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- Page 6

  • Good Day...

    Today we repeated an experiment we did this time last year... we explicitly combined our church meeting and morning worship so that each was part of the other.  I guess having done it twice, it is now a tradition...  The great advantage was that we had more people present for more of the material, and we all got away earlier than if we had a normal service followed by a meeting.  I think we probably also had some better quality conversations because we were a tad less exhausted!

    It was good to meet and not make any decisions; rather we had some open-ended conversations to pick up again next time we meet.  There was no rocket science; no radical new ideas were shared... like any and every church we were simply revisiting perennial topics for a new season.

    Next Sunday is so exciting (for me) I could almost pop... so watch this space, cos it is going to be a-may-zing!

  • Portraits...

    I was recently asked to provide a photo of myself to someone who is collecting images of Baptist women  'firsts'.  Not exactly Miss Photogenic 2013, and not exactly sure what I look like anymore, I posted three possibilities on my Facebook page and invited my 'friends' to vote.  It was interesting to read the comments and reasons for choices, but the one they chose, and which will find its way into Baptist lore is this one:

    007.JPGIt was taken on the day of my 50th birthday bash at church, and I like it because I am wearing some of favourite colours.  It's also not too formal but not too casual either.  Of course a more honest portrayal would be the dragged through a hedge backwards look... but no-one said it had to be honest!

  • Sabbatical Research - Empirical

    In July I will be starting my sabbatical... and I have to say I am well ready for it, feels a bit like an uphill slog for the last few weeks, even if there are lots of wonderful things planned that I will enjoy on the way.


    As part of my work, I will be undertaking some empirical research arising from my cancer experience, and I am delighted that BUGB are "sponsoring" it via their Webwatch and other networks.  This what the blurb said that went out as the invitation to participate:

    Every year hundreds of people in our Baptist churches will receive medical diagnoses that permanently change their lives and we do our best to support them.  But what happens when that person is the minister?  How does s/he determine how to hold together in a creative way the twin challenges of private pain and public faith?  This is the question that faced Catriona Gorton on 23rd August 2010, a date etched on her memory, as the consultant she had met just a couple of hours looked her in the eye and said, “I’m sorry, it’s cancer.”  Choosing, with the support of her congregation, to work throughout her treatment, she, and they, lived with these twin challenges for the nine months of her active treatment, and continue to share the journey into a future in which uncertainty and chastened optimism are constant companions.  As part of her sabbatical studies, Catriona would like to reflect on her experiences, and to hear the stories of other ministers who have faced a similar challenge of holding together their role as a minister (public faith) with a life-threatening/life-limiting/life-altering diagnosis (not necessarily cancer; private pain) and its treatment.  To enable her to do so, she has created an online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8BPSDRV and would be pleased to receive responses up to 31st July 2013.  All replies are anonymous and will be treated in strict confidence, though short extracts may be quoted in support of findings, which she plans to write up with the aim of publication in an appropriate journal.

    Baptist (BUGB/BUS/BUW/IBN) ministers should use the link above.  If I have done it right, and not broken the original weblink, then it is possible for non-Baptist ministers to reply via this alternative weblink

    I am not meaning to be discriminatory by separating the Baptist responses, just need to be able to reflect a specific context which may differ from those of other of my minister friends and colleagues.  I am only seeking the input of ministers, not their partners or families, as I have to draw a boundary to keep the project manageable and meaningful.

    I am also happy to receive reading suggestions either by comment or email.

  • Yaba Daba Yoruba!

    Many thanks to the minister friend of mine in Yorkshire who has Nigerian students in his church, and who managed to get me a translation of 'O Happy Day' in Yoruba.


    Verse 1 and chorus:


    Ojo nla l'ojo ti moyan Olugbala l'Olorun mi,
    Oye ki okan mi mayo, Kosi ro ihin naa k'ale.

    Ojo nla, l'ojo naa ti Jesu we ese mi nu,
    O komi ki nma gbadura, kin ma sora, ki nsi mayo,
    Ojo nla lojo naa ti Jesu we ese mi nu

    Big thanks to Rev Jev and Amos.

  • Not sure...

    The song-writer Matt Redman has known his share of tragedy, something that surely informs the hymns/songs he writes.  The thing is, as I observe it, they are often sung by people who have not yet known personal tragedy, who can be quite glib and triumphalist in their singing.  The hymn "Blessed be your name" is profound and beautiful - but possibly not understood when belted out at full blast...

    In the last couple of years another of his songs, "Ten Thousand Reasons", has become very popular.  We sang it at the BUGB-BMS Assembly last week, and at the BUS-BMS Assembly last autumn.  Each time I found myself getting increasingly uncomfortable as people sang the last verse with huge gusto, eyes closed, arms raised and happy faces...


    And on that day when my strength is failing
    The end draws near and my time has come
    Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
    Ten thousand years and then forevermore


    To be confronted with our own mortality, to know that one day that will be us, not vaguely somewhere in the 'far distant future' but actually as an ever-present possibility, makes such words hard to sing.  Not because we have abandoned or lost the hope of which they speak, not because we have no desire for God's promises to find fulfilment, but because actually we know just a little better what we are singing.

    Like many other ministers, I have had in my congregations people with terminal diagnoses, people for whom the day "when my strength is failing, the end draws near and my time has come" is a very present reality.  The song does have something to say to that moment - not by high volume, high energy singing, but in the trembling voices and tear-washed faces of those for whom, or for whose loved ones, it is lived reality.

    I'm not sure we should sing it unless or until we grasp that, until we are ready to accept our own mortality and stop taking for-granted that tomorrow will always (or for donkeys years anyway) come.


    And day by day in my joys and sorrows,

    My hopes, my fears, my uncertainty

    Whatever life brings, and whenever death may call me

    Let me be singing confident in hope:

    Bless the Lord, oh my soul;

    Oh my soul worship God's holy name.

    Bring your heart to God, through it all

    And worship God's holy name.