God is above Covid and therefore we should all be alright. Some folk thinking that Zoom worship is a part of the Church hierarchy’s determination to close the church down or that clergy are using it to avoid ‘real’ work. The very strong need to sing hymns, receive Communion and be a part of a fellowship are real issues that are bouncing around Church circles at the moment. Its brought with it feelings of frustration, isolation, strong opinions often based on want and desire rather than on theology etc,

The cry that the Church has closed down is extremely strong in some quarters (Interestingly in some cases from non-churchgoers)

Photo by Rene Asmussen on

The accusation, so often, seems to be that because the Building isn’t open On a Sunday, or because we’re using electronic means then it isn’t proper Church.

So what’s this to do with an ordinary paper bag on the front seat of my car ? A perfectly reasonable question I think and perhaps it ties in with the question “what is worship, true worship ?” For many worship has always Been the hour on a Sunday, filled with hymns (as long as they’re ones we like) or prayers (but not too long) or sermons (again not too long) or fellowship (but only with folk we like or who agree with us). In other words we’ve created a worship of ourselves. It’s what we like, what we enjoy and God should fit in with us. Now, that’s very harsh and is a real sweeping generalisation I acknowledge; however if it’s not true it’s certainly a danger into which we all fall from time to time.

Is it what Jesus envisaged when he challenged the disciples and said to Peter “upon this rock I shall build my Church”. Did he really desire the Methodist 5 hymn sandwich, the Anglican liturgy, the bells and smells of ‘high’ church or was he referring to a community ?

Photo by Mahrael Boutros on

I believe that he was talking of community, of fellowship built on the model of Christ himself, of sacrifice of self in favour of others, of finding ways to help others receive the rich blessings of creation.

The picture alongside is of a lady I don’t know but I dare say the tattoos, the dark make-up, the mode of dress and the ‘spaced out’ look will offend some of us. However Jesus would be reaching out, loving and receiving, not judging. Maybe we’ve been getting it wrong for too long.

Maybe your impatience is getting the better of you and you’re still wondering (if you’re still reading), why a paper bag.

Well part of the routine for some of the folk from Churches together in Swadlincote is to spend Fridays serving the community. Alison joins a team of folk, Lay and Ordained, who spend a few hours cooking hot meals. I then join a team of drivers delivering the meals throughout the area, feeding those who for whatever reason have been referred to the project. All socially distanced, masked and within current guidelines. Today I’ve received smiles, expressions of gratitude from the people behind the doors of the houses I’ve visited, and a sense of serving others.

The ordinary, brown, paper carrier bag, to me, has become Symbolic of the Church in action. Where is God in this pandemic ? He’s in the action of his followers up and down the country carrying out incredibly important community work of loving and caring. To quote the famous 1960’s reference to Elvis Presley…… God has left the building. He’s at work electronically, in phone calls, in acts of worship on bits of paper, on TV Songs of Praise or radio recordings of worship, but his army of followers are galvanised to act in the way Jesus would have us act.

it’s why my friends Alex and Heather went to Romania to help, my friend Nigel who seeks to help migrants and especially those in Calais refugee camp, my friend Noreen who founded the Burton Addiction Centre, the staff and workers at Burton YMCA and many other places; it’s why I’ll be sleeping out in 5 weeks time for the homeless. Why Alison, others and I will continue to do what we can with a simple brown paper bag. Feeding those who need help.

WHY ? Because Jesus loved and goes on loving people.
The fire of the Holy Spirit burns on………..

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Sleep out, so that others don’t have to……

My 8th year of taking part in the annual Burton ymca sleepout to help them in their precious work will be Very different. Previously I’ve slept at the Pirelli football stadium in a cardboard box, in a local Church graveyard in a VERY soggy cardboard box, and in the YMCA village at the Pirelli in my one person tent. This year, because of Covid it’s being billed as a virtual sleep-out and so I’ll be sleeping in my garden (no cardboard box 🙁, but in my tent. I’ve just checked my sleepout total and I see that after two weeks I’ve only raised £51+ for Burton YMCA. Looks like it might be a low year 😢 but I Can understand that this year especially money may be tight so I ask that if you can’t give please pray for the event on November 6th when I’ll be sleeping out in my garden.

The link still remains as ………



What or who has Shaped your life ? I’m sure that, like me, you will be able to name someone or something that so profoundly influenced you that your thinking or your lifestyle changed.

i remember the Enniskillen bombing, by the IRA, of a Remembrance Sunday parade in 1987. Most of my generation or older will recall the story of Gordon Wilson holding his daughter’s hand as they lay beneath the rubble of the explosion that would kill her and others.

It was only a few hours after the bombing that Gordon Wilson declared he forgave the terrorists, pray for them and asked that no one should seek revenge. “That”, he said, “will not bring her back.”

Apparently after the interview he and his wife, Jean, received many letters of support but also letters from folk who couldn’t understand his thinking and he even received letters condemning him for following the instruction of Jesus, (Matthew 18:21-22) of whom he was a dedicated follower. As a result, though, many Protestants and Catholic’s reached out to each other, avoiding bitterness and hatred Not only in Enniskillen but across the country. Even though the loss of his daughter, Marie, broke the lives of Gordon and Jean Wilson I’m reminded that it didn’t break their resolve to forgive.

i remember this vividly, as a young father of two girls (aged under 2 and under 1 years) thinking “how can he do that ?” At this point I’d been preaching several years, I’d led at least one mission in a different Church and yet I hadn’t taken the instruction from Jesus to heart. Why, ?

Because forgiveness is hard.

it involves deep hurt, anger at injustice, personal feelings: it can stir up past pain and memories and so much more………………if we let it !

Trouble is that not to forgive doesn’t take away any of those feelings but allows them to continue to fester and eat away at us. Resentment, revenge become the focal point for the shaping of our life. At the moment I’m sitting writing this at 6.00 am in a quiet room after a few days away with Alison and so I could be accused of whitewashing the whole subject of oversimplifying it all, but I return you to how I began this article. Who or what has shaped your life and it’s direction ? For me a major player in this (amongst many others) has been the story of Gordon Wilson. I learnt a lesson that day, reinforced many times since, that forgiveness is the way forward.

Like everyone else I get it so terribly wrong and I want others to feel my anger, my pain; I declare that I won’t speak again, take them off my Facebook/Twitter list, or on occasions pray to God imploring Him to “sort them out”.

However God keeps drawing me back to the Jesus I follow, who as he hung on the cross declared of his accusers and their lies, of those who had hammered in the nails and of those who had jeered “Father, forgive them; they know not what they’re doing”.    How can my perceived hurt compare to the one hanging there, the one on whose life I profess to model mine.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that forgiveness is all there is to it. Throughout the rest of his life, Gordon Wilson worked hard to bring reconciliation between people in Northern Ireland and when he came face to face with the terrorists they apparently apologised for killing Marie. However when he asked them to stop bombing and shooting, they refused. They too declared themselves followers of religion and here lies a distinction, between an organised institution (which we would call denomination, Catholic, Protestant etc” or the modelling of our lives on the one who gives direction, purpose, meaning to our lives.

Today, tomorrow, next week we’re all going to face situations where we have a choice over forgiveness: to forgive will hurt us (as did the nails for Jesus) but in the long run will bring peace and reconciliation in our lives.



Tradition or Ash worshipping ?

Whilst I’ve been in hospital and then at home I seem to have done a lot of reading and program watching. Of the latter I have followed a program about the Principality of Monaco, its lifestyle and riches etc.

A quote was made that intrigued me, by Princess Caroline of Monaco. She said (based on the subject of culture), “Tradition is the transmission of fire and not worshipping of ashes”. In my mind I keep returning to this quote and it has really set me thinking within the context of life and in particular the Church.

Why do we keep doing the same things over and over again and hide it behind the excuse of ‘tradition’ ? Probably a wide variety of reasons; comfortability, lack of imagination, habit, a genuine belief thats its the only way. I suggest that all of these reasons are involved and no doubt many more that I haven’t thought of.

Perhaps another question that we need to ask ourselves is why we don’t seem to like change and again the answers would be similar but this time we might add in reasons such as being out of control, uncertainty, fear of going wrong or of lack of success etc.

I was in the second year group of students when I was at college as our particular college had only begun in the previous year with 4 students and then 5 more (our year) were added.As we approached my first February in college one of the first group said that it was a college tradition for a first year to buy single red roses for every girl in the college (5) and I was deputised to do this. I can still remember standing in the florists in a black clerical shirt asking for 5 single red roses, individually wrapped, and adding to the potential scandal by saying “oh, and I’d better get one for my wife as well !” In my rush to carry out a college tradition I didn’t stop to think that it had only been ‘a tradition’ by one year and nor did I stop to think about its purpose. I was simply determined to carry out the tradition.

Sadly, we can be like that in Church life and it leads to splits straight down the middle taking away the beauty and potential for growth with the Church of Jesus, unless there can be graciousness and magnanimity between believers. As I look around often Churchmanship (styles, ways of doing things, instruments, hymns) depend on our own personal likes and dislikes. As a young Minister (and I was once) faith could be easily divided between evangelicals, charismatics, conservative Christians; between whether you liked guitars or organ playing, clapping or not, reflective or loud pumping dance music; your faith depended upon your taste in music. Rarely does it emerge out of a deeply held theology, in my view.

So how’re we to hod it all together, especially at a time like this when the covid-19 and lockdown seem to have conspired to create such tensions that folk are beginning to take sides ? “Lets get back to Church” say some while others are saying “Gods not only in a building”. Some are saying “we need communion” whilst others are saying “why ? surely every meal shared with and in remembrance of Jesus is communion in itself. Some are saying what about our good Methodist traditions such as “hymn singing”, coffee after fellowship and endless meetings/talking shops. At the moment many in Church life are fraught with the tension of how to move forward in this time of crisis.

Surely the way forward has to involve various things: Firstly it has to involve a recognition that all may have a valid point of view and no one should bully others into their way of thinking. Secondly, we are in a time of unprecedented crisis in the world and in the Church. No one was trained for this time and so some decisions will be right and some wrong, we’ll agree with those that suit us (or our preconceived ideas) and disagree with those that don’t–learn to live graciously with them.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on

Thirdly, and most importantly we must seek Jesus as our model and our way forward. You see, to my mind, simply doing what we have always done and declaring it to be tradition is often (note I say often, not always) acting without thought, and an avoidance of truly seeking the will of Jesus. This is an important point as Jesus is just as powerfully at work in Catholic traditions as he is at work in protestant traditions etc. Its neither one nor the other but its about finding Jesus as the driving force within it. When tradition is simply continuing what we’ve always done then its like worshipping the ashes in a burnt-out BBQ. They can’t be relit, no matter how much we’d like them to be, they’re gone so why hang onto them. I much prefer the idea of tradition being like the fire that raged on Pentecost, that rages today, and the passing on of that fire, the fire of the Holy Spirit herself

We need to recapture that fire and let it take us to where God wants us and his Church to be, instead of hanging onto the pre Covid ashes, but of course the big question remains………. HOW ? how can we move on when many are simply wanting to get back to the comfortability of tradition or the security of the walls within which they’ve always worshipped, avoiding the fear of stepping out into the unknown. Simply one way. In the words of the old Gospel hymn “put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water, put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea”

Are you seeking the hand of the one who pulled Peter from the waters and brought him to the safety of the boat ?

Are you worshipping tradition with all is fire and heat or are you simply blowing on the embers of the dying flame ?

Grumpy old man (?)

Rocking the lockdown look !
 The t-shirt says Grumpy and Alison and I had a great day earlier this week when we were able to go and visit the FoxCubs (our grandchildren who we love dearly). As most of you know we used to spend our weekly day off looking after them, but we have missed their exuberance, enthusiasm, Pipers constant impression of a whirlwind and Emetts snuggles.

Now that certain aspects of lockdown are beginning to life we felt able to go across to see them, take the cubs out for half the day and give Mum and Dad a rest. Mums working from home so she could work in peace and Dad cracked on with getting the garden sorted where he’s doing a great job.

We had a lovely, exciting and certainly tiring afternoon at the local playground known as Pirate Park. Why am I sharing this ? Simply because we, like so many others, feel a certain completeness when we are with other people. Yes, some are very happy with their own company but most of us need that occasional contact with folk around us; families, friends, even relative strangers. This is one of the reasons that Social Media has taken off so successfully. Facebook, Twitter, Tic-Toc all key into our need for connectedness. I agree that much of it is rubbish, but its rubbish that connects us. Those that we are closest to aren’t simply there for our deep intellectual, theological or philosophical thinking. Its not academia or our IQ that holds us close. In all of humanity more conversation is about the silly, ordinary things of life for they are what matters to us. It is, however, also a forum where bigger topics can be shared and views aired, but I find that these inevitably generate a lot of heat and sadly abuse.

So, what does our current Covid-19 situation show us for we should all be wanting to learn throughout our life ? Well, its reminded me of the need to be with people and for that I give thanks for platforms like Zoom, Facebook, Twitter and so on. Life has become so dependent upon electronic connection; its not the same as being ‘with’ someone, a hug, a kiss, a handshake, but it gives us the chance to see a face and be reminded we are as one. Even as I type this I’m listening to evening prayers by a friend of mine Revd. Sally Coleman who leads prayers and reflections every evening through Facebook. They’ve challenged me and led me through this, but its Sallys generosity that has created them.

Covid-19 has taught me about the beauty of the world as I’ve been able to have the time I don’t always have, to go our for a walk. Simple pleasures which remind me of Gods creativity………. seeing the colours of the flowers, feeling the gentle warmth of the rain, watching

the Burton swans in a variety of places, seeing the cygnets and loving the peace that they bring. I have been reminded of the God who, as Genesis reminds us, created this world around us but also created us as well to be a part of this beauty. I have been reminded of the God who has made me (and all of us) in his own image. AWESOME !

I have been reminded of the creativity of the good Methodism folk who are seeking new ways of being Church, and not only electronically. the creation of a possible theatre based church,  a missional platform based around allotments, the helpfulness of neighbours and the kindness of the stranger seem to have broken out all around the world. Alisons Church involving itself in feeding those who cannot make their own meals for whatever reason, and serving those without through the food bank. Sadly, overshadowed by the bad news of riots, selfishness on beaches, conspiracy theories surrounding the virus and who initiated it (!), but nevertheless our Christian faith reminds us that “God wins” and his will be done.

AND now we begin to explore going back to Church; we’re exploring the logistics of how this could happen, social distancing, hand sanitisers, masks, cleaning of the building before and after worship, the maximum numbers who could attend, and the denial of drinks afterwards. We’re walking a necessary minefield but my prayer in all of this is that we don’t lose sight of the important things that God has spoken to us about, and I pray that we continue to seek out new ways of being Church.

Oh, and one more thing that this period has given me; impatience with any desire to simply return to what we had before, endless, pointless meetings refusal to be risk takers for the one who came out of Heaven and took a huge risk for us, Through the lockdown I’m aware that I’ve become grumpier and grumpier but hopefully only because my love and desire to see the world through Gods eyes continues to increase.

Take care, pray for your leaders, and pray that I may continue to be grumpy for God !!

Lockdown feelings

Now that we’ve reached this stage of the lockdown I realise that I’ve struggled for the last few weeks.

Now, don’t worry this isn’t a moan or a rant, but hopefully just an honest reflection of where I am, because if I can’t be honest with myself then I’m not being honest with God either.

And for several weeks now I don’t think I’ve been totally honest. When well-meaning folk have asked “How are you ?” I’ve responded in a way that too many folk respond and I’ve replied “oh, I’m fine Thankyou” when inwardly I’ve Wanted to say “no, I’m not fine, I feel rubbish”. I’m struggling with honesty at the moment, because I’m trying to be upbeat for everyone else and it’s hard not to be honest.

I know I’m not unique in this And part of my reason for getting this into the blog is the hope that by being honest will help someone else to be honest also.

In general i’m finding myself listless, quite often tired and without energy; some days when the sheer abundance of ‘down’ thoughts overwhelm I struggle to focus on things which adds to the constant feeling of guilt and the ever increasing desire to retire.

I’m not in depression, but simply low on more days than usual. Why ? I think like many the lockdown isolation has tugged away at my happiness and taken the edge off things. Alison and I were reflecting the other day and we agreed that she’s coping much better than me because she’s content with her own company. By contrast I’m a people person, who enjoys the crowd, working the room in a coffee morning, shaking hands and smiling with folk. I’m a performer by nature and love having people around me. Consequently at a time like this when my only social interaction with others (apart from Alison) is predominantly by electronic means I feel the loss of hugging, touching, bonding. I think also having to do everything electronically has added to the workload in a strange way. As most know we’re bringing together two circuits to start on 1st September, and all of the paperwork and legalities feel much more slow moving; As Superintendent I find myself resentful of the four month I’ve lost getting to know the South Derbyshire Circuit; I’ve also found stressful being the person many seem to look to for answers in this unusual season, and especially the current question of “when can we reopen?” Ive even faced the accusation of being a dictator for closing the churches (not the government or even the virus) as apparently I was the one who did it 🤷🏻. We’ve lost our holiday to Oberammergau, to see the passion play, and instead had a holiday at home visiting the local garden centres ! Added to this I’ve been worrying about my brothers health (and others), he has a dodgy knee. Alongside the knowledge that he has carried the bulk of the load of selling Dads house, which adds to guilt. Andrew really has been brilliant and I look up to him so much.

And yet even in my low moments there’s so much to be grateful for; I hadn’t been looking forward to Fathers Day this year, but I had the knowledge that I had something which some never have the privilege of being able to say. My brother and I have had two wonderful parents. That thought helped me on that day but alongside it came the Remembrance of a young man experiencing his very first Fathers Day. Over the years I’ve regarded Gareth as like a Godson to me (or a son, in some ways) and this year he’s learnt what it’s like to be a Dad. I enjoyed the day because of the love of my own daughters and the joy of Gareth, Charlotte and Brooke.


Today I received a card which lifted and encouraged me. A card with a picture of lilac on it. It came from an unexpected source; a lady I’ve known now for 24 years. inside she simply wrote words of encouragement and spoke of how she hoped this card would be my hug and some TLC.

 I have to tell you, it lifted my spirits no end. She recognised that I have my own support network of friends and family but hoped the card would be a further source of support, and it has been.

So, to all going through this pandemic with its low moments, it’s worries for further outbreaks, the loneliness of isolation and shielding, I just want to say God is in it with us in so many surprising ways.

Yesterday, I was a part of an online Bible Study group which looked at the 23rd Psalm and I was reminded of words that have carried people of faith throughout the ages. “The Lords my Shepherd, I’ll not want” (vs 1),  “even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Vs 4), “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever” (vs 6).


i know that this pandemic will be overcome one day (although I grieve over the loss of lives) and we’ll truly see again how Gods working, so I’m not depressed and simply hoping that this will give at least one person the courage to say “actually I’m struggling” and then allow themselves to see their support network of friends, family and ultimately of God.

                  God bless you, keep safe, keep alert and keep trusting God.