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  • In Walking Distance

    This morning I had an appointment for breast screening (my second in 15 months...the inability of NHS Scotland and NHS England to communicate digitally is nothing is not ludicrous, but I was happy to take up the offer) and decided I'd walk to the hospital - after all, it was only 3 miles away, and I could do with the exercise.

    This photo was taken close to the main entrance of the hospital and looking across the road... this part of Cheshire is very rural, and the hospital is pretty much surrounded by open countryside.  Befitting its location, its quite a small hospital, but it has a good range of services, and has a unit served by the Christie specialist cancer hospital in Manchester.

    It was all very simple and straight forward, a familiar process in one of those rooms that could be absolutely anywhere. I enjoyed my walk, which included finding where the local crematorium and two cemeteries are located (all fairly close to home).

    Once again, I find myself reflecting on how very blessed I am to live and work in places where I have access to so much that is good and life-giving.

  • Church History

    I spent my afternoon reading the second part of the church history for my new church. Among others, things I have learned about the first hundred years are...

    • The church was founded by 11 men and 8 women, and the first meetings were held in a coffee bar. .
    • In 1907 and again in 1917 serious fires led to partial rebuilding.
    • In 1932, then in 1945 and again in 1956 the 'heating coil' in the school room burst... fortunately by the third time, they had cover from Baptist Insurance to pay for the repair. In 1963 they installed a new system that seemed to be still going strong in 1983 when the book was written.
    • The first 'lady' deacons were appointed in 1967 (that's five years earlier than my previous church, but still quite late compared to other churches I am aware of, many of which were 1930s)
    • Also in 1967, they were part of a local ecumenical initiative that included Roman Catholic churches before this was widespread elsewhere
    • They hung on in there in 1972 when two other local baptist churches, including the one that effectively planted them in 1882, left the BU (I assume over the Christology debacle of the time)
    • Like my last two churches, they are an Open Membership, General Baptist church, have experienced highs and lows.

    Church history is fascinating - what we include and what we exclude, and why. In a few weeks' time, I am hoping to involve folk here in creating their own 'timeline' which will help us all understand how we see ourselves, and what that might have to say to us...

    At least, so far as I can tell, there are no exploding heating coils left!


  • Regional Variations

    I remember when I moved to Scotland discovering that there were things I could no longer find in the supermarkets... but over time, and not a lot of it, I forgot about them, and began to enjoy things that were regional and local, at least some of which we new to me.

    One of the things I enjoyed - which weren't new, because eons ago my Mum used to make her own - was tattie scones.  So far I haven't found any in Crewe, but they do sell Warburton's potato cakes (also available in Glasgow should anyone wish to test them out!)  and this morning, as I have the treat of a slow start, I also had the treat of a cooked breakfast.

    Verdict: the potato cakes are delicious in their own right, but not quite the same as tattie scones.  So, if anyone happens to be visiting me from the Weege, and wants to bring a pack with them...

    I wonder what uniquely Crewvian (a word I just made up btw) things I will discover?

  • Celebrating Diversity in Worship

    All too often, ecumenical becomes 'beige' a lowest common denominator, offend nobody and please nobody either dull experience.  This morning, college chapel was anything but beige and was full of love, life and laughter.  Alongside the two denominational colleges, the 'Open College' attracts students of other traditions including Unitarians (with whom there is a longstanding relationship) and Pentecostals.  This morning, the lead was taken by one student from each of these traditions, as well as a really broad range of inputs, as we were split into four groups each being given a task to complete and share with the rest of the congregation.

    The Bible reading was 1 Corinthians 12 - the body of many parts - a great lead into reflecting on diversity.

    One group (the one I was in) was given the task of creativity with paper and chalks/crayons.  We opted for drawing round our hands, adding a word, and then inviting others to do the same.

    One group was given 'music' and taught us a song from the World Church.

    One group was given 'words'.  This group included a profoundly deaf student who taught us the BSL signs for a range of different words we use in worship.

    The last group led us in silence, providing us with a visual focus of leaves gathered from the grounds.

    We sang a Unitarian hymn about love; we joined in a Pentecostal chant of praise; we shared some responsive prayers.  And somehow, by the grace of God, it all jelled.  It was authentic, it was fun and it was an expression of togetherness.

    So glad to have been there. 

  • Worshipping Together

    This morning I used one of the 'all together' activities I have used a few times over the years with different congregations, but I have to say that today was by far the best level of engagement that I have experienced, with people of all ages and stages joining in finding jigsaw pieces and gathering around the Communion table to build the picture.

    Next week we will have some play/pray dough so we'll see how that goes!!