I promised that I would write periodically to let you all know what I`m up to on my sabbatical. Well I’m now into my second week and it still seems strange not seeing any of you regularly, not being involved in what is happening in the circuit or wider Methodism, and not having a regular routine yet.
However that’s not to say that things haven’t happened since I stepped back, but this first week was always going to be a time of relaxing/`chilling out` and so that is largely what I`ve been doing.
As reported in my last letter I closed the working time with a final event at the former Trinity Chapel in Burton being part of the re-opening team with Andrew Griffiths our local MP, seeing it established as a hair and beauty salon. It was a splendid evening, engaging in significant conversations about faith, history of Trinity and future possibilities in the venue: it really does feel like God hasn`t `left the building`. I know I`m an enthusiast but it’s this sort of event that ignites my passion for sharing Jesus and raises my confidence in Fresh Expressions of Church. If you`re in that corner of Burton then feel free to pop in and either have a chat with Steve the owner or Suk Ram the hair stylist of WoWow. They`ll be pleased to spend a few minutes with you, perhaps have a coffee from the Langans counter and show you around: Steve’s vision has been very much to keep the `feel` of the old Trinity Church within a modern setting and I think he`s achieved it.
I then visited the Crich Methodist Church Anniversary service on the following day as they celebrated 250 years of Methodism on that site and within that village. The President of Conference was preaching and the entire service can be found on YouTube.
Midweek I paid a visit to Bletchley Park with my Rotary Club where we saw the enigma coding machines and the Bombe decoding device. Of course Bletchley Park was one of the country’s best kept secrets until fairly recently because of the secretive nature of its codebreakers, but within this last year it has become synonymous with the name of Alan Turing, the genius who led the way in developing the codebreaking machines which were a part of the early development of computers.
A fascinating day out and as Alison sadly couldn`t be with us I think I`ll be travelling back down there again to show her around.
On Sunday past I worshipped in Elim Pentecostal Church in Burton as I think it’s important to my role of representing Methodism within the town centre; what a lovely, warm welcome I received from them; I truly do have the privilege of feeling part of each worshipping community within the town itself.
Monday and Tuesday of this week found Alison and I travelling down to Leavesden near Watford for a tour of the Harry Patter studios. To those who haven’t followed the Harry Potter story that may not seem like much but to those of us who lived and breathed Harry Potter during the regular production of books and films this was delightful. Two very good friends had bought tickets for Alison and I for my birthday and this was our first chance to go; brilliant, amazing, fascinating, informative—-I could go on and on (and possibly will !) it was a great day out.
And now I need to turn my attention to my Celtic Christian studies which I began in January. So far I have received good reports from each monthly essay I`ve sent in, but now my thoughts really do turn to stepping those studies up in depth, partly in preparation for the pilgrimage later following in the footsteps of St. Cuthbert.
I also need to reassess my questionnaire on the relationship between the Church and deafness in the light of some comments received; I think that’s a task for this afternoon. Next week I`m travelling to Oldham to discuss this questionnaire with some folk and discover how they feel that the Church treats deaf people.
HOWEVER, in the meantime the news that the Redshaws have been waiting to tell you all (and I`m sorry not to see you with this news) is that we can now announce that this is the year in which Alison and I become grandparents ! yes, Vikki and Mark are going to become parents in November and Alison and I are absolutely over the moon with the news. Already Alison has started calling me “Grumpy Gramps”. We`ve had to keep quiet about it for several weeks now until the 12 week scan but can now celebrate. So if you see me around the area with an inane grin on my face you`ll know why !!
I continue to give thanks to the Methodist Church and to the people of the Trent and Dive Methodist Circuit for allowing me this extended period of study leave; it is a wonderful gift and much appreciated.