Sunday, 29 November 2009

Blogging on the train again...

Now the London side of the Kent Coast line tunnels there's a window of opportunity to update the blog before the long tunnel under the Downs at Sevenoaks, so here goes...

It has been a different week having had two reflection days at college in place of the usual lectures. Monday afforded the opportunity to finalise another assignment for the Introduction to the Bible module which is now in my case ready to hand in tomorrow (a week ahead of the deadline!). Tuesday saw a structured retreat day led by Rev Ian Stackhouse of Guildford Baptist Church. These two days were punctuated by dinner at the Walters' - my London hosts - in the company of three of their friends and Will. (Will had been Bloomsbury's summer intern from the US and it was good to see him again as he spent Thanksgiving in the UK.)

Returning to Walmer we met in Church Meeting on Wednesday which was a positive time both dealing with the business of the church and also spending time refelcting on the first 'few' weeks of my Pastorate. It was very encouraging that in our though shower exercise the list of positives grew and grew on the flipchart pad whilst no-one could come up with a negastive and so we changed 'negatives' for 'aspirations' and then were able to come up with a number of suggestions.

Thursday saw a visit to one of our oldest members now confined to bed in a care home in Broadstairs. Although she may not have fully comprehended who I was or why I was visiting, she did seem pleased to have had a visit and it was good to report to the church she was OK.

Friday heralded a visit from my Spurgeons Field Placement Tutor and my Supervisor to check all was progressing well. We had a good session and hopefully another round of boxes have been ticked as the Ministerial training process continues. The day ended with time spent decorating the church for Advent before Friday Night Pizza.

Saturday saw a modest indulgance with a shopping expedition to Canterbury the nearest one can get to anything like my London retail experiences although it must be noted that on this occasion no further additions to my wardrobe were added.

Sunday, dodging hail and torrential rain to get next door to the church, saw the official beginning of Advent with the lighting of teh first candle on our advent wreath. The sermon took the form of a period of 'waiting' as we watched images on the screen of a variety of people and situations where individuals were waiting and thus reminding us that we too need to wait - wait upon God.

Monday, 23 November 2009

That was the week that was!

Last week was a hectic week which kept me away from Walmer for 4 days. The usual two study days at Spurgeon's were followed back to back with two days at Didcot to learn the inner workings of Baptist House.
A three line whip was in place for all first year BU students at the Baptist College's in South Wales, Bristol, Manchester, Oxford and London which brought together a group of around 75 ministerial candidates.
It proved a revelation that a number of the group had very limited knowledge of the way both the Union and BMS operated and the benefits that both coudl offer to churches in supporting ministry in our Baptist Churches.
The BUGB day afforded the opportunity to publically praise Graham Sparkes and his team in the Faith & Unity department for all their work especially raising public issue debates and prompting Baptist responses. It was also good to ask whether the annual Assembly format might be looked at to increase grass root participation from local churches.
BMS World Mission offered slick and 21st century presentations including two live link-ups with Missionaries in the field.
David Kerrigan did not warm to the question as to whether our 'Baptist' identity might be asserted more overtly in the mission societies title.
Many of the group noted with regret that the hospitality offered by BUGB departmental staff was almost exclusively confectionery - none of it Fairtrade - and much of it be Nestle. Not a very ethical witness!
Returning home it was good to find the local paper had chosen to report our Armistice Day remembrance in the town's cemetery and also included a photo of our recent presentation of Bibles to 60 pupils at our local school in partnership with our Anglican neighbours.
Our Advent and Christmas cards are now available for distribution and hopefully will be well used by the congregation to communicate with our community what we have planned for the next few weeks.
We rounded of the church year with Christ the King Sunday and a sermon prefaced with the National Anthem being played - it was fun to see the 'Mexican wave' ripple across the pews as the congregation responded and stood.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Between Lunch and Lectures

Catching five minutes of relative quiet between lunch and the start of aftrenoon lectures it seems a good time to post an update on the blog.

After the storms that blew across the south of England at the weekend it is good to be still for a few moments.

Looking back to last week, it was good to mark the two minutes silence on Armistice Day at the graveside of Pte William Bennet buried in our local cemetery after drowning at the sinking of HMS Formidable on New Year's Day 1915. William was one of 9 church members whose names are recorded on the memorial in church. It seemed right to remember him and all the fallen of conflicts in this way and 8 of our present congregation accepted the invitation to join me.

The hail storm on saturday was more than a little scary as golfball size hailstones rebounded off my study window. Unfortunately these and the accompanying gale force winds appear to have damaged two sets of sceondary glazing on the church which gives the treasurer a new headache to enage a galzier and see whether our insurance cover might help defray this additional expense.

We continue to attract new faces on Sunday and a family -probably from a neighbouring fellowship - added to our number this week.

As we begin a process of updating our contacts list and encourage the sharing of time and talents to support the work here, it is good to see 2 folk have ticked the 'want to know more about becoming a member' box.

College started with a fire drill to interupt the quiet and calm of the library and morning lectures but the sun is shining which bodes well for the day at least.

This week promises 'the joy'of two days at Didcot which is compulsary for all students. (It's a shame this clashes with the Ukrainia Choir visit to Walmer.) Watch this space for news of how the week goes...

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Blogging on the train...

This week's update comes to you as I endeavour to fill my time usefully as I travel to London on the train. The journey this week is subject to a diversion to avoid engineering works which gives me even more time to type away.

It has been a good week which started with positive feedback from Dr Pieter Lalleman, the Academic Dean, on his visit to Walmer last Sunday to hear me preach. As the first 'victim' of our college reflection group to go through the experience my fellow students were pleased to note the experience, for me at least, had been positive.

Returning to Walmer the routine of the week quickly fell into place with study time early each morning and then the usual round of paperwork, prayers and Seeing Jesus sessions.

This week's Friday Night pizza gave way to our Spud and Sparkler evening, the first major outreach event we've run. As it was raining hard we were glad to have our firework fun in the warm and dry where we could enjoy our jacket potatoes in jovial company.

After a mildly frustrating day getting the technology set-up the youtube videos of both a bongire and the Madrid Firework Spectacular (17 minutes long) kept everyone entertained.

Almost 40 people shared in the fun; several fringe folk anf family members and a few 'old faces' from the past.

Research into the names listed on our war memrial revealed that one young lad who died in 1915 was buried in our local cemetery prompted the basis for the children's talk on Remembrance Sunday. (It also gives folk the opportunity, if they want to, to join me at the grave on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.)

The service was many said 'very moving', 'the best Remembrance Service for years'.

Now I journey to London to meet my support group at Bloomsbury which will, I hope be an encouragement to me and to them.

After my two days of study I return to a meeting early on Wednesday with my supervisor, a meeting of the local Ministers Fraternal and later on Friday with the local Baptist Ministers Newtwork.

Another busy week lies ahead...