Sometimes it is easy for any institution to become insular and self-serving and, perhaps naturally, concerned rather than survival rather than any real mission or purpose. Christian faith in Britain too is becoming seen simply as just one part of the ‘third sector’ as a provider of services or as a kind of recreation facility like bowling clubs or theatres. It is becoming seen as part of something bigger and not something in itself.
Since the publication of its report Time to Talk of God in 2005, The Methodist Church has been seeking ways to reacquaint the Church—and the Christian disciple—with the wider world. As the report reminds the reader, everything a Christian believes and does is an aspect of discipleship; the goal of discipleship is to grow ever more Christ-like in every aspect of life.
One of the ways churches in Britain have sought to do this is through the rise of Practical Theology which proposes the use of the pictorial ‘Pastoral Cycle’ (below), a four-stage guide on how to listen to God. It begins with an experience (an event; what happened and how did one feel). Next is exploration (why did it happen; what life experiences, knowledge and abilities did one draw on). The third stage is reflection (which theological issues are relevant). Finally, is the response (how is one challenged or changed by the experience). The intended consequence of this process is the ‘so what’ question: “what difference is it going to make next time I find myself in this situation?”
The cycle should not return to where it originally started, but all this new learning and reflection hopefully takes a person onto a new place and into new situations. However, for some the worry is that the starting point of experience in the Pastoral Cycle belies the fundamental weakness of the approach: if the Church is of inherent value should reflection not begin with Scripture and Church teachings and not with experience?
Ignatius of Loyola
The 31 July is the annual commemoration of Ignatius of Loyola. As a young man Ignatius was (in his own words) a man given over to the vanities of the world, and took a special delight in the exercise of arms, with a great and vain desire of winning glory. After a serious injury he was forced to convalesce for several months and it was during this time that he said he began to daydream that he was one of the early saints, leaving him at peace and not looking forward to battle.
The Ignatian Method of prayer places oneself in the Biblical scene where you become a part of it by way of your imagination. Try to imagine what you might see...what you might hear...and what the persons in the scene might be doing. At each point in the contemplation, you are invited to draw some practical instruction from the reflection for your own life to-day. What changes and challenges does the reflection on the event deliver?
It can be useful to read all the verses of the text 2 or 3 times, then read a verse and pause to meditate on it for a few moments and let the Spirit guide in how to pray and intercede with God (as described in Romans 8:26-27).
As the Church commemorates Ignatius, perhaps the Ignatian Method is a valuable ameliorative basing our reflections from the outset in Scripture rather than in events.
To conclude, a prayer of surrender penned by Loyola strongly reminiscent of the Methodist Covenant Prayer:
Take, Lord, all my liberty, my memory,
my understanding and my whole will.
You have given me all that I have, all that I am,
and I surrender all to your divine will.
Give me only Your love and Your grace.
With this I am rich enough, and I have no more to ask.
We put a lot of time and effort into our church life, and sometimes it seems an up-hill battle, but it’s good sometimes to reflect on some of our achievements as we hesitantly walk with God.
Some of the things we can be proud about achieving together are just listed below and are really fantastic marker posts to give thanks and praise for:
1. Eighth Year since the start up of 0930 Live! now fortnightly with live band and lots of active worship
2. Start up of monthly Lunch Group
3. Start up of Book Reading Group
4. Eighth year of Fellowship and Remembrance Services
5. Five new worship leaders volunteered and trained
6. New Annexe to Church Hall funded and built
7. Two Families and Children’s Lay Workers appointed
8. United Reformed Church members welcomed into the Church family
9. £7,000 a year raised for external charities operating locally, nationally and internationally
10. Art Exhibitions, Christmas Tree Festivals, Safari Suppers and Quizzes linking Church and community
11. Messy Church, Messy Mice and Buggy Walks started for young families
12. Regular Christian Assemblies provided by our lay workers in two local primary schools
13. Men's Club and evening Ladies Group growing strongly, with warm fellowship and many 'outside' members
14. Six new local preachers begun training in the Circuit (one of them ‘ours’) who will enrich and diversify our worship
At the time of writing ALL the church lights work and all the boilers are heating!!! Be proud!
We are Marching, we are Marching, we are Marching in the Light of God!
Come and join us and enjoy.
We have been delighted to welcome several new families to 0930 Live! over the last few months. It is exciting to witness growth as well as making new friends. In March the Manor House School choir joined us for a service, singing beautifully, and raising some more money to enable a party from their link school in Ghana to come here in July. They will be joining us for a service 15th July and it will be lovely to share worship with them. As a result of their timing, the dates for 0930 Live! in July are 15th in Church and 22nd July at Beeston campsite. There will be no 0930 Live! 8th July.
As we look ahead to the summer we are getting busy planning our annual camping weekend. This will be our fourth trip away and third time at Beeston. The theme this year will focus on the forthcoming Olympics, so get your running shoes ready! Dates for the camp are Friday 20th - Sunday 22nd July. It is ideal for first time campers due to its proximity to home and people are welcome to camp for one or two nights. Or not at all - the sessions are planned to allow involvement during the day only. Please let Andrea or me know if you are interested in a camping pitch, or if you would like more details.
Community & Schools Worker
Over the last two years Messy Church has met on a Friday night, bringing people of all ages together to spend some time having fun, eating and worshipping God. As we enter a time of change within our church life, it’s good to stop and revalue what we do. There is a possibility that the night may change to a Thursday from September. Would this suit people or is a Friday night better? Why do you come to Messy Church? Can we improve it in any way? Would an earlier time be better? Have you every been? Or would you like to help? Comments gratefully received.
Our links with both primary schools are as strong as ever. In the coming months The Manor School KS1 children are holding their infant wedding at Church. In July, children and their carers from Ghana come over to spend a week in the school and together we will be celebrating their visit at 0930 Live! The lunch time club at Weaver Vale enables a large group of children to come together to discuss Christianity through the activities provided. At the end of term these children will be involved in the assembly. This, when mentioned, caused great excitement!
Can you believe it was a year ago that Messy Mice started? And what a great time we have had and continue to have. Let’s hope there is some summer weather approaching to enable us to be more Messy outside! Talking of the Summer, hopefully there will be some café style drop in sessions for people to use. Look out for details. Toddlers have seen changes to toys and equipment over this year and new people have joined. Come and join us on a Thursday morning.
New ideas. I’m just putting forward a new idea. Do you ever want to find out more about Christianity but find it hard to find the time to? A mum with a busy life perhaps? I am suggesting that once a month over a lunch time, we meet to learn together in a friendly way to talk about our faith. Come just as you are with your lunch. Open to everyone,
children welcome. Look out for more details.
My number is 07749877823 if you would like to get in touch. Or you can e-mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Young Families Worker
‘in the image’ is an exhibition of pieces from the Methodist Art Collection, to be held at the Wesley Church Centre, St John Street, Chester, from 22nd September to 27th October.
This renowned collection includes works by Graham Sutherland, Elizabeth Frink and Edward Burra – people I’ve spoken to who’ve seen it say how brilliant it is. The event is aiming to be more than just an art exhibition. There are already links with local schools and a programme of school visits is planned, with relevant material available for teachers. There is an exciting programme of workshops, including an art appreciation course and other events involving creative writing, music and drama as well as visual art.
Wesley is looking for volunteers to help with a wide range of tasks, including transport, painting boards, etc., in readiness for setting up the exhibition; stewarding; helping with school visits. There are two briefing sessions for prospective volunteers, on Thursday 5th July at 2pm or Thursday 12th July at 7.30pm.
By September we will be in the same Circuit as Wesley, the new Chester and Delamere Forest Circuit. It would be good to give as much support as possible to our new friends. There is more information on their website or in the flyer here, and there will be more details nearer the time.
Since our last article in April, I am pleased to report some positive changes here at Chapel Fields Care Home.
We have now recruited Susie Treeton as our Chaplain, who joined us on the 8th May. She will be a focus for the spiritual life of the Home, ensuring that the spiritual needs of our residents and staff are addressed. We look forward to stronger relationships between MHA and the local churches and faith communities as a result of this new role. Also, we are pleased to welcome Mandy Woo who is our new Reflexologist. Reflexology has huge benefits to our residents who enjoy the one-to-one time that each session provides.
Chapel Fields will be undergoing refurbishments over the next few months. While disruption will be unavoidable during this period, it will hopefully be kept to a minimum. Many areas in the Home will be refurbished and the finished result will certainly be worthwhile. We have welcomed three new volunteers, who are helping with activities and events within the home. This support has already had a huge impact on the well-being of our residents, and we look forward to expanding our volunteering roles.
On this note, we are looking for a volunteer to assist with our Music Therapy sessions. Currently, our Music Therapist offers individual and group therapy to meet the emotional and psychological needs of our residents, in a way that promotes their self-esteem and freedom of choice in order to pursue a better quality of life. Our Music Therapist works with our residents every Monday. The volunteer role will involve enabling residents to participate in group sessions, using basic instruments. So if you have an hour to spare at 2pm on a Monday, then please contact our Volunteer Co-ordinator on 01928 734743.
Some of our residents recently enjoyed a trip to the theatre to watch a musical production at the Brindley Centre in Runcorn. They also had a lovely Easter celebration, making Easter bonnets for a competition to win a giant Easter egg. There was also music and dancing which was enjoyed by all! We also received positive feedback from our residents who participated in reminiscence sessions, using museum objects, kindly loaned to us by the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port.
On Friday 20th April we held a coffee morning, welcoming members of the local community into the home. This was a great success, raising £50 for the residents’ fund. Therefore we want to say a huge thank you to all those people who came and gave us their support!
Written by the Minister & Members