I am speaking at the National Safeguarding Conference in Tewkesbury. An amazing hotel setting in acres of golf course - and around ninety delegates from the Methodist and Anglican churches who are really working hard on ways to safeguard vulnerable children and adults. I have led two sessions on awareness of survivors of church communities .... informed by the listening work of Touchstone. It confirms yet again that we are right 'on message' with our 'listening community' and that this work is key to the well-being of church communities and neighbourhoods. Listening is not an optional extra and it is key to effective mission and discipleship.
Yep, Touchstone have got their vision to a tee ....!
Our first creative day in the yurt - we were designing a 'welcome sign' in English and Urdu with the help of local artist Shaeron Caton Rose - SO many conversations in the cathedral from curious people poking their heads into the yurt!
It was just the staff today - we are practising opening up the space for the whole community ...
So many people say to me that Bradford's future lies with the women - so here I am having a conversation with the Lord Mayor and others about an award ceremony for Women Making a Difference awards to be held in the Spring. The Town Hall is such a friendly place, especially when the women get together around a cup of tea.
Maybe we will also learn to walk on the water like the men!
NO blogs for a while due to knee troubles. So, grounded for a while and missed both Awais's Christmas and Eid party and most of the Christmas 'at home'. Never mind, the pictures will have to follow from another source.
We might only be a little way into January but lots has happened already!
Today's excitement has been the arrival of the yurt! YIPPEE!! It's now up in the Cathedral - lots being planned!
Bradford Ecumenical Asylum Concern - BEACON - held their AGM at the Delius Centre. Delius was born in Bradford, and the centre also hosts the German Church where Bonhoeffer signed the treaty against the Nazis. Bradford has always been a cosmopolitan city, with people from all over the world finding their way here, either by design, economic circumstance or trafficking. The issues are multilayered, and the seam of story and insight is deep and rich.
The Beacon office is in the Touchstone house and sometimes we are simply full to bursting with people coming to consult the McKenzie Friends or have their asylum papers interpreted. We need patience as the house is far too small and space is inadequate. Beacon's work is growing fast with the impact of Government cuts. Their volunteers are magnificent and over stretched, they desperately need more families that can host an asylum seeker for a short time, they need volunteers to accompany people to the asylum court ....
Loving God, who commands us to love the stranger
Push back the walls of our hearts
To extend hospitality, practical help
And a listening ear to people who are lost, fearful
or far from home.
from this .....
to this .....
via a spinning wheel and a loom, and some negotiation with an old sewing machine ..... we did it!
This piece of weaving was made for somebody who is not expected to live much longer. Her friends are each creating something that represents her life and will sew them together to make a shroud. This one was woven on the Touchstone loom and the many colours and textures formed a meditative activity for which we were glad to offer space. Despite some of the colours clashing or not sitting comfortably beside each other, the silver warp ran through the whole - as the weaver said, God was always there even when not particularly visible.
well, actually I was just going to meet somebody off the train ..... but I did muse that sin got a lot of publicity .....
and even soul was illegally parked!
From each wisp a fragment spun
and fragments to the thinnest thread
wound round the fingers on one hand
Then plied for strength, the entwining twist
that turns to make a skein
wound tightly between strong arms
The loose ends straggling, on the floor
a question mark of wondering
pulled through the holes of half remembered things
Each colour chosen carefully, clashes negotiated
Pieces assembled, only making sense
A blanket, formed of wayward fibres
each hooked and held
and gathered in.
I have had this blanket all of my life, it was made by Molly, a woman with Down's Syndrome.
I always had it on my bed and, when poorly as a child, I used to choose the square I liked the most. We used it as the centre piece for our last Survivors' Retreat - a reminder that although we may feel full of holes, each of us can find strength connected with each other.
It's been an exciting week! First, the news of permission to buy McRory's (received on my birthday, and whilst at a District missions meeting!). And now, news of a successful grant bid to buy the pop up yurt! Suddenly, after two years of hard slog, we are beginning to see some return for our hard work!
This week also marked an event at the University organised by our One Student. He went over to ask people 'How are you feeling?' and received a whole list of responses, as well as a load of contact details so that we can invite people over for a meal.
We met more of our neighbours, rejoiced at someone offering to be a local preacher, shared a lot of concern for an abused child and ....
well, that's why we are here, it's good to remember that!