I hadn't been in Bonnybridge for many years, but drove up the road (through the teeming rain!) this morning to participate in a conference organised for local churches by Rev George Macdonald, minister at Bonnybridge St Helen's Parish Church, and previously from Hamilton South & Quarter, which is how I know George.
The first session I led, talking about our own story here in Blantyre with Hillhouse and Trinity as our youth ministry has become ever more a shared ministry, and exploring the nature of cooperative ministry through this experience.
Jen Robertson, pictured, followed with a superb introduction to how we engage with scripture and prayer alongside young people. Some of the ideas I think will be used tomorrow night at the Cosy Café Sundays when we're looking at the "Big Question" of where the Bible comes from and what it means for us.
Another manic few weeks has passed as all the worship and age-group materials has been pulled together for Issue 3 of Spill the Beans, the resource materials that some of us have been working on for the last couple of years.
This is a mega 140 page behemoth, taking you through Lent all the way to Pentecost Sunday, and also includes ideas for Holy Week, an Easter labyrinth (which may look rather familiar to us here in Blantyre!), new songs written specially for this issue, and more creativity and idea-stirring than you can shake a stick at.
I must confess, despite the amount of work it is, that I do enjoy (mostly) editing all the pieces together. The creativity of the contributors is a God-breathed marvel. And on a rather selfish note, it really helps me to think about what we are going to be doing through our worship services in St Andrew's way in advance!
So, if you are wanting to purchase a copy of Issue 3, for the almost give-away cost of £12, then click on the button below and keep on spilling those beans as we share the gospel here, there and everywhere. You can make a secure payment via PayPal and then the file should wing its way to you. You have 24 hours to download the file, so if there is a glitch in the download (there were reports of this for a few folks with Issue 2) then just try again within this time. The Adobe pdf file is 8.38 MB.
It is official! Fiona Ogg will be moving to become minister of the linked parishes of Acharacle and Ardnamurchan in the Highlands. After preaching in both congregations, Fiona has received a call to be their minister. Congratulations to Fiona from all of us here in St Andrew's, it has been a real joy for us all to have been a part of Fiona's early days in ministry, and we pray she will be richly blessed in the years to come.
Fiona's service of ordination and induction will be on Saturday 3 March 2012, 1:30 p.m. Looking at the image above, who can deny the appeal of a wee visit to see Fiona?
In yesterday's minister's mailing I received the first flyer for the follow-up event to last year's Roll Away the Stone afternoon which took place at the beginning of the General Assembly week in May last year. Having learnt a lot from the experience of the 2011 event, this year's Heart & Soul 2012 looks to be an even better afternoon. I was involved as a stage manager last year and can testify that the range of people, stories and fellowship was truly representative of the breadth of the Kirk's interests and abilities, of which perhaps we (in our wee small corners) are not wholly aware.
This year they are planning an even more ambitious programme, and in particular are strengthening what is available for young people. We are thinking about dropping in to Heart & Soul on our way back from Scoughall with the Cosy Café Sundays group that afternoon, Sunday 20 May. However, it is open to anyone to go along from 1 - 6 p.m. and is well worth putting into the diary and making an effort to join. It takes place in Princes Street Gardens. The theme for 2012 is "seek, love, serve".
The worship alone with over a thousand souls gathered was such a memorable end to the afternoon last year, and there is the chance to join the massed choir, though you need to register on the website.
We began circulating at the last Cosy Café Sundays a flyer and booking form for a weekend away that the team is planning for mid-May (18-20 May). This will be held at the Scoughall Centre on the East coast near North Berwick. Some of the team and young people from the Cosy Café have been there before through Megamix and had a great time. We're looking forward to a fabulous weekend.
A couple of extra pairs of hands would be great to come along and assist as leaders or helpers, so if you are interested please ask me. You will find more details either on the flyer or at the Cosy Café Sundays page.
We had both a Burns theme this morning at the assembly in Auchinraith Primary and an entrepreneurial appeal by the Primary 1/2 class who have embarked upon a badge-making company which trialled this week with some Robert Burns badges before going into full-scale production with a whole range of badges next week. These include The Wanted, One Direction and... Cliff Richard?!?
I will wear my Rabbie badge with pride, well done to all the pupils!
I'm back in from a very fun night at the annual Burns Supper of the Hamilton Burns Club having been invited to be the principal guest of their President, David Ogg (centre). During the festivities at Bothwell Bridge Hotel, David gave the Immortal Memory, exploring aspects of Burns's life, some of which I knew, others that I was unfamiliar with: an enjoyable tour of Burns's life, and the reference to Club Inverary (the 18th century version of Club 18-30!) will certainly stick in the mind!
Following that, Craig Henderson (pictured on the right) gave the toast to the guests likening us to parasites, to which I replied in similar terms! [There's more...]
We began a challenging series of evenings at Cosy Café Sundays this evening with the question "What is God like?" as our theme. Last year we asked all the young folks what their big questions were and got a fascinating list of questions. We had said that we would look at some of these in the new year, so we are going to try to do that.
The opening question seems so simple, especially for us church leaders, to answer, but it proved a challenging evening to plan! Indeed we met on two occasions (albeit with other business at both meetings) to finalise the plans for this evening. Part of the challenge is trying to do justice to such a huge question in the hour or so we have for our discussions without trivialising the question. [There's more...]
This afternoon I met with Rev Colin Wood of the Church of the Nazarene, and editor of their denominational magazine "Together", and with Irvine Boal, official photographer for the magazine, down at the Nazarene Hall. They were interested to know how the Nazarene Hall was continuing to be used by us after we purchased the building back in the late 1990s.
It was a pleasure to show them around. Both had been in the building before in years past when the Church of the Nazarene had a congregation in Blantyre, and so they were very pleased to see how the building has been adapted to become a modern and adaptable space both for church and community use. The new layout of the hall, disabled toilet and brand new kitchen all evidence of the investment made in the building.
And they were both delighted to hear that the building that had become one that was only used for one hour of the week during the mid 1990s was now in daily use by a mixture of different groups as well as by ourselves.
Colin and Irvine were particularly touched that we had kept the name "Nazarene" in our naming of the hall, and took a photo of the new signage with Colin and yours truly so that they can update folks through the magazine with how this building that began as part of the Church of the Nazarene continues to be well used now as part of the St Andrew's Church Centre in Blantyre.
If, like me, you have always hankered after some way to automatically turn the pages of a newspaper when reading it over breakfast, then here is the simple and effective answer. Brilliant. And I believe no hamsters were harmed in the making of this...
Kudos to Joseph Herscher, and for having too much time on your hands.
Over the last few days a number of different strands of thought have been coming together in my wee noggin. It is strange how disparate things can all illuminate the same truths. The truths being about how we work together, how God works with us, how communities interact, even how nations see each other, and how politics work. So, small stuff really.
The different strands that have come together have been: listening to Carolyn talking about a technique of teaching called "Cooperative Learning" that she is very supportive of from her psychology background; finishing reading a book by an ex-FBI agent about interrogation methods for terrorism suspects; thinking about how churches can work together better; and pondering particularly American politics and culture in the light of the start of the process leading towards the next US Presidential elections. [There's more...]
The video created by our younger folks for the Watchnight service on Christmas Eve. The theme of how Jesus brings transformation and new life even into the depths of HMP Blantyre Young Offenders Institute...
After the video, and following the singing of "Tonight", all the young offenders, wearing their nativity outfits came bundling into the church with their prison officers, and the warden promptly broke down in a tearful thanks for how moving their performance was. Quickly followed by a return to their prison outfits, and then each of the Uz! Group was given a candle and with these lit they processed around the church back to their cells to the accompaniment of Casting Crown's "God Is With Us". Very moving.
This morning was the final schools event for 2011 with the Auchinraith Primary service in the church. I used the above video, which the chaplaincy team also used the previous week with our Christmas Assemblies at Calderside Academy. What a fantastic video it is... and the wee boy featured is local, attending Townhill Primary in Hamilton. A small world it is.
The blog has been pretty quiet over the past weeks: I told myself when I started the blog that the first thing that stops when stress levels ramp up must be the blog. No point creating a rod for your own back! But the strange thing is that I do miss the opportunities to sit and reflect on what has been happening, it can be surprisingly therapeutic to put down some thoughts. [There's more...]