This evening, Thursday 14th May, will see the North Cheshire Circuit's streamed weeknight worship service.
Please come and join us from 7pm at:
This evening, Thursday 7th May, will see the North Cheshire Circuit's streamed weeknight worship service.
Please come and join us from 7pm at:
In 1971, John and I went out to Kenya to work, John for a firm of consulting engineers designing water and sewerage treatment plants, myself to teach in a state primary school. We fell in love with Kenya from the very beginning: the wide open rolling plains teeming with wildlife; the forests and hills of the Aberdares and Mount Kenya; the salt lakes with their vast flocks of flamingos; the fine white sandy beaches and coral reefs of the coast – and the people, especially the children!
This was just eight years after independence, and there was a sense of freedom and optimism for the future. Sadly not all those hopes and dreams have been fulfilled. Development has been patchy and there are still huge problems, not all of their own making. Indebtedness to Western governments and organisations has hampered growth. The rush to the cities in search of the ‘streets paved with gold’ has spawned the slums of the shanty towns. The effects of climate change have resulted in degradation of the coral reef and prolonged and serious periods of drought inland over several years (they are currently in the midst of the longest and most severe drought in living memory). The north of the country has been overrun with refugees from neighbouring Somalia, and there have been terrorist attacks both there and even in the capital, Nairobi, itself, which has hit the main foreign currency earner, the travel industry.
And now, Coronavirus.
Imagine trying to self-isolate if you live cheek by jowl with hundreds of others in a slum, or on a village compound with several generations of your extended family. Imagine trying to wash your hands several times a day when your only source of water is the village stand-pipe, or a river bed a couple of miles away.
I was pleased, therefore, to see that Christian Aid is focussing on Kenya this year for Christian Aid Week, which runs from May 10th – 16th. They want to support the country as best they can, through their local partners on the ground, to mitigate some of the effects of the pandemic, to provide clean water to help halt the spread of infection.
It will, of course, be a very different fund-raising appeal this year. In normal times, many of us would now be steeling ourselves to set off door-to-door with our envelopes, a task which we often dread but which is much more pleasant when it happens. And there would be fund-raising events, like the Big Breakfast, or sponsored walks, to boost the funds. In a normal year Christian Aid raises about £8 million in this week alone.
As a church, we are unable to make a collective response because of the lockdown. However, if you would like to give something, however small, as an individual, you can do so via Christian Aid’s ‘Just Giving’ page.
Also, all profits from the sale of the music CD ‘Michael Gough … in the Gallery’ are being donated to this cause. Michael is a member of Norley Methodist Church and is training to be a local preacher. He is also an excellent guitarist and composes much of his own material. Please donate on-line, or buy the CD (via PayPal).
**The below reflection is published by kind permission of Professor Clive Marsh, Vice President of the Methodist Conference 2019-20. It was first published yesterday in Theology Everywhere, where a reflection on an issue or topic is posted each Monday. All are welcome to subscribe.**
We are using a whole new language. (‘Are you on mute?’, ‘Send me a link’, ‘Are you the host?’) Digital natives (those who’ve lived with computers since birth) are simply saying ‘welcome to our world!’ (the new real world?). Those not au fait, or even wanting to be au fait, with such technology are saying ‘but I’m now not part of the “we”’ you’ve just referred to. So when this is all over, I won’t be within what you’re calling “the new normal”.’ And I won’t even mention the question of ‘Zoom Communion’. I’ll just say it’s at times like this I’m glad I’m not a presbyter. No one can buttonhole me (even virtually) and ask why on earth we can’t ‘do Communion’ across the WWW and expect me to be able to do anything about it.
‘Zoom Communion’ is, though, just the tip of a very large iceberg of issues raised by the digital world for the ways in which the church conducts itself, undertakes its mission, and in which theology takes shape. I can quite see why those who actively explore ‘digital theology’ become exasperated with a church which seems to go at a snail’s pace when, from their perspective, ‘things have to change (and quickly)’. I can also sense (and sometimes share) the alarm of what might happen if too many changes happened too rapidly, and too substantially.
There can be little doubt that when our lockdown ends, or as its strictures are gradually relaxed, when social distancing is eased, and when we take stock of what has been happening in recent weeks, digital theology will have more allies, or sympathizers: ‘you know, that Zoom thing really is good. It’s got me thinking about the different ways our theology of conferring could happen.’ ‘Pastoral care could be thought of differently, you know, than we’ve been doing it for years.’ ‘More people might be willing to join in with meetings, so we could have a more diverse group.’ ‘Class meetings could make a comeback.’
That’s only the positive stuff, of course. There are counter-arguments too. Lots of people I know are ‘Zoomed out’ already through all meetings and one-to-ones going online. Plenty are missing seeing others (really seeing), not to mention the extroverts who need their hugs. I’ve been wondering myself whether I’ll get things wrong ‘after lockdown’ – or at least behave awkwardly – by hugging people I’ve never hugged in my life before (and can’t honestly remember whether I have) simply because I’ll be so pleased to see them. It will take a while to adjust after the initial re-assessment of social relations (actual and virtual). But we will, I hope, start to ask harder questions, and in fresh ways, such as: when do we need to meet in person? What is best done online, not just for money-saving reasons, but also for the sake of resisting climate change, and to save time? And these practical questions are caught up within a bigger range of issues of direct theological import, not least about creation, Sabbath, and what ‘church’ is anyway.
Behind those hidden, theological framework kinds of questions other, even more basic, stuff is buzzing around too. What is ‘really real’ anyway? The terms ‘virtual’ and ‘real’ have become fuzzy, but have helpfully pressed us to say what is ‘real’. ‘Fake’ has also intervened as an overused, but still important, term. ‘Virtual’ is not the same as ‘fake’. But the realm of the ‘fictional’, the ‘made-up’ is tangled up in there too. This has always been the case in the worlds of faith, belief and theology. We do make things up (even some of our God stories) but that’s only because it’s sometimes hard to get at what’s true and real (really real), as what’s real and true has never simply been about ‘what happens’ or what we can prove (scientifically).
I recall that one of the first pieces I ever wrote which had to do with the Internet (20 years ago? I can’t even remember) was prompted by claims that it would give us a whole new understanding of the Holy Spirit. I’ve seen some of the thoughts I put on paper back then re-emerging in articles and blogposts which have appeared in recent weeks. The Holy Spirit is really real, even whilst not visible, and yet seems very active as people connect ‘virtually’.
A new insight brought to my attention in the lockdown is how inclusive some new more informal forms of church are proving for those on the autism spectrum. People can be involved (e.g. doing a craft or art activity at home amongst family members) in a ‘bigger congregation’ without necessarily having to look at the camera, and without the stress (for them or for other family-members) of ‘going to church’.
All I hope, in the post-lockdown phase of the church’s life, is that we don’t get polarized, and that we do really reflect carefully and appropriately critically on the experiences that we’ve been having. For some, it will be about ‘getting back to normal’ (for which read ‘proper worship’). But what if the online worship has sometimes felt more ‘real’ than some of our past Sunday activity? What if we find that online life has added a new depth to what we go back to experiencing on Sunday (or Monday, or Wednesday, or whenever our face-to-face worship happens)? There will, in other words, need to be fresh considerations about what is real, and what helps us connect with the Really Real (I’m sure someone must have used that term for God before) in all our post-lockdown theological debate – whether or not the word ‘theology’ itself is used.
Professor Clive Marsh
Vice President of the Methodist Conference 2019-20
This evening, Thursday 2nd April, will see the second of the North Cheshire Circuit's streamed weeknight worship services. This week's message is from The Rev'd. Jo Brown.
Please come and join us from 7:30pm at:
Why not subscribe to the channel too while you're there!
Frodsham Methodist Church's Christmas Tree Festival 2018 was officially opened by the member of parliament for the Weaver Vale constituency, Mr Mike Amesbury, MP, last night Friday 7th December).
The Christmas Tree Festival is open on both Saturday and Sunday, and Sunday will see special worship services amongst the trees.
Do come along. We hope to see you there.
Join us to celebrate the charities and voluntary organisations that work so hard in our community.
Fun afternoon with activities, food tasting, a walk ans a talent concert.
More details to follow.
The Cheshire Churches Together Service for 2017 will take place in Frodsham. It will be celebrated at St. Laurence Parish Church on Sunday 22nd January at 3 pm.
We are privelaged that the preacher will be Rev’d. Dr. Roger Walton, President of the Methodist Conference. The focus will be on reconciliation between our different Churches and promises to be a rewarding time. Dr. Walton is former Director of the Wesley Study Centre in Durham and the author of a number of books and articles.
You are all most welcome and encouraged to come and share this time together.
Check out our Calendar for a listing of all events.
Frodsham Methodist Church Sunday 10am Worship on YouTube.
The reflections here are written by members of our congregation.