A plan for the future

  As the number of weeks until my final acts as an itinerant Methodist minister enters single figures, I realise just how uncharted the territory ahead seems. Our new home near Scarborough will be my 25th place of residence. The 24 so far have had one thing in common, they were never likely to be a ‘forever home’, not least because itinerant ministry means each new job requires moving home. Though once again we must move on , this time it might just be the final time we have to strike camp and set off to a new place. Looking beyond where I lay my head, I am however very much experiencing something new. Throughout my adult life there has always been a clear next step and it has begun to have shape long before the actual move. From school to university, to teacher training, to teaching jobs, theological college and then the discipline of Methodist stationing. At each stage I have had some idea of what I would be doing, and the diary has begun to form long before hitting the new groun

Time to sit down

  I remember in detail my initial stationing form completed as I was ready to come out of Lincoln Theological College in 1991. I drew a line across the map and asked to be stationed north of it, have two or more congregations, and hopefully significant chaplaincy in hospital or prison. Retford circuit lay just north of the line, I shared pastoral responsibility for eleven churches with the superintendent and spent two days each week on the chaplaincy team at the very secure Rampton Special Hospital. So itinerant ministry began with everything I wished for! Rampton provided the most formational and fulfilling context for ministry I could have experienced, a unique community where I got to know some incredible people, staff and patients, like the bank robber who arrived late one night from prison where that morning he had discovered his son hanging in a neighbouring cell, and who turned out to be a talented wood carver who was commissioned by one of my churches to carve a beautiful cro

a rosy glow

 We yearn for the past - because it is somehow enveloped in a rosy glow. You know the sort of thing - 'it was always warm and sunny in the summer and life was much simpler when we didn't have a hundred TV channels to choose from'. So my memory tries to convince me that during my early childhood, it was always sunny and warm and I played outside all the time and bedtime was when 'the lines went up' (our family pet name for the credits) at the end of Coronation Street on one of the two available TV stations. There is certainly a glow around these memories, as rosy as my cheeks on the many photos and cine films which no doubt colour my recollections. My bedroom was a place of warmth and safety, where dad read me a story and fed Big Ted with fruit gums each evening. So, it came as a surprise to find that first bedroom featured on Zoopla  4 bed detached house for sale in Widdrington, Morpeth NE61 - Zoopla . Only it is no longer a bedroom, but the family bathroom in a spe

Proclaiming past, present and future

  ‘He will wipe all tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, suffering, crying, or pain. These things of the past are gone forever’  (Revelation 21:4)  My favourite musicians ‘The Proclaimers’ are about to release a new album titled ‘The world that was’. The lyrics of the opening track have just been revealed and one line has really caught my attention: ‘worship of a past that never was is totally demented’ . Craig and Charlie have never minced their words, and here I think they have again got it spot on! (watch video above) A special moment of my sabbatical was spending time at Ampleforth Abbey in North Yorkshire. This community of prayerful Benedictine monks has provided me with sanctuary and inspiration many times. The theme for the formal part of my retreat this time was ‘The Transformative Journey’.   Based on the writings of Franciscan, Richard Rohr, a small group of us were led through a series of reflections on the ups and downs of life. Our retreat leader Fr.

some holy moments

 As I reach the point in my sabbatical when I must recognise that it is coming to an end, I reflect on three glorious months during which I have experienced so much, learned things about me and the world which shaped me, and slightly unexpectedly discovered new worlds of possibility, filled with exciting visions of a world constantly reshaping and renewing. I signed off at Easter in the Circuit newsletter by describing some of my hopes and activities that would come together in my search for the 'pennies', the significant places, people and experiences, that have been the foundation of my life. I have done some of all the things I planned, as well as finding many unexpected delights along the way. The way in which the significance in each of the elements has balanced out has surprised me. This is what I wrote before I started. Our ministry can be an intensely lonely experience in which we are too often seen as ‘different’ and put on a pedestal, from which we spend our time cari

Hazard perception

 Bikes, scooters, e-bikes, e-scooters, cargo bikes, bikes carrying 3 children, a cargo bike carrying 3 traditional bikes, mopeds and e-mopeds, roller skates, skateboards and even an electric unicycle;  the roads (and more worryingly the pavements) of Hackney sometimes feel like a battle ground for space, and that's before factoring in buses, cars and vans. As a cyclist, pedestrian and occasional driver amidst all the mayhem, I sometimes wonder how to avoid all the hazards. So a day discussing 'perceptions of self driving vehicles' had a special fascination. Part of a government funded study a small group of us gathered in engineering workshops at Imperial College London. We heard about the technology which will eventually lead to fully autonomous vehicles taking to our roads. A timeline of 10 years was suggested to get to the point where human intervention in the journey can be completely eliminated, but the progress will be rapid and we can expect the rapid introduction of

making all things new

 The underlying theme of my recent musings grew out of an interest in ordinary, domestic architecture and design. The new residential communities of the 70s and 80s changed the way we live, where we live and the landscape around us.  But, taken house by house, estate by estate we don't recognise just how big those changes were, yet the lure of the 70s villa and its successors have had dramatic effect. We just need to stand back and take in the sheer scale the changes. Especially in the current political and economic climate, which can feel as though it is replaying the darkest moments of earlier decades, it is tempting to suggest that in reality 'nothing much changes'. If there is truth in that, maybe it is because we are scared by the breadth of possibility which lies before us and convince ourselves that tiny, incremental change is all we can cope with.  I moved out of my cosy, domestic interests to visit an exhibition of the work of architect Zaha Hadid. Known the sweepi