Preparing for Jonah Bible Month

Bible Month Learning Event
Perth Methodist Church
Friday 2nd March 2018
10 am to 3.30 pm

The Methodist Bible Month Initiative, provides churches and circuits with an opportunity to focus on Jonah for an entire month (June is suggested), with support  materials being made available via the Connexional website. The Bible Month Initiative is an important response to the challenge of developing biblical engagement and biblical literacy throughout the Connexion.

In preparation for the Bible month, Professor John Drane and Olive Fleming Drane will lead local preachers and worship leaders, small group leaders and anyone who would like an opportunity to enhance their biblical knowledge and understanding.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided; there is no charge for the event.  Perth’s premises were refurbished in 2017, and provide a warm welcoming environment for study and fellowship.

To book a place please contact Fiona at the Scotland District office, making her aware of any specific dietary requirements.

The Learning and Development Forum for Scotland and Shetland wishes to offer financial support to people who may require to book overnight accommodation in Perth, or travel from Shetland. Our notional position is that we will pay one third of the travel costs from Shetland  and one third of the accommodation costs for folk from either district who require overnight accommodation in Perth (up to a joint total of 15 places), in the hope that local circuits or district funds might also contribute one third. Should you wish to avail yourself of this opportunity please inform Fiona and Gary Williams, National Learning and Development Coordinator – Scotland & Shetland, will then get in touch.

This event has been arranged in conjunction with a evening meal and meeting on Friday, and a day event ‘Reimagine Church’ on Saturday.

Reimagine Church Forum

Perth Methodist Church
Saturday 3rd March 2018
10 am to 3.30 pm

Trey Hall, church planter, coach and mentor, will lead participants in exploring how to revitalise existing churches and start new churches. Reimagine Church is an important initiative within Methodism in Britain and Trey has been sharing important insights and knowledge gained from experience. Trey is aware of the challenging context for Methodism in many places and his work to date has been warmly received and found to be relevant and helpful by Methodists in other districts.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided; there is no charge for the event.  Perth’s premises were refurbished in 2017, and provide a warm welcoming environment for study and fellowship.

To book a place please contact Fiona at the Scotland District office, making her aware of any specific dietary requirements.

The Learning and Development Forum for Scotland and Shetland wishes to offer financial support to people who may require to book overnight accommodation in Perth, or travel from Shetland. Our notional position is that we will pay one third of the travel costs from Shetland  and one third of the accommodation costs for folk from either district who require overnight accommodation in Perth (up to a joint total of 15 places), in the hope that local circuits or district funds might also contribute one third. Should you wish to avail yourself of this opportunity please inform Fiona and Gary Williams, National Learning and Development Coordinator – Scotland & Shetland, will then get in touch.

This event has been arranged in conjunction with the Preparing for Jonah Bible month and  a evening meal and meeting all on Friday 2nd March,.

United Nations Treaty on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons

Janet Fenton at the meeting in Dunbar

The recently signed United Nations Treaty on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons was the subject of a talk by Janet Fenton at the Methodist church hall in Dunbar on Monday 30th October at a meeting sponsored by Dunbar Peace Group and the Methodist Peace Fellowship

Janet was one of the Scottish representatives that contributed to the negotiations leading to the signing of the Treaty in July 2017.

The Treaty binds its signatories to ban nuclear weapons. This includes a commitment not to produce or to develop nuclear weapons. It also outlaws the possession of nuclear weapons or allowing other states to deploy nuclear weapons on a signatory state’s territory.

With more countries possessing nuclear weapons and with defence systems more and more dependent on computers rather than human beings, the risk of a nuclear war (by accident or on purpose) is currently increasing. And even a ‘small’ nuclear war would kill a huge number of men, women and children, either directly or through the longer term effects of radiation, sickness and famine.

Janet noted that although the Scottish First Minister supported the Treaty, the Westminster government had boycotted the negotiations and refused to sign the Treaty. She called on people in Scotland to take a lead in encouraging the UK government to get rid of Trident and commit themselves to abolishing nuclear weapons.

ECG – Equipping, Calling, Going

ECG – Equipping, Calling, Going is an event with a Methodist flavour that has been influential in shaping the spiritual journeys of many Methodists.

 Next year’s event will be in the Scarborough Spa Complex from Tuesday 3rd – Sunday 8th April.

 Our main Bible teacher will be Rev Dr Elaine Heath, Dean of Duke University, leader of the Foundation for Missional Wisdom and author of books such as ‘The Mystic Way of Evangelism’ and ‘God unbound:Wisdom from Galatians for the Anxious Church’. She is world renowned for her 21st century interpretation of the Methodist tradition and will be exploring Wesley’s 5 means of grace in her bible studies.

There will be a seminar streams and workshops on different topics including a stream on healthy church hosted by Revd Graham Horsley, Connexional Fresh Expressions Missioner exploring themes of discipleship – what it means to be a Spirit-led church and engaging with the wider world with Kingdom values.  Each session will involve sharing stories from a number of people doing exciting projects so that a practical pragmatic approach is taken, exploring real successes and the problems that have been overcome. There’ll be opportunity to ask questions and share your stories too.

 We continue to develop our exciting 18-25s programme developed and resourced by leaders from the 18-25 age bracket. This is one of the most British significant gatherings of young leaders in the Methodist tradition.

 We also have a full programme of children’s activities led by the Pulse Ministries, a range of fringe events, outreach work.

 If you’ve been – you know how good it is. If you haven’t we hope you’ll join us for some post Easter spiritual refreshment – better still bring a group from your church.

 Bookings can be made through the website www.ecgevent.org.uk where an early bird discount is applicable until 30th Nov. Accommodation at the Grand Hotel, Scarborough can be booked through the office. 

Pause and Pray

‘Pause & Pray’ in Nicolson Square Gardens, Edinburgh

Forth Valley Circuit

Some months ago, during my daily devotions, I experienced what I’ll call a ‘God nudge’ to actively encourage prayer, both inside and outside of church life. Specifically, the call was to take prayer outside of church buildings and on to the streets! As simple as that!

I had previously organised a small ‘prayer station’ in a town centre in the North West of England but wasn’t at all sure about doing something similar in the middle of Edinburgh. That seemed to be a very different proposition. However, the idea was well-received from across the Forth Valley Circuit and people gave generously of their time, help and resources, especially on the day itself.

Located in Nicolson Square Gardens, close to City of Edinburgh Methodist Church, ‘Pause & Pray’ took place on Saturday 30 September and equipped with a (fairly) weather resistant gazebo, a specially-made banner, a prayer tree, a variety of Christian resources and an art activity at the ready –  we were good to go!

This was certainly a step of faith as none of us knew quite what to expect. We had prayed for the conversations which would take place and especially that God would go ahead of us. Just how much God was already at work in the hearts and lives of the people we met would become apparent. We had no agenda other than to be a Christian presence in the centre of Edinburgh, representing the Methodist Church in Scotland and being willing to engage with people and enable prayer to be offered. In the process, our own faith was both challenged and strengthened.

Nicolson Square Gardens is often frequented by people who are homeless or in difficulty of one kind or another, and who may also be dependent on drugs or alcohol. Whilst other members of the public who were walking through Nicolson Square Gardens did stop by, it was the group of men and women who often make the Gardens their base for the day, who offered the most engagement and made me very glad that ‘Pause & Pray’ had become a reality.

There were some memorable encounters. One man kept reminding us that he was praying it wouldn’t rain! We did get the odd shower but not the downpours we could have had. We met a woman who was unable to take away any resources because her pockets were full of holes and there was evident hunger amongst those who eagerly took handfuls of sweets that were on offer.

For some, the opportunity to pray also became a focus for remembrance. The majority of people we spoke to had suffered bereavement or loss of some kind and perhaps up until now, had not had the means to express or mark these losses in any way. Names were lovingly painted on stones or written on cards and hung on the Prayer Tree.

          

It’s difficult to quantify ‘success’ with this kind of event and perhaps that should not be the aim of a prayer-based outreach event. What really matters is that people were listened to by those who had time to do so; prayer and care was enabled, finding practical expression in the ‘Blessing Stones’ art activity and in written prayers for the Prayer Tree. The prayers from both these activities were subsequently included in the Prayers of Intercession at City of Edinburgh Methodist Church.

What next? We pray that the Spirit of God will continue to move in the lives of those we met even only briefly. And in considering how we might follow up on the ‘Pause & Pray’ event, we also pray that we might remain open to prayerful, practical and meaningful ways of sharing God’s blessing with others. Further creative prayer ideas from across the Connexion would be warmly welcomed. Thank you!

Deacon Elizabeth Harfleet