Arrived yesterday here at Plymouth for the annual Methodist Conference. Conference always begins with the Ministerial session on the Thursday and Friday before the full Representative session on the Saturday. We are meeting in the Plymouth Pavillions which I last visited about 10 years ago on the “Dangerous Journey” tour. I`m hoping to see a bit more of the City this time !
Yesterday began, as always with the hymn “And are we yet alive” followed by Holy Communion and the Presidents pastoral address which focused on doors, asking the question “Which doors were open in our lives and which were shut ? Where are the open doors of opportunity in our Churches and how do we shut the doors of opportunity ?” A very challenging address which is reprinted in this weeks edition of the Methodist Recorder. If you can`t get hold of a copy then please ask of yourself “Where are the open doors of opportunity in my life/Church to get closer to Jesus ?” and “How do I become a blocked door in my life/Church which stops others from getting close to Jesus ?”
Today we had a wonderful address by Rev John Pritchard, the Bishop of Oxford, (photo below) who was formerly my Principle at St Johns and Cranmer Hall, Durham. John carries a wonderfully warm sense of humour but a tremendous understanding of the importance of the relationship between the Anglican Church and Methodism. Oh, if only more Bishops had his warmth and graciousness.
This was followed this afternoon by the act of thanksgiving and remembrance for all the Ministers who have died since Conference last met, including this year Rev Otto Tuscher who I was proud to count as a friend. I have been given his preaching gown and cassock. I have now worn his gown several times but it will be a while before I can shrink enough to get into his cassock !!
Tomorrow we welcome our new President and Vice President, Rev Mark Wakelin and Mr Michael King. Please pray for them.
On Sunday we receive into Full Connexion the Ordinands followed by their Ordination services. Please pray for them also.
Conference proper begins tomorrow and I would ask that we are all held in prayer as this year there are some difficult decisions to be made which will have a radical effect on things such as training, structures, budgetary cutbacks and so on. This is not going to be an easy Conference and your prayers are much-needed.
I will try to keep a daily blog but the internet access isn’t easy in the hotel. However we`ll see what I can do.