International Peace Day

Painting by children, International Peace Day ...
Image via Wikipedia

Remember today to pray for peace across the world and in our own hearts and minds.

 Perhaps as you look at the picture of children painting on last years peace day on Geneva, you might want to reflect on how a lack of peace will affect these children and subsequent generations.

Peace ?

Crich Stand
Image via Wikipedia

I write this from the study of my former Manse in Ripley, in which I’m still living as I await the move to our new Manse in Blackwell, Confused ?

It’s a simple explanation. The purchase of the new Manse fell through and so delayed the expected move from Ripley. The Amber Valley Circuit have been wonderful in allowing me to stay here until we can move. I thank them for their generosity. However, the fact that I have changed jobs into a new area but remained living in a house owned by someone else has left me somewhat disenfranchised. I don’t yet feel as though I belong anywhere and Alison and I feel uneasy about it.                                                                                                      Crich Stand (memorial)

Today (Sept 21st) is also International Peace Day; a day in which we all pray and hope for peace across the world. A day of remembering everything across the world that has brought suffering and hardship to people and a day which reminds us of the ongoing need for reconciliation between all aspects of humanity.

Why do I mention these two things ? Why have I linked my move and International Peace Day together ? Simply because I am acutely aware that when we pray for peace, so often we’re thinking about foreign conflicts when peace is often needed at home as well. Families torn apart by relationships that are less than harmonious, bickering between neighbours, anxieties over finance, jobs, illness and so on. All these things and more make us ill at ease and can easily build up to bring long-term harm to us and others.

Whilst my frustration and impatience is nothing compared to the horrors of Afghanistan, nor the fear of cancer, it is nevertheless still a cause for concern. I count myself privileged to have a Saviour with whom I can share this frustration and anxiousness. The old hymn “What a Friend we have in Jesus” reminds us to take everything to him in prayer. It may sound simplistic and naïve but I have found that it is usually when I turn to Him that true peace is found even though the situation may not have been resolved.

So how do I turn to Him ? In my times of prayer, worship and quietness. In my times spent sharing any anxiety with close friends and with Alison my wife especially. Jesus speaks in the quietness and also through the wisdom and counsel of others.

True peace is not the absence of conflict, nor is it the absence of worry. True peace is only found when things can be shared with a true friend, and for me that true friend is and always will be Jesus.

I pray that today you will find that peace.


This has to be one of the wisest and most gracious statements I have ever come across. From the United Methodist Church Council of Bishops in the run up to the September 11th commemoration of the Twin Towers act of terrorism. In the light of the vitriol and hatred being spoken of across the world their response is Biblical and Christlike enough to inspire many of us on our journey.

Please read it and give thanks to God for such wisdom.

The statement says…………………………….                                                                       

September 9, 2010

As we approach yet another September 11, we are reminded that the world we live in continues to be fragile place where emotions and tensions run high. There are not many of us who will ever forget where we were on that September morning nine years ago. We should never forget those whose lives were taken away in the horror of just a few hours.

September 11 should be, for all of us, a day of prayer for peace in this world. It should be a day for quiet remembrance and reflection as we seek to find and live in the ways of peace. We think of Jesus pausing on his way into the holy city of Jerusalem on the day we call Palm Sunday. He wept over the city—not so much for what was about to happen to him, but because the people did not know the things that make for peace (Luke 19:41-42). We suspect he still weeps, looking out over the world we currently inhabit.

September 11 should be a day of prayer for rebuilding and restoring relationships, and for reaching out to find ways to work and live together in this world. It is not a day for burning the holy book of another faith tradition. Tragically one person has garnered headlines for advocating such a thing. There is nothing of Jesus in such an action. In fact, as we recall, there was a time when the disciples wanted to call down fire from heaven on the perceived enemies for refusing to receive Jesus. No, Jesus said; in fact he “rebuked” those who advocated such a means. (Luke 9:51-55). Such an action is not the way of Jesus, nor the way of peace and love.

There was a meeting earlier this week in Washington, DC, of religious leaders of many faith communities. The United Methodist Church and its Council of Bishops was represented by its Executive Secretary, Bishop Neil L. Irons. The members of the group, in a formal statement, said: “We are committed to building a future in which religious differences no longer lead to hostility or division between communities. Rather, we believe that such diversity can serve to enrich our public discourse about the great moral challenges that face our nation and our planet. On the basis of our shared reflection, we insist that no religion should be judged on the words or actions of those who seek to pervert it through acts of violence; that politicians and members of the media are never justified in exploiting religious differences as a wedge to advance political agendas or ideologies . . . We work together on the basis of deeply held and widely shared values, each supported by the sacred texts of our respective traditions. We acknowledge with gratitude the dialogues between our scholars and religious authorities that have helped us to identify a common understanding of the divine command to love one’s neighbor. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all see an intimate link between faithfulness to God and love of neighbor; a neighbor who in many instances is the stranger in our midst.

“We are convinced that spiritual leaders representing the various faiths in the United States have a moral responsibility to stand together and to denounce categorically derision, misinformation or outright bigotry directed against any religious group in this country. Silence is not an option. Only by taking this stand, can spiritual leaders fulfill the highest calling of our respective faiths, and thereby help to create a safer and stronger America for all of our people.” **

We urge all of us to approach the remembrance of September 11 in prayer and hope for peace; and in resolving to do everything we can individually and collectively to live the way of Jesus. It is our prayer that this weekend be filled with prayers and not the fires of hatred and irrational rage.

Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster
President, Council of Bishops

Bishop Neil L. Irons
Executive Secretary, Council of Bishops

Church/Community ?

Got an interesting telephone call today from a Church member. The local MP (newly elected at the last election) is looking for somewhere to hold his surgery and had wondered if he could use one of my Churches. never having dealt with this before I did what any good Superintendent Minister would do; I consulted the rule book (CPD). It was typically neutral and referred more to the holding of political meetings or discussions about Christian theology and ethics. I may be naive but I couldn’t imagine many people wanting to discuss theology or Christian ethics with their local MP so I consulted more widely and found that such surgeries happen in many Methodist Churches all over the country.

That set me off thinking……………………. how often do we, as a Church, fail to engage with the community around us because we take a stance and use our Church walls to keep others out ? At times it’s as though we are afraid of being tainted by the world, rather than let the Church be a blessing to the world.

At the end of the day this is perhaps a mission opportunity as the building becomes a place whereby the community can meet its decision makers and where the Church itself can meet both the decision makers and the local community. I believe that a part of our mission is to bring the two together, so that the Church can bring Christs influence on the community and be a true blessing instead of simply expecting `them` to come to `us`. We, ourselves are a part of the community and so it is imperative that we play out part to the full and not take some high and mighty stance about being better than others.

Here endeth todays rant !

Take off !!!!!!

Well, we launched the new Borders Mission Circuit in fine style tonight, with lots of fun, laughter, good music (traditional and modern), keyboards, band, candle lighting, commissioning and a powerful sermon.

The welcome banner at the entrance

 The evening was held at the Post Mill Centre in South Normanton; an excellent venue. We had over 230 people came along and just about every circuit church was represented. The two Superintendents (Jim and I) were commissioned, the staff and stewards were then commissioned and the whole Circuit was launched with a very moving candlelit ceremony where two people from each of the previous four circuits brought a candle and then lit a single candle together to symbolise the four becoming one. As each added their light to the new candle they extinguished the old candle to symbolise the closure of their previous circuit. Powerful stuff.

The band from Pilsley Church played well and Lenna played the more traditional hymns on the keyboards with gusto. Good strong singing and I even managed to hold the signing together with relatively few mistakes (I think).

Loraine peruses the order of service prior to the worship

 Our new Chair of District, Rev Loraine Mellor, preached a powerful sermon about putting new wine into old wineskins, and challenged us all to be new wine in new wineskins; to be missional people and to grow as a Circuit by winning new people for Christ. I was particularly impressed by her knowledge of our mission statement and the way in which she affirmed it. Loraine seems to have prepared well for this and it wasn’t `just another service` to her. I feel honoured that she preached so personally for us.  Very challenging and I pray that we can ALL rise to the challenge and seriously advance the Kingdom of Christ in this area.

Over refreshments afterwards there was a tremendous buzz as people shared with old and new friends; a real sense of excitement about the evening but also about the future. People seem to have come together with a sense of purpose.

I’m still on a high over it all. Praise God.

Rev Jim raises a glass to the new circuit

 As you can see from the two photos of Jim and I there was plenty of fun throughout the evening. Jim and I are shaping up to have a tremendous relationship, based on trust, friendship and a real sense of brotherliness between us. We hope and pray that the new Circuit will grasp hold of the closeness between us and model itself to have a similar closeness.

The new circuit is warned about Rev Mike

Pray for us all as we journey together that God may be glorified in all that we do in His name.

Borders Mission, up and running

Well, after all the waiting, preparation, worry, hard work and emotion the new Borders Mission Circuit officially came into being yesterday. It felt very strange waking up in the morning to think that I was now in a brand new circuit, but still in the same old house. That’s not to say that I’m ungrateful that the Amber Valley Circuit have allowed me to stay here until the new Manse is sorted out but it is a strange feeling to be a Minister in an area but not living there. Still, that’ll get sorted out I have no doubt.

The last few days have been both hectic and extremely emotional. Last Friday I said farewell to the folk at Maple Leaf House (MHA care home) where I’ve been Chaplain for the last 6 years. Lots of tears  over leaving, laughter as I introduced the new Chaplain (Alison) and said she wouldn’t be as good as the old one (!) and joy over the chocolate cake they had baked for me. Combined with a framed photograph and boxes of chocolates, bookmarks and other presents it was quite an occasion.

Saturday was spent buying and setting up my new computer. I used the cheque that the four Churches who are moving into Amber Valley gave me to buy it. They were very generous.

Sunday brought emotion again as the time came to leave Codnor. Every member of the congregation had turned up dressed head to foot in black and white; what a marvellous gesture. A family came along who I have supported and helped over the years and they were pleased that I had been given a Derby County shirt. They gave me a hand painted picture. Again many tears and laughter. It was a moving, heart wrenching occasion. We shared in Holy Communion and it felt right that we should do so, not just because of my farewell but in many ways it felt like closing the entire Ripley Circuit with that most sacred of acts.

And so I’ve now left the Ripley Circuit. It’s been a good 6 years and I’m pleased to have been a part of it. God has been good and I give him thanks.

Borders Mission Methodist Circuit

Yesterday morning (Wed) I woke up in the Borders Mission circuit, to a day of two funerals, paperwork, a visit to a coffee morning in one of our new circuit Chapels and the feeling of “What have I done ?” In many ways it really did feel like ‘business as usual’. However there was a strong sense of new friends to be made, new family to be involved with and new opportunities to creatively build Gods Kingdom. Throughout it all I had a sense that we have done the right thing, the thing that God has asked of us however painful that has been and, because this is Gods will, it will be blessed by Him.

Please continue to pray for us, and for the Amber Valley Circuit, as we make these early steps with all our mistakes and hesitance; please pray that we will glorify God.