Methodist report on Marriage and Relationships

The press release on the report from Methodist Conference. Some of us are disappointed and want to say “WHY 2020 ?” After 2 years of waiting for a decision to be told to wait another 2 years …………………….  😦

Sent: Wednesday, July 4, 2018 7:32 PM
Subject: Report on Marriage and Relationships
News release
4 July 2018 

Report on Marriage and Relationships

The Marriage and Relationships Task Group has delivered an interim report to the Methodist Conference, the governing body of the Methodist Church, which is meeting in Nottingham. The Conference agreed a change to the way in which the Task Group will complete its work.

After discussion of issues raised by the draft report in workshops and long and respectful debate on the floor of the Conference, the Task Group will now produce a further report containing a number of key theological arguments and recommendations.

This report will be delivered at the 2019 Conference and, subject to acceptance, will be referred to the District Synods of the Church for a year-long process of consideration and approval.

The 2020 Conference will then make a final decision, with any provision implemented with immediate effect. None of this prevents a longer and more detailed Conference Statement being presented at a later stage.

Local churches, circuits and individual members are being encouraged to feed in their opinions about this work through their Synods.

A video from the Methodist Conference featuring members of the Task Group with different perspectives will shortly be available to help these discussions.

The Conference was also reminded about the Model Statement for Living with Contrary Convictions from the 2016 Conference.

Chair of the Marriage and Relationships Task Group, and former President of the Conference, the Revd Kenneth G Howcroft, said: “The group’s task is great while its timetable is short. The group has worked with commitment since the 2016 Conference and has engaged in a lot of thinking, praying, research and writing.”

The report observes that: “As with all matters of policy, any recommendations should be based on prayerful discernment; careful reading, interpretation and application of the Scriptures; and rigorous thinking. We have come to see that the key aspect in all relationships is the Christ-like quality of the way in which people relate.”

Living with Contradictory Convictions

Included in the report to the 2016 Conference by the previous Marriage and Relationships Task Group.

We continue to believe that God has been revealed in Jesus Christ, accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, and live in communion with God and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We cherish our place within Christ’s Church recognising that it is Christ alone who chooses, calls and confirms us as members of His church, the body of Christ.

 

Whilst we may not all agree about everything, we recognise the importance of the truths which bind us together as well as the issues which currently divide us.

Therefore, we resolve:

 

  • To engage with each other openly, honestly, prayerfully and graciously
  • To treat each other with respect and dignity, recognising the sincerity of the faith of those who may see things differently
  • To seek to learn from one another as we travel together as fellow pilgrims
  • To renounce all language and behaviours that attempt to coerce others to change their views or beliefs
  • To seek, as far as conscience allows, to preserve the fellowship of Christ’s Church
  • To unite under the authority

Notes:

  1. The Conference is the body that agrees policy for the Methodist Church. It meets annually as a group of 306 representatives, along with a number of ecumenical and World Church associate members. This year’s Conference is being held at Central Hall Westminster from 30 June 7 July. For more information, visit the Methodist website.
  2. You can watch the Conference live here.
  3. Follow the Conference conversation on Twitter via the #methodistconf hastag. Please note that comments and opinions on Twitter and the blog do not necessarily represent the Methodist Church’s position.
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Tomorrows celebration

Going to bed tonight with a large degree of excitement, nervousness and thankfulness as tomorrow is the day when I will celebrate 25 years since Ordination at Burton upon Trent, never knowing I’d be coming back to the town as Presbyter.

I look back and try to remember all the things that have happened over those 25 years, from my first pastoral visit in Oldham to discover the person concerned had died 6 months earlier (but not taken off the pastoral lists !) and that was only on day 1, all the way through to the funeral I’ve arranged over this past weekend.

I have the privilege of going back to Trinity Chapel,where the Ordination took place (now known as Confessions) where I’ll be hosting an open house for anyone wishing to join me.

25 years ago I had completed my Probationer time in the Oldham and Saddleworth Circuit where I learnt so much and made a good many friends. Many have passed on to glory now but they loved me and I loved them. I think of Mary Timms who was one of our regular babysitters, John and Hilda Longworth, Harry, Mavis, Ken, Shirley, May, Jack, Gareth, Kate and so many others. I give special thanks that was there that a great friendship was born with Judith Weston, the creator of my waistcoats.

The Methodist Conference was held in Derby that year and as is always the way all Ordinands were “Received into Full Connexion” at the representative session of Conference (in Derby itself) and then sent out all over the District to be Ordained. My college was sent to the Trinity Chapel in Burton. How special it was for me, as my Mum had died only 7 weeks earlier, that Dad was able to come down with Alison’s Mum and Dad.

How the Trinity has changed over the years as it is now a coffee lounge and a host of other small businesses including a hairdressers. Steve bought it from the Methodist Circuit and has done a marvellous job transforming it.

This was a picture taken at the re-opening night a couple of years ago; its changed again and Wowow has gone, replaced by a different hair stylist, but the whole venue is so tasteful. I’m deeply grateful to Steve and the manageress of Confessions for letting me take residence and simply be.                                                   

So where have the twenty-five years gone ? it feels as though they’ve gone in a daze, filled with memories from Oldham, Erewash Valley Circuit, Ripley Circuit, Borders Mission Circuit and currently the Trent and Dove Circuit. In that time Ive had pastoral oversight of 33 churches and been Superintendent over e Circuits; Ive worked alongside 25 different colleagues and learnt from each one.

Ive been a Probationer, Presbyter, Circuit Evangelism Enabler, Superintendent, Deputy Chair of District, school governor in 6 schools, served with Rob Frost on Share Jesus Missions, travelled with him on 3 theatre tours, continued my own love of drama in Oldham and Erewash Valley and then Ripley Circuits.

Ive taken funeral services for babies and for elderly and all ages I between; Ive laughed and cried with folk, returned to my home circuit for anniversaries, enjoyed Spring Harvest for many years, led weekend retreats on prayer and evangelism………….. and it feels as though theres so much more.

Throughout it all alongside me has been my wonderful family, Alison, Rebecca, Vikki and now their partners Michelle and Mark. Of course Piper our grandchild has become the new love of our lives and soon to be joined by her baby brother. The family have been tremendously supportive throughout and Methodism owes them a great debt (as they do all Manse families). A debt for the times when Ive sat in bed counselling someone down the phone while Alison lay asleep beside me, the times when Ive dashed away from a family meal to go urgently to the hospital, the times when meetings in the house have limited my family times and the girls went with it. The times when Rebecca and Vikki shared their Dad with other children who visited and never complained. The times when the house was invaded by visitors including one lady who stayed 7 months and bought us a dog bowl as a thank you ! Rebecca and Vikki just put up with the craziness of a manse family and I appreciate all of their support. Without them I couldn’t have achieved half of what I did achieve.

So often the Ministers family are just expected to be there but Alison, Rebecca and Vikki have been more than ‘just there’, they have been integral to my Ministry and continue to be so.

As I look back I have to acknowledge that at times it doesn’t feel the same as it used to; more paperwork, more administration, safeguarding, pastoral supervision, are just a few of the things that have changed the calling somewhat; some changes have been for the good and others I’m not sure about.

However, what I am certain about is my calling. I still feel called to ‘save souls’ and bring people to know Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour and nothing will change that.

I hope to see many there tomorrow but even if no one turns up I’ll still give thanks for a wonderful journey and look forward to that which yet lies ahead of me.

The best job in the world

I consider myself very fortunate in the jobs I am called to do; I love being a Presbyteral Minister and I thoroughly enjoy being in the Trent and Dove Methodist Circuit. I also enjoy the variety being Deputy Chair of District brings and the sheer range of people I have to meet. I serve on the District missions team, the District Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team and at Connexional level I am a part of the Fresh Expressions Group who are tasked with producing a Good Practise Guide for fresh expressions of Church.
Outside of all of this I am about to become the President of the Rotary Club of Burton upon Trent, a privilege I’ve had before in a former area but a privilege nonetheless.
A variety of jobs/tasks but tonight I am experiencing the greatest of them all: the job of being a Grandad to Piper (and soon to Emett, our grandson to be born in September). Piper is having a sleepover at Grandma and Grandad’s house tonight and because Grandma had to go to an activity at her Church Grandad was given the awesome responsibility of getting Piper to bed. Now its worth sharing that Piper is a boisterous, lively, fun loving two and a half-year old with boundless supplies of energy. She positively revels in the excitement of simply being alive (oh if we all had that sort of energy !).
Tonight has been special because I managed to get her into her pyjamas without fuss, wash her, give her the chance to brush her teeth, play a while and then settle her down. I simply did what I always do, lay alongside her so that she could stroke my arm (which she seems to enjoy when she’s tired) and she simply drifted off. What a privilege I’ve had and what an awesome responsibility.
Why do I share this with you ? Because as you read this we will have entered the season of Pentecost, the Church’s recognition of the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-11). The Holy Spirit remains a source of confusion to many people as its easy to imagine God as ‘being out there’ or Jesus I human form, but its hard to imagine a being with our apparent shape who is simply like our breath, integral but non visible. Consequently we often neglect the third part of the Holy Trinity, partly from lack of understanding and partly because of fear of the unknown.
John 14:26 records the words of Jesus as “but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you”.
The Holy Spirit was once described by a child as “Jesus’ other self”. Whether that’s an appropriate description of not I’m not sure but it works for me, for Jesus promised that after he returned to Heaven we would not be left alone but God would send the Holy Spirit to help us, guide us, lead us, look after us, comfort us, encourage us and remind us of his love for us.
In many ways as I gently nursed Piper to sleep tonight it reminded me of how God wraps his arms around me, by the Holy Spirit, and brings reassurance, affection and love. I can rest easy in his arms because he is with me at all times.
May God bless you all

Spring Harvest 2018

Its taken a few days but I’m sitting down tonight to reflect on this years Spring Harvest experience, at Minehead last week. Under the title of “Only the Brave” we explored the book of James in morning Bible studies, morning interactive conversations and in evening celebrations. It urged us to take our discipleship more seriously; we’re not to play at Church, but to engage in lifestyle change.

Here I’ve included a few pictures of the event (the full collection will be uploaded to my Facebook pages there are too many for this page.

The picture to the right is of my reflection in the mirror one morning, as the theme challenged us to look at ourselves in the way we would look in a mirror: i.e. the Biblical warning of James 1:23-24 and the need not just to read the scriptures but to live it our. It’s not a flattering picture and there must be times when God looks at me and despairs, but I want to shine a mirror on my life in order to weed out the times I don’t obey and act in the way I should.

It was a challenging week, very tiring, but also good to be amongst others who were similarly looking to hold their lives up to scrutiny.

A mix of great preachers such as Simon Guillebaud, who feels that God sent him to Burundi, one of the most dangerous places on earth and Steve Uppal. Worship was led in one venue by Elim sound and in another by the great Geraldine Latty.

Evenings had a mixture of entertainment and as always we thoroughly enjoyed Jonathan Viera, this year with his new settings for familiar hymns. We were challenged to pray for the world around us, (much-needed at the moment) and reminded that even in the most dire of situations we place our trust in God and so must lose our pride in ourselves for humility before him.

 

 

 

 

 

Theres so much more I could say, but every year I return from Spring Harvest with new challenges on my life, and a renewed desire to follow Jesus as a faithful disciple. And so in closing the last photo is of the new Hoodie I bought…………………….

 

 

A worrying day with a wonderful outcome

I never thought I’d be wearing one of these bands again for a while and yet this is from todays visit to Queens hospital in Burton.

My apologies to all those who have felt that I was a “bit off”, short with them, and not achieving what they thought I should. The truth is that for the past month I haven’t been on top form, and largely because I visited my GP about occasions when I seemed to have a reflux problem He immediately started speaking about the possibility of cancer and wanted to investigate. This has involved my attendance today for a gastroscopy procedure. a most hideous experience, performed by a wonderful team of caring professionals for whom I’ll always have the highest praise.

Consequently its hung over me for a while filling my mind with all sorts of possibilities; I even worked my funeral music out (entrance to Tina Turner, “Steamy windows” and exit to Lindisfarnes “Run for Home”) and Alison was told which funeral firm and who was to lead the service (you can relax again Loraine Mellor).

I many ways the reaction was grossly over the top, as I was given a complete ALL CLEAR; no abnormalities, no tumour, no scarring, nothing. Thankfully and my gratitude to the few who knew about it and prayed for me.

I’d deliberately kept it quiet as I didn’t want sympathy and wanted to continue to be there to try to help people. However, because I’ve always tried to be open and honest about both my good times and my bad times, I felt I need to share this tonight.

Tonight I will go to bed and sleep easier.

Tonight I will go to bed with a greater understanding of the fears of others

Tonight I will go to bed grateful for a God who has held me.

Tonight I will go to bed appreciating once again the NHS, who have supported me magnificently today.

Tonight I will go to bed with a sense of those who have yet to undergo frightening treatments, such as gastroscopy procedures.

And believe me, if anyone produces what looks like a bazooka and tries to tell me its a “small camera” I may be tempted to do the wrong thing……….!

I’ve been thinking this evening about Holy Week, which has also rather been lost because of my thoughts elsewhere, and I’ve dwelt on the loneliness of Jesus, the anxiety of knowing what was to come and the result.

Firstly, the appointment came at a time when Alison had a service in her own church. We discussed it and I felt strongly that she should continue with it as the work of Jesus continues anyway. However that meant that I had to walk to the hospital and, sit in the waiting area on my own and go through it by myself. Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane was alone. Was he scared ? the Bible seems to suggest he was. Was he tempted to back out ? Again Scripture says he prayed “let this cup pass from me”. I too felt alone, and if I could’ve got out of it I may well have done, knowing what I was facing.

However I stayed with it because I knew it would give a definite result, and my family deserve nothing less. For me the result was amazing and I praise God for the skill, knowledge and care of the medical profession.

For Jesus the result was resurrection; job done; mission accomplished; victory achieved. We will praise and celebrate on Easter Sunday as if we’ve never praised before because we worship a God who understands our loneliness, our fear and anxiety and throughout it all holds us very dear to himself.

I feel as though I’ve been through my personal Good Friday today, but nothing compared to what God went through for me and for this world. Praise to Him for being prepared to endure the cross for us.

Pascal’s Wager

As most of my readers will know I love going into schools to talk to children, either through the medium of assemblies, or through question and answer sessions. I find the latter very challenging and have spent five sessions over the last two weeks meeting in a local secondary school with youngsters ranging from year 7 (11/12) to year 11 (15/16) and the range of questions has been wonderful rating from “why are you a Christian ?” to the standard “why does God allow suffering ?” This morning I answered questions on abortion, homosexuality, Heaven, Hell, the Just War theory, and the Trinity. BIG STUFF !

However it was a question on Wednesday that has stuck with me and it came from a year 7 pupil (remember that means he’s barely 12 if that) and he asked if I believed in Pascals Wager. This is a philosophical concept put forward as one of three arguments for believing, around starting to believe, in the existence of God. The final one of the three arguments is nicknamed Pascal’s Wager and it includes the justification of theism, pragmatism, infinity.

Blaise Pascal, a French philosopher , mathematician and physicist presented this theory during his life time (1623-1662 and basically it suggests tat humans can bet with their lives that God exists or doesn’t.

I don’t want to get into an argument about the relative merits of Pascals thinking, or even if he is right or wrong, BUT I do want to point out that this was a concept raised by a 12 year old boy. I looked at his teacher and she shook her head and said she didn’t understand what it was all about, so he wasn’t simply repeating his teacher.

And yet the questions I get in church are about “pews or not ?”, “which hymn book ?” “should we communicate by e-mail, letter or handwritten posters ?” “why do we have to pay our assessment ?’

It’s interesting that a 12 year old boy is trying to figure out who God is through philosophical argument whilst supposedly long in the tooth Christians are for more concerned about the mechanics of their Church. People in the world are struggling, suffering, dying and we are too often caught up with “should we have hot cross buns before lent ?” and “should we have colour in the church during lent ?”

Next week is Holy Week, the time when we remember the events between Palm Sunday and its procession into Jerusalem and Good Friday when we remember the crucifixion of Jesus. As Christians our focus should be more spiritual rather than physical. That’s not to fall into the trap of “being so heavenly minded that we’re of no earthly use” but it is to say that the spiritual matters of how we’re going to live out our discipleship of Jesus in Gods world should have a higher priority than they often do.

God calls us to wrestle with the heavenly dimension, study our scriptures, engage with him in prayer and meet him in the ordinary, and to lay to one side the trivialities of “who’s turn it is to wash the chapel tea towel”

As we enter Holy Week are you prepared to walk with Jesus and use this time to get to know him better, for after all if a 12 year old boy is prepared to, shouldn’t we ?

Book of Job

Whilst at college 27 years ago I came under some excellent teaching in the Old and New Testaments, in Systematic theology, ethics, pastoral care etc. but one of the things it most instilled in me was a love of the book of Job, from the Old Testament.

A book often misunderstood, and believed to be all doom and gloom with no redeeming features to it. We often remember how he lost all his family, his possessions and was shunned by others. Throughout it all he never lost faith in God, but simply desired answers. We don’t always grasp that it is one of the most exciting, profound and hopeful books of the Old Testament.

Tomorrow I’ve got the privilege of sharing my thoughts on the book as part of the Circuit 2018 focus on “Intentional Faith Development” and I’m finding myself really excited about the prospect. I’m not saying I’m anything special or more knowledgeable about the subject but I do find myself with a passion for the themes of the book, such as the environment, humankind, suffering and even the comparison with Jesus Christ.

I find it a book which speaks of a God who is in charge, a God who doesn’t have to interact with his creation but a God who chooses to do so.

As a Circuit we will cover a variety of books within the Bible (next month is Luke) throughout the year, as various members of staff lead us in their thoughts and teach us about their particular book. In this way we’ll learn more about 12 books of the Bible and if it is well received we may well do another 12 in 2019

Why are we doing this ?        Simply because we all need to grow in our faith and Scripture studied prayerfully, contextually and with a desire to know more of Gods mind shows us how to grow.

In Scripture we meet God in all his fullness; it helps us reflect on the world around us, our place within it and how we can be Gods people in this day and age.

If you’re in the area why not come and join us, and if you’re away from the area why not join us in reading whichever book is chosen each month.