October was another very busy month that began with an ‘Open PCC Meeting’ at my home church, St John the Baptist, Littleworth. In particular we explored ‘Celebration’ and ‘Challenges’ and ‘The Way Forward.’ We took Colossians 3.1-17 as a base guide. I always find focusing on ‘celebration’ as well as ‘challenges’ is very important, especially as we are in a Vacancy at the moment. Negativity can soon set in, as can personal or group ‘kingdom building.’
My ‘rural ministry’ continues to flourish and it is a delight to get to know and be known around the rural community of Staffordshire. In this I am riding on the coat tails of Bishop Geoff Annas who was the President of the Staffordshire & Birmingham Agricultural Society.
I have also followed our retired Rural Officer in being appointed as Honorary Chaplain to the Society.
Added to this is my role as Chair of the Staffordshire Farming Community Network. FCN works closely and is supported by YFC (Young Farmers Clubs) and this month I attended both their Harvest Service and then a wonderful occasion of a Presentation of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services.
Also keeping with ‘rural’ I joined a small group of Rural Officers from the ‘Midlands’ for a very pleasant lunch at The Farmers Fayre, Stoneleigh.
Three Preachment's this month (the transcript of my sermons are on my Blog - Gordon's Blog Spot) My ‘usual’ monthly visit to St Anne’s, Brown Edge. With numbers below double figures it is a real challenge to think about the future of this church. In a similar vein, a visit to St Werburgh in Kingsley. This is part of the Mid-Churnet Benefice of five rural churches, some of them very small, but for the most part, well appointed with kitchens, loos and in some cases, chairs and carpet! Their Vicar is retiring at the end of October and I am going to walk alongside them during their Vacancy. I had a very good meeting with the Church Wardens and the Ministry Team following a whistle stop tour of all five churches.
My other preachment was at St Paul’s, Forebridge, Stafford. Their Vicar has asked if I can help them reflect on how this church of mainly elderly folk, yet with a thriving Messy Church, can grow and serve the local community. It sits on a very busy road with no car parking, yet does have people regularly walking past.
At the end of the month I had a fascinating week of lunches in five different places!
On Monday (23rd) I was at Selly Oak as Trustee for Rural Mission Solutions. www.ruralmissionsolutions.org.uk
On Tuesday I was in Knebworth for the Farming Community Network AGM and Harvest Service.
On Wednesday in Stoke and a lunch time meeting with Revd Sister Janet Arnold, new into the Diocese and our County Ecumenical Officer, Robert Mountford. In the evening, we also had the Wash-Up meal for the Staffordshire County Show Church Tent Core Team.
Thursday I was in Kingsley – as above. On Thursday afternoon we travelled down to Cornwall for our son’s birthday. Our two grandchildren also tried on their Flower Girl dresses for Auntie Tabitha’s Wedding.
Some items from the Captain's Log for November 2017
Annual Dinner for the Staffordshire& Birmingham Agricultural Society. (Both Jane and I are attending this black tie event)
FCN Staffordshire Group Meeting
Speaking to the Mothers’ Union (Trentham) about my own faith journey and helping them think about how they can both know and share their own faith stories.
Review Meeting with Bishop Geoff and Archdeacon Matthew. An extended time as we plan for my retirement (2019) and succession on certain projects, like the County Show.
Meeting with Martin, Vicar at St Paul’s. (See above) In the evening a Rural Mission Solutions Webinar at 8pm. This is a repeat of the one we did on the 21st October as we experienced a few technical glitches. You can register at www.ruralmissionsolutions.org.uk
Mothers’ Union Autumn Council Meeting. Over lunch time, Stafford Church Leaders Prayer Meeting and exploring how we engage with Hope18 following a presentation by Roy Crowne at last months Leaders Prayer Meeting. www.hopetogether.org.uk
In the evening representing FCN at the Young Farmers Club AGM.
Spiritual Companion to JC. In the evening, Littleworth, Tixall and Ingestre Benefice Vacancy Prayer Gathering
Stafford Clergy Chapter (in attendance)
Rural Officers Conference (only going for the one day of this two day gathering of National RO’s)
Review meeting in the evening for ‘Connect2’ a Fresh Expression of Church that meets at St Anne’s Primary School, Brown Edge.
THE WEDDING! Tabitha & Peter
at St John the Baptist,
FCN Three Counties Training Day.
Personal Quiet Day
Church Army AGM and Community Day in Sheffield
The conclusion of the CPAS Thrive Community Gathering. www.cpas.org.uk
Prison Fellowship Prayer Meeting.
Spiritual Companion to JM.
Day Conference (Woodstock) - the ‘Association of Festival Churches’
From the 28th November until the 3rd December I will also be looking after an FCN Christmass Tree during the Christmass Tree Festival at St Mary’s, Stafford.