End of Rotary Office

Well I`ve just concluded my final night as Rotary President; it’s a strange feeling, knowing I`ve handed on something that’s been a major part of my life for the last 18 months. It was an enjoyable evening and my fellow Rotarians were very generous in their praise. What have I enjoyed most about my time in office ? Almost certainly it will have included the privilege of speaking to many folk about their interests, admiring and encouraging the work of young people, such as the youth of Tibshelf school who are part of a building project in Sri Lanka, or the young people of Chernobyl with their indomitable spirit and the young ambassadors for Rotary who have travelled to our country to tell us about their culture.

I would also want to include my two charters (you can read about them on my blog Feb 2010 and 2011) and also the three Inner Wheel Charters I attended as President of Rotary. Inner Wheel is a fine organisation for ladies who often achieve more than the men in Rotary !

I think that it has also been good to have opportunity to “get off my backside” and make a difference by raising money to “STOP POLIO NOW”, the Rotary campaign to completely eradicate Polio across the world. Alongside  the Bill Gates Foundation this is a major initiative to try to completely eradicate this dreadful illness. Working with the World Health Organisation there are now only four countries in the world which report Polio in its midst.

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The Polio Plus campaign is one I`m particularly proud of.

But of course we also collect money for local causes, and during my time in Office we`ve raised money for work such as local schools projects, Derbyshire Young Carers, Morton cricket club, Shirland miners welfare band (Junior), and promoted youngsters towards achievements such as the young chef of the year award, young musician of the year award and so on. The list goes on and on.
But it hasn`t just been about raising money; it’s also been about activities such as taking the Derbyshire young carers 10 pin bowling and to the pantomime; last week I and other Rotarians were part of a mock job interview scheme with the local school helping the youngster learn the tricks of the trade when facing job interviews.
Regular readers of this blog will now that I`m proud of being a Rotarian and long may it continue.
However, its a return to the back-benchers now to see what mischief I can cause !  I now begina year of office as Seargent-at-Arms which means I get to `fine` members for misdemeanours such as breaches of dress code,  poor time-keeping and so on. Of course the `fines` are only 20p and the finances go to the Rotary Foundation Charity. It`s always conducted with a sense of fun and laughter. Tonight I was fined for my loud waistcoat, for failing to laugh at the secretary`s joke, and for hanging onto the office of President for too long !!!    All good fun.


Follow me on Twitter logo
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Have I done a deal with the devil ? I`ve now signed up for a Twitter account. Why ? Probably because of my nature and personality of wanting/needing to keep in touch with people about some of the most banal aspects of life !!


Seriously, I do feel that the Church needs to be aware and engaging with the modern social media for that is the way people in society are going (or should that be `trending` to use tweeter speak). Young people especially see tweeter, Facebook and other networks as a perfectly natural way of keeping in touch with each other, sharing news, and socializing. Whilst us older fuddy-duddies may long for a glorious golden age of letters and face-to-face contact it has to be said that it is never coming back, if indeed it ever really existed. I`m now in touch with far more people through my Facebook account than ever before. Yes, it is rarely anything of any major consequence but it keeps the door open should I ever need to go into more depth, and often isn`t that what most relationships about ?

Its believed that most people only have about 10 people who are really close friends with whom they will share confidences etc. Of those 10 only about three are privileged to be intimate with someone. However most people will have a wider circle of acquaintances who are simply `there`. I feel that much of the social media networking sites fulfills this latter task nicely.

In addition it is a further opportunity to share what is going on in the Church and more importantly the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So I am now officially a tweeter or should that be a`twit` and we`ll see how it works out. Follow me if you wish. Now is that something Jesus might have said…………………………………………. ? I wonder if he would have tweeted !!

Joke or is it ?

I went to the cemetery yesterday to lay some flowers on a grave.  As I was standing there I noticed 4 grave diggers walking about with a coffin; 3 hours later and they’re still walking about with it.

I thought to myself, they’ve lost the plot !!

A terribly corny joke, I know, but I sometimes wonder how much we “lose the plot”. I`ve carried out a mission audit with two of my churches now and tonight the circuit leadership discussed the possibility of a circuit wide mission audit. It feels as though we need something to call us back to our original purpose;

Too many Churches within the land have forgotten why they exist; they have become exclusive clubs where we must sing our favourite hymns, have sermons by our favourite preachers (but not too long) and where we`ll turn up if we`ve nothing better to do. Don`t get me wrong, in almost every Church there are some wonderfully committed Christians but there are also many others for whom change is an anathema and should be resisted at all cost. There are some who will declare that they want the Church to grow but will do nothing about it and certainly won`t allow necessary change.

So what is the purpose for our existence ? Matthew 28, otherwise known as the Great Commission, simply records the words of Jesus as “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” That is our purpose………….to make disciples. It isn`t to pack them in and create bigger and bigger mega-churches, nor is it to sit back and say “we`re too old”, as some do.

fresco at the Karlskirche in vienna (by Johann...
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We`re simply called to make disciples, but to do so we need help. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to be our helper and many Churches need to rediscover him and his power. I`m hoping and praying that our mission audit won`t be about how to “pack`em in” but will be about reminding us to make disciples, in the power of the Spirit.

A day of coffee drinking ?

A photo of a cup of coffee.
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Wow, what a day I had yesterday ! Began at St. John`s for a quick cup of coffee at their coffee morning, moved onto Annesley Woodhouse for the early part of their 24 hour Bible read-a-thon (another cup of coffee); from there I went to Zion South Normanton for their silent auction (yes, coffee but with a ham sandwich !). I then moved onto Pilsley Church for their Creative Church (coffee again). Last night I went to Bethel for a concert to raise money to send a young girl to South Africa to work in an orphanage and then I rounded the day off by going back to Annesley Woodhouse to take my part in the Bible reading session with coffee to keep me awake……….

Long, hard and certainly tiring but, oh so worthwhile ! It may seem to some that all I did was wander around drinking coffee but I think it was much more than that. You see, I`ve always believed that the most valuable part of a Ministers work is carried out when he/she is meeting people, encouraging them and spending time with them. Yesterday I met friends from each of the churches, some members of the public who I would hope will become friends, children who I will hopefully encourage in their faith and I made myself available to everyone.

availability also brings vulnerability however, as I was `cornered` by someone who just wanted to complain at one stage, but that was a mere blip in an otherwise delightful day. If we`re going to be about changing the world then what the world needs more than anything is loving community. The Churches first role is to supply that loving community through its activities; secondly it must be a place of welcome in those activities; thirdly, build relationships and fourthly in those relationships speak of Jesus and how he came to save. Fifthly as we`re doing all this we should be people of prayer, praying that our welcome will set people onto the road of salvation.

Now into another special day as I travel this afternoon to Stoke to be at the welcome service for a very special friend who is a Methodist Presbyter. Sue`s welcome to her new churches has been delayed because of ill-health so it will be a joy to be with her tonight as she finally `arrives`(after 8 months) and YES, there will be a cup of coffee !!


Dentist drilling a girls tooth
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A Geordie and his wife walked into a dentist’s office.
The Geordie said to the dentist, “Doc, I’m in one heck of a hurry. I have two mates sitting out in my car waiting for us to go play golf, so forget about the anaesthetic, I don’t have time for the gums to get numb. I just want you to pull the tooth, and be done with it! We have a 10:00 a.m. tee time at the best golf course in town and it’s 9:30 already… I don’t have time to wait for the anaesthetic to work!’

The dentist thought to himself, “My goodness, this is surely a very brave man asking to have his tooth pulled without using anything to kill the pain.”

So the dentist asks him, “Which tooth is it sir?”

The man turned to his wife and said, “Open your mouth Pet, and show him!”


A nice beef stew for dinner.
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Checked my diary for today and its amazing how much food is involved !

I`m supposed to be attending Newton Chapel for breakfast, Trinity Chapel for messy Church (where there is always food involved), Crich Chapel for lunch and then this evening I will be at a concert in Mansfield and I`m prepared to bet there will be food,
if only biscuits !!

It seems almost gluttonous but food is also a regular feature in Scripture. Throughout the Bible there are numerous references to parties, meals, food. Jesus told Zachaeus that he was coming to his house for a meal; he healed Simons mother-in-law and she cooked food for them; visiting the sisters Martha and Mary, the former rushed around getting things ready for a meal and of course the most famous meal of all, The Last Supper, when Jesus gathered his followers on the night before he died. As a result of the Last Supper the Church has commemorated this meal regularly in worship giving it various names such as Mass, Sacrament, The Lord`s Supper,
Eucharist and so on.

The trouble is I sometimes think that what we do when we re-enact the Last Supper is not what Jesus intended. Its become an extremely ritualistic meal with all sorts of sub-meanings to various actions, ways of receiving the bread and the wine (even in my few Chapels its amazing how many different ways they can be received and each Chapel thinks that their way is the right one), whether we need an altar rail or not etc. And yet I think that all Jesus meant was for his disciples to continue to meet together regularly as a community, to share together, grow together and support each other and what better way to do this than over a meal ?


In many FreshExpressions of Church the role of food is important. I`ve already mentioned Messy Church where anything from nibbles to a full-blown meal can be provided; the Church in Liverpool which is centred around making bread; community Churches in homes nearly always involve food. Away from Fresh Expressions we could point to the Alpha course which is largely succesful, not because of its good quality teaching, but because of the sense of community which is created over the meal before the evening begins. Food is central to much of what we do.

So what is it about food ? I think food relaxes people into company; over food inhibitions drop and people are freer to share thoughts and ideas. Laughter occurs, fun `happens`. The meal is the catalyst to relationships. And so much of our lives revolve around mealtimes, dinner parties, occasions, cups of tea/coffee and so on. God has given us an opportunity to share with each other and create community; food is a part of that opportunity.

Yes, it does give some of us `size issues` but, hey……….. that’s the sacrifice I`m prepared to make for the sake of the Gospel