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  • Jargon Busting

    Yesterday I attended my first School Governors' Meeting at the local Primary School.  Accepting this role has caused mixed responses from my Deacons but hey, we say we want to get more involved in the local community...

    I don't think I've ever heard so much jargon in one meeting - not even in the days when I did PSA and HFA for AGRs!  Thank goodness for Google, I now know what SEF and Panda mean in a schools context but still have to grasp a whole lot more acronymns.

    Somehow I ended up being the governor who links (but not in Governor language 'cos that means something else) with the teacher responsible for music!  I'd rather have RE, science or numeracy - but my Anglican colleague, also a former engineer, had beaten me to it.  That and having to pick a 'cohort' to follow - I chose year 4 'cos at least they can talk to you!

    It did make me realise though, how much jargon there is in churches that we all take for granted.  Aside from the weird concepts of 'sin' or 'salvation' there's all our institutional stuff which varies across traditions.  Try explaining to my sister's 8 year old that her Mummy being a URC elder is the same as my people being deacons and neither is the same as Methodist or Episcopal diaconal understandings!  Actually, try explaining it to my deacons...

    So now back to preparing for the DM (Deacons' meeting) with a report from the PMT (Property Management Team) the FG (Finance Group) and some correspondence from EMBA re: HMF (East Midland Baptist Association regarding Home Mission Funding)!  And not a furry mammal in sight... 

  • Table Talk

    As one of our Lent initiatives this year, I decided to have a go at 'Table Fellowship,' even though I wasn't exactly sure what that was meant to be/do!  I offered 6 Monday evening slots for groups of up to 5 to come to the manse for a meal during which we'd talk over a Bible story and share bread and "wine" (grape juice).  The plan had been to choose 6 different stories of meals Jesus shared and talk about them in six different groups.  In the end only two groups came and I opted to use the same passage each time - the Lukan account of the annointing of Jesus at the home of Simon the Pharisee.

    It was interesting to see what each group homed in on in the story, the themes that emerged and so on.

    The first group, all women, all retired, tended to wander off course quite regularly but were fascinated by the woman and her actions: why had she gone in the first place, why did she take this perfume with her, how much did she cry to make enough tears to wet someone's feet, how come no-one threw her out.

    The second group, mixed, and a bit younger (50 +!) were more focussed but were more intrigued by her 'sinful' nature and whether her hair would be too greasy to dry feet with!  They stressed the symbolism of the washing - a few tears easily wiped away - and were (apart from the personal hygiene topic!) more overtly spiritual in their discussions.  A lot of energy went into considering why it is that one who has been forgiven much loves more than one who has been forgiven little, and why it is that churches are full of 'nice' people who take their salvation for granted with little sense of joy or extravagant love.

    It is fascinating to compare how the groups worked with the passage and to reflect on the insights they drew from it.  They were two good evenings and worth repeating at some future date - perhaps not as part of a special series but as an occasional part of the worship life of our fellowship.  It was certainly a relaxed way of approaching 'Bible study' and made for two pleasant evenings for those who took part.

    Of course, one person, should he ever meet the woman in the story will be itching to ask her 'do you use Head and Shoulders'!

  • Clustering Delights

    Yesterday was our annual cluster service - the time when our four local Baptist churches share a service, usually with a visiting preacher.  Last year was our turn to host but our venue wasn't available so we decamped to the Methodist church down the road.  This year the host church was sans floor, sans electricity, sans anything useful as it is being refurbished, so they decamped back to our venue i.e. the local Primary School.  This may all sound very confusing but I think it says a lot about where we are as a cluster: three out of four churches are small and in times of major transition.  As a result all are learning to become very adaptable and to discover that God does not live in a box called 'church.'

    Our service was led by the BU president, the Revd Roy Searle and we'd given him a brief to lead in the style of the Northumbria Community as we felt it would be good for our folk to experience a different aspect of authentic Baptist (whatever image that conjures up!) worship.  So five happy ministers (the one big church has two) imported candles, post-it notes, pots of daffodils, pictures of the local area and enjoyed some creative prayers, some Northumbria Community songs and some 'text telling' by Roy.  Most people enjoyed the service which brought a strong message for all us of based on the John 21 miracualous catch and commission of Peter.  I guess I'm biased, this is one of 'my' significant passages, so I felt God was talking directly to me encouraging me to continue to nudge Dibley into the C21.  Still trying to work out how Roy got away with saying that our building (the closed one) was 'quite naff really' - maybe Presidents have a special annointing!

    After the service we had a bring and share tea and if not 12 baskets of leftovers, certainly plenty for all to enjoy.

    We distributed the pots of daffodils - one to each church and one to Roy as an informal sign of hope and as a tangible reminder of our connectedness (Brian-ism, and maybe a hint of Rachel-ishness too).  Roy moves on to the North West, we move on in Leicestershire but all the time God is there, one step ahead, to the right, to the left, above, behind, beneath, bringing  hope and a future.