Friday, 27 April 2007

Annual Parochial Church Meeting 2007

We had one of the best Annual Meetings in recent years last night. It's been a very full year in the parish, with the major developments including the Lighthouse Christian Fellowship leaving the oversight of the Church and a big refurbishment at St Paul's. The meeting was entirely constructive and, thanks to Vivien's skilled chairmanship, over in time for some of us to enjoy a pint at the local before closing time.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Should a church have elections?

Tomorrow evening, we're holding the Annual Parochial Church Meeting (7.45pm at St Peter's). As part of the meeting, elections are held to appoint churchwardens, deputy wardens, PCC representatives and DCC representatives.

These are necessary and important roles, through which members of the church community can share in the decision-making process of the parish and church. I've noticed that, in Oadby, almost all of the time these elections happen without a vote - in other words, the number of candidates matches the number of vacancies. I've frequently heard people say that they want to stand, but will stand down if someone else wishes to be nominated instead, to avoid a vote.

At first sight, this is a generous and charitable courtesy. But I wonder if it really works for the church, and whether it represents something like settling for less than the challenge which scripture puts before us as a community.

The obvious result of this kind of maneuvering is to spare any pain of rejection that a nominated person may feel if not elected. I understand that, and sparing each other pain is certainly a good aspiration. But it strikes me that a healthy Christian community has sufficient genuine humility and capacity to work through pain to cope with this sort of disappointment. I sometimes fear that the desire to avoid elections might indicate insufficient confidence in this capacity of the community.

In the bible, people are chosen, and some are not chosen, to take specific responsibilities for God's mission. Being 'not chosen' may not be a particularly pleasant experience, but with sufficient grace and love, it can be handled well.

A genuinely Christian perspective understands that courage is required to face the vulnerability that comes from being available, but not necessarily chosen. In the book of Genesis, the jealous brothers of Joseph couldn't handle this kind of thing, but many more examples, especially in the New Testament, show that faithful disciples, apostles and would-be deacons took that risk.

Elections that are contested mean something. They mean that the person chosen, for that moment, and in that role, has the genuine confidence of the Church. Without a vote, only the candidate himself, or herself, has excercised any choice. They are also a safeguard against the inappropriate and inadvertent election of people who aren't suitable.

Please pray for all those who are willing to stand for office this year, for their willingness to take on a specific responsibility and for their openness to vulnerability.

The Methodist Covenant Prayer, adapted by Jo Williams, expresses the openness to risk being not-chosen, in a very helpful way:
I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
Put me to doing, put me to suffering;
Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,
exalted for you or brought low for you;
Let me be full, let me be empty, let me have all things. Let me having nothing.
In my learning and exploring; in my seeking and finding help me to fully and freely yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Baby Massage

One of our friends at St Paul's, Robbie Simpson, is about to start a baby massage class. Robbie has done wonderful work with the Parkinsons' Disease Society in their monthly meetings at the Barnabas Centre. Now she is about to deliver a six-week Baby Massage Class on Friday mornings from 20 June, in the Barnabas Centre.

Contact Robbie on 0116 271 7899.

Christian Aid Week 13-19 May 2007

It's the fiftieth anniversary of Christian Aid
and, as usual, Churches Together in Oadby are going to undertake a door to door collection. The funds we collect will go to support the work of Christian Aid in over fifty countries, where projects help people of every faith to improve their own lives and tackle the causes of injustice and poverty.

At the start of the week, the annual Christian Aid Walk begins with a picnic lunch at St Paul's at 12.00noon. The walk begins at 1.00pm and is ten miles, with an option for a shorter walk of six miles. The route is along public footpaths, mainly across the fields from Oadby to Evington, Bushby, Houghton, Houghton Lodge, and then back to Oadby. More details from Colin Chettle.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Marathon Success

Congratulations to Neil Griffiths, who successfully completed the London marathon yesterday, in record high temperatures.

Sponsorship for Neil is supporting a major project for Leicester YMCA. The project is to increase the awareness amongst young people in Leicester and the county to the dangers of HIV and AIDS. To contribute, visit

Thursday, 19 April 2007

New church furniture

The beautiful new church furniture was delivered in time for Easter Sunday and has drawn appreciation from all quarters.

A Christian craftsman, Glynn Walker, made all the furniture from European Oak, with Rosewood and Iroco inlays, to designs which were developed with Colin, Vivien and others.

Every piece is unique to St Paul's and enhances the offering of worship in a way that's worthy of the praises that we want to give.

At the Easter Sunday service, we dedicated the furniture with this prayer:

Almighty God, we thank you for the vision, the skill, the patience, the generosity of gifts and the love of you, that inspired the making of these beautiful things. We offer them to you because they are not an end in themselves, but because we want you to take and use them for your glory.

We pray that at this table, those who thirst and hunger may find hospitality, refreshment, and the blessing of communion with you.

We pray that from this lectern, your true and living Word will be faithfully taught, for the building up of your people in faith.

We pray that at this font, many new believers will be warmly received into the fellowship of your people.

We pray that the Cross, which we put up at noon this last Good Friday, may be a sign and symbol of your love, a testimony to the grace and mercy that took your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to the depths of the grave and to the glory of heaven. May it inspire those who look upon it, challenge all indifference, give hope to the discouraged and draw us to you.

Heavenly Father, consecrate these furnishings, not with these words, but through the use and service to which they are put, in loving service to others, and to the glory of your name. Through our risen Saviour, Amen.

How to peel a banana

On holiday last week, I learned how to peel a banana.

My friend Emma showed me how the conventional method that had served me reasonably well for nigh on forty years was a sub-optimal solution to banana-peeling.

I've always held the banana with the stalk at the top (actually this is upside-down, given that bananas grow upwards, but you know this already, don't you?) I then pull back the stalk and hope that the kinked stem splits. This then lets my finger in to begin the peeling. This is the way the banana shown here has been peeled. I bet you do the same.

Turns out that monkeys do things differently. They hold their 'nanas with the stalk down (the 'right way up') and pick at the junction of the four sections, at the end of the fruit. This doesn't sound promising, but I had to try it and I confirm it works really well.

This made me wonder how I learned my conventional inferior technique. I guess my parents passed it on to me and, given that my interest has always been primarily in tucking in to the banana, I've never really stopped to ask if there was another way in. I probably live with lots of habits that have developed over a lifetime that are less than the best for me and those around me. What a thought.

New Tuesday Group

Six people met for the first Tuesday Group in the Barnabas Centre, which is a really encouraging start. This group is an addition to our regular house-groups, which are already a great way to get to know people better and to learn more about the bible in a friendly, non-threatening way. All are welcome to join the new Tuesday group, which meets between 1.30 and 2.30pm, particularly those not in a home group already. See Jill Williams in church (or call her on 2712337)for more information.

Hooray Day - 28 April 2007

Collect an enrolment form from Derek (or email me) for the next Hooray Day. Hooray Day is a mini holiday club for children in school years 1-5. Youngsters come from all over Oadby and South Leicester to join us for a day of fun and learning about Jesus.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Quiz Evening with Fish and Chip Supper 7.30 Friday 4th May

Bring a bottle. Tea and coffee provided. Cost £6.00 per person teams of 4 max. Please get tickets in advance from Paul. Prizes Galore.

Thanks, Paul!

Monday, 16 April 2007

Small acts of kindness

We got back from our holiday and found that some kind soul had taken the black bags of rubbish from our bins, so that they could be collected. Since we had missed the collection the week before, I was dreading returning in the midst of our unseasonal heatwave to find piles of stinking rubbish. Whoever did this, thank you.

Yesterday a family arrived late for church because they had stopped on their journey to rescue a lost dog. They found a number on its collar and were able to return it safely to its overjoyed owner.

Two small acts of kindness that needn't have been done but which made a difference. May God give me grace to respond generously when I can help someone in a small way, and the grace to be thankful for all small mercies.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

What's your bible like?

In church this morning, Rebecca showed me her new bible. It was a rather nifty little number, just the right size for her handbag, and its cover was made of a rather swish suede-type stuff. I was impressed.

I was even more impressed that Rebecca's "favourite bits" were already well thumbed. We chatted about the working life of a bible - is it five years, ten years, or what?

I've got several bibles, as you might imagine. The one I reach for most often lives on the shelf behind me. It's a battered hardback New Revised Standard, about eight years old, the spine of which is sellotaped. I bought it while studying theology and for me it evokes happy thoughts of new discoveries about the wonder of scripture.

I'm not much of a note maker, but there are a number of highlighted and underlined sections. I can't remember exactly why I did this at the time, but the passages are certainly important ones.

Now, what's your bible like?

Hit the comments link under this post and let us know. In particular tell us:
  • Roughly how old it is
  • Where you keep it
  • What version it is (NIV, NRSV, Good News, King James etc.)
  • Anything that makes this bible special to you
Go on! Hit that comment link now...

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Easter dawn at St Paul's

He is risen! Alleluia! It's going to be a great day!

Picture taken about 25 minutes ago. Click the image for a larger view.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Slow blogging

Holy Week is one of the most intense periods of the Christian year. Blogging has rather dropped down the priorities in an over-busy week.

No time for details, but the highlights (so far):
  • The honest and wise sharing of a group beginning to look at Christian Perspectives on Death and Dying.
  • The inclusive liturgy at the Diocesan Eucharist, which now affirms the particular ministries of lay people, and the commission to ministry in the general sense that comes to all God's people at baptism.
  • The baptism of Sadie, at the Maundy Thursday celebration of the Lord's Supper.
  • Sunshine on Good Friday.
  • The sharing with a congregation from Churches Together in a service on Good Friday night, especially the videos from IgniterMedia.
  • Long hours with the gospels in preparation for several sermons.
  • Preparations for a big surprise (wait and see!) on Sunday morning, as we celebrate the resurrection.
Next week I have some time off, so a break from the blog as well, and more time with my much-neglected family. Happy Easter!

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Ladies' Sangam Group

This new group is to take over the Monday morning slot once used by Sab-ki-Awaaz.

The Sangam group is for ladies from all cultures and age groups. Children are welcome and refreshments are available.

The launch event of the new group is 30 April. from 11:00 to 13:00. For more information, contact Jacky York on 0116 257 2675.

Wholeness and Healing Conference - 12 May 2007

The fourth diocesan conference on Wholeness and Healing is to take place at Emmanuel Church, Loughborough from 9.30am to 3.30pm on Saturday 12 May 2007.

It's billed as "A day of encouragement, celebration and vision, looking at what a holistic ministry of healing should mean"

The key-note speaker is Bishop John Finney.

Further details from 01455 234241

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Churchgoing in the UK

TearFund, a respected charity that I support, has today published a major piece of research on Churchgoing in the UK, available in PDF format here. I've not had chance to read the full report, but the executive summary announces the key findings as:
  • Over half the population claims to be Christian, other faiths total 6%
  • 7.6 million attend church monthly (including 4.9 million weekly)
  • Nearly 3 million likely to go in future
    "There is a clear opportunity for churches to attract new members by tapping into the 2.9 million people (6% of UK adults) who are likely to go to church in future. The personal touch is a major trigger. A personal invite, family or a friend attending or difficult personal circumstances, are most likely to encourage people into church."
  • Two thirds are out of touch with church
  • Nearly 1 million adults attend ethnic majority churches
  • 22% of London goes to church
  • 45% go to church in Northern Ireland
It looks like a useful document, and the fact that almost three million people declare themselves likely to go to church in the future should encourage us to remember that there is a great opportunity to help others to active faith.