Whats your journey like ?

I write this having been to Dads house in Co Durham. For the fourth time in. 3 weeks I’ve travelled 140 miles to see him. It’s a long and tiring journey, almost entirely on the A38 and M1. Over the years and especially recently it’s a journey I’ve come to know exceedingly well. In my mind I map it out as a series of landmarks: after 1 hour I expect to be beyond Sheffield and by 2 hours past Leeds. I stop at Wetherby or Boroughbridge depending on time. I can then crack on to go past Scotch corner and then the A167 for Dads house. On the way I’ve passed Catterick Garrison where my cousin was stationed, and the sign for Old Mothers Shiptons Cave which I’ve never been to but is on my bucket list to visit one day.

The point of this travelogue ? It’s become such a familiar route that I rarely think about the mechanics of it? I just follow the familiar routine.

Sometimes Church life is like that: we follow the same routine as we’ve always done, without thought. We pay lip service to finding an alternative route, but we don’t have the courage in case it goes wrong and we get lost !

But to try something different can often energise and excite us, and again it’s the same in Church. Why do we always have to have the chairs in rows identical to the pews they replaced ? Why do we sing 4/5 hymns and not 2 or 6 ? Why does the service have to be an hour because God might want longer (or shorter). The first important point isn’t contained in the answers we offer but in the wrestle and struggle to work out an answer as that means we are searching for Gods will not our own; the second important point isn’t about clapping ourselves on the back but it’s about being prepared to change it all again when God directs us. We are a nomadic religion, never settling and always on the move as we are reminded in hymn 450 (Hymns and Psalms). The trouble is that many of us (if not all of us at some time) have settled, put roots down: we start to use expressions such as “my church”, “we don’t do it that way”, “it was better in the old days” and so on. We start to think about making ourselves comfortable instead of furthering the mission of the Church, telling others about Jesus.

All who call themselves Christian are engaged in a mindbogglingly exciting journey that shouldn’t ever be mundane like the M1 but is full of excitement if you’re prepared to let go of the route you’ve always known and take the risk of something different. Ask yourselves the question, “are you on the journey or have you stopped at the services and never quite got going again ?

I want to see the Church grow, numerically, spiritually and powerfully. I’ve been blessed to have Jesus as my driver since I was 16 and its been a great adventure but theres more yet.

Are you up for joining me on the journey ?


Anyone for a Sandwich ?

Someone, in conversation last week, remarked that people of my age are often the “sandwich generation” and I understood what they meant.

To put things into context……………. as I write this Alison and I are anxiously and excitedly awaiting the arrival of our second Grandchild, a boy to be named Emett William. Any day now……………

At the other end of the age spectrum I have been helping my brother, Andrew, with our Dad who is currently in a temporary secure care home and who (just before his 90th birthday) will need to be rehoused in a permanent care home.

So whilst we are awaiting a joyful event with our children we have become the parent to our Father and we seek the best for his needs. We aren’t the children in the relationship any more.

And we feel torn at times. Yesterday and today especially have been very emotional, tears shed, laughter at memories, anxiety over the future and still trying to fulfil Ministry in the present.

I know I’m not the first to go through this experience and nor will I be the last, and I know I’ve got a magnificent brother in Andrew with whom this experience is shared, BUT even with that knowledge it’s still hard and painful, set alongside the imminent arrival of Emett who will make our family even more complete than it already is.

What to do ? Yes, I’m miserable right now but I’m also excited, holding that strange mix of guilt and expectation. I feel a sense of grief even though Dad is still with us but also thankfulness that we can still care for him, albeit in a different way. I feel grief over the probable loss of the home I grew up in, BUT on the other hand I feel hope and joy over Emett

In this crazy, mixed up, rollercoaster I’m still trying to fulfil my Ministry amongst some great, wonderful, caring folk and I’m still trying to lead this Circuit forward in its mission to this area. I have ideas, vision, but it’s still difficult to find the time to share. At times I feel that these good folk deserve a better Minister but at other times I remind myself that I’m here because God wants me here.

What to do ? All I can do is keep returning to what I see as the three-fold nature of Christian Discipleship   1) Prayer 2) Scripture 3) Trust and follow

 Prayer  underpins it all for it’s about relationship; I take my cares and concerns to the one who I know loves me, but as I pour out my heart and should I also need to listen to his “still, small voice’ for guidance.

Scripture.    is the ‘go to’ place for guidance alongside prayer. Whilst Scripture doesn’t give specific answers to specific situations throughout its pages it speaks of love, care, attitude, priorities and so on. In so doing we can discern Gods will for our lives.

Trust and follow is never easy to do. It speaks of giving oneself over to another. One of the most moving things I have ever heard and I think it’ll stick with me for the rest of my life, came yesterday when Dad holding my hand and speaking of both Andrew and I said “I trust you both”, in the context of making decisions on his life. Its the same on our Christian journey, we who have placed our hands into the hands of Jesus simply say to him “I trust you with my life.” 

Right now that’s exactly whats going to pull me through this time, the knowledge of Christs love gained through prayer and Scripture, and my trust in him as my Lord and Saviour.

When I opened the Bible app on my phone this morning these were the words which greeted me from Hebrews 13:8

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”

I rather think that this verse sums it up for me and I pray it will be a blessing in whatever season you are currently passing through.

















Churchianity or Christianity

Here are two photos of Churches I’ve attended today, whilst on holiday in Cornwall. I put each photo on my Facebook page and its interesting to see what replies I got. In many ways its unfair as one was absolutely packed out for worship and the other was open especially for a Cornish cream tea with quite a few visitors and so the photos taken out of context don’t show the full picture and story (& I probably don’t know it anyway)

The first is of St Petroc Parish Church in Bodmin and the second is the Tubestation surfers Church in Polzeath.

What it has raised in my mind is the question, which is the ‘real’ Church?

No doubt to some the answer would be the first picture and that would be largely based on the beauty of the building, and it really was glorious, the pews, the wall decorations and I have no doubt the glory of the liturgy.

The Church in the second picture contained none of the above. The chairs were haphazardly arranged, there were settees at the front, with a skateboard park serving as the sanctuary area. There was no traditional liturgy, even for the Holy Communion and because of the sheer numbers who had to stand it felt gloriously chaotic !

My issue is, and it constantly comes back to me, is what constitutes a Church ? Now this is where I run the risk of being judgemental and I don’t want to so please don’t take this as putting one Church over the other. I can’t be accurate about it as St Petroc wasn’t during worship and we were very warmly welcomed, including our granddaughter Piper. However to many a Church consists of the furnishings, the style of the buildings and so on, whereas there was nothing attractive about the Tubestation. It even had its walls and ceiling decorated with surfboards ! The only outwardly attractive thing about the building was being able to smell the coffee and see the sea through the windows. Again an unfair comment, as I couldn’t see much else for the sheer number of

people in attendance. What is the difference between the Tubestation and any other building which calls itself a Church ? For me it’s simply the people. At St Petroc we were warmly welcomed, invited to take a table and when Piper wanted to play with the toys on offer there was no fuss and simply a generous hospitality shown towards Alison who sat amongst the toys. In fact the lady on duty took Alisons cream tea and two cups of tea to her ! If the rest of the Church is as gracious and hospitable as that lady was to us then it’s a good Church to me. At the Tubestation we were greeted by a lady who asked if we needed seats to sit on or could we stand: she had reserved four seats for those who would be unable to last the entire service standing. Again hospitality and welcome.

I’ve been in Churches where even as the preacher I haven’t felt welcome including one where the steward said at 5.55 p.m. (for a 6.00 p.m.) service, “Well. lets get on with it lad: sooner we start the sooner we can get it over with !” Didn’t make me feel welcome.

I’ve been in Churches where I was told not to encourage the children who like to dance, or Churches where I’ve heard loud tut-tuts at the slightest thing out of the regular order.

I’ve been in Churches where the offering method was changed at baptisms to increase income from the increased number of visitors, suggesting the finance was more important than the welcome.

Now both these Churches today will have their faults and having visited each only once it’s not for me to say how they function, and of course all places of worship have faults and failings, pro’s and con’s, good and bad. But I keep coming back to the words of Jesus who gathered his disciples and especially Peter together and said to them “Upon this rock I will build my Church” (Matthew 16:18). Now some translators especially point out that Peter means rock and I have heard it argued that it also means ‘little pebble’ although I’m doubtful about that translation and can’t even remember where I heard it. When Jesus declared that ‘I will build my Church” I don’t think he meant a physical building nor a religious denomination but a community of believers who would study his teaching, learn about him and emulate his lifestyle of love and forgiveness. He centres this statement upon Peter who has come to the conclusion that Jesus is the way forward, but it’s surely a comment also on all of humankind who choose to live the Christian lifestyle following the model teacher. Alternatively it could also be a declaration that followers need to be strong like rocks and that Jesus is building his Church on himself: followers therefore need to be strong in their faith in Jesus and in their belief that he is Lord and Saviour.

Whichever it is, or both, then its about people NOT about buildings or traditions. It’s not about religious dress, or style; it’s not about words but it is about people living out the words of Jesus in their lives, loving, caring, accepting, non-judging, forgiving, lifting up and encouraging others, see the potential in others and so , so , so much more.

It’s about being the people who see others through the eyes of Jesus, the giver of life; life in all its fullness.

The well dressed Minister !



Friendship connections

Just thinking about some good friends this evening.


Alison and I are currently on holiday but before we set off we heard of a good friend Christine, who had passed away. As we couldn’t be at her funeral we went at the same time to Truro Cathedral, lit a candle and spent time in prayer for her, her husband Colin and all their family.

As we entered the Cathedral we got a phone call saying that another good friend had passed away this morning. We first met Denise at Maple Leaf House when her husband Laurie had dementia. We’ve kept in touch ever since.

This evening we’re both remembering an Inner Wheel friend, Wendy, who passed away last year as this would’ve been her birthday today. Remembering her husband John.

Christine was originally a Sunday-school teacher of mine, although not many years older. She met and married Colin who was to become my best man at my wedding. All in all I’ve known her for over 40 years, and her kindness, generosity and her cheerfulness have been much to admire. Constantly concerned about how other people are, before herself.

Denise bore Laurie’s illness and eventually her own cancer with great fortitude and determination, she made the most of her life with cruises and holidays.

Wendy was the sort of person whose smile and laughter was infectious. Constantly laughing she too bore her cancer bravely and on my last visit to her was simply wanting to know how I was feeling.

(As we lit candles we also lit one in memory of Alison’s Dad, Les, who died in 2007.)


Whats the connections between these three folk who never knew each other ?

Firstly they all bore the hideous and awful illness we call cancer with bravery and remarkable fortitude; Secondly they all showed concern for other people regardless of how much pain they must have been in. Thirdly, they remained for me outwardly cheerful to the end, although I don’t doubt that in private it must have been so hard for them.

Fourthly, and most importantly, they were people of faith. Christine was the only one who went to Church, Denise and Wendy didn’t but they did receive Communion from Alison at home. In so many ways their faith shone out of them, churchgoers or not, and I think that it was their faith that enabled them to pass with dignity, peacefully, and inspirationally.

I will miss them all in different ways, but also remember them with love, affection and for their faith.

My prayers are with each of their families and friends

In remembrance of loved ones

Candles lit at Truro Cathedral today, including ours.


Just a moment to vent some frustration in my life at the moment. I try to live my life to help others, to build them up, encourage and support for that is what I feel I’m called to do as a Christian and hopefully a decent human being. I belong not only to the Church (Circuit and District) but also I’m currently the President of the Rotary Club of Burton, a member of the Trustees of Burton Addiction Centre, a Trustee of the Transformation Trust as well as meeting people in my capacity of a Burton Albion supporter, a resident of Burton and so much more.

Why is it that there are times when I feel that others treat people with disregard, with contempt, overriding any thoughts about encouragement but only harbouring condemnation with their words and actions ?

Maybe I’m naive but I want to see the best in other people; however I feel that there is a mentality abroad that only looks for the mistakes in others. Those who look for the speck in the eyes of others and avoid the log in their own eyes (Matthew 7:5)


How do we live amongst those who seek only their own aims and in so doing often put others down ?

I’m not sure I know the answer but what I do know is that Christ has called me to love others, in ALL, areas of my life and in order to do so it hurts, and I must be prepared to take that hurt. At those times when I’m tempted to tell others what I really think of them and when I’m tempted to tell them what they can go and do I have to hold myself back as it’s not what Jesus asks of me. Yes there is a place for righteous indignation and anger, when others are hurt and oppressed, but there is a place for love and forgiveness also. Others first, self last is I believe the God given model

I believe that the world would be a far better place if the ordinary man and woman in the street (that’s me) could learn such forgiveness, tolerance and acceptance. The picture below shows the words that are on our living room wall.

Oh, I long for the day…………


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


  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.

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.