Powerless against the Earth's forces







After preaching I went to the beach. I grew up in Kent so really miss the ability to get to the sea in Bradford. As the waves crashed in, we realised afresh the massive scale of the Tsunami in Japan and the force of the waves to sweep things away. We can build sea walls and wind breaks, but we are powerless in the face of the forces the Earth unleashes from time to time.


Have courage!

I was preaching at Hull Mission on Sunday morning. Strange that Hull is still in Yorkshire because it feels very different from Bradford. I had been asked to preach about new understandings of church .... pertinent when the 30 strong congregation are worshipping in a hall big enough for 600. I was glad that Somewhere Else and Touchstone had both made the transition a while ago and so I had some insights to share. Mostly my message was 'Have courage!'

Poetry and Weaving

Amazing poetry evening with Awais - great how poetry reaches the parts religion often fails to reach. Not that I could understand many of the poems as they were in Urdu, but the rhythm, particpation and lyricism spoke deeper than words.

I also taught a 7 year old to weave - she LOVED it!

International Women's Day

I preached at International Women's Day at the Cathedral - it was quite a gathering and very moving to have prayers led by Muslim women as well as Christians. We also had Katie Kirby from the Connexional Team with us for the day, so it was good to share a bit of Bradford life with her. I wonder why we had 'true British sandwiches' after the service; I think we could do better on international food - but the company was good!

A prayer

Restless God
We pray for everyone who is unsettled
For gypsies by blood or persuasion
For those who have no home
For people who cannot rest

Restless God
We pray for everyone who is unsettling
For the deranged
For those who are not at home in their own heads
For people who cannot rest

Restless God
We pray for everyone who is unsettled
For the migrants
For those who have been trafficked for their bodies
For people who cannot rest

Restless God
We pray for everyone who is unsettling
For asylum seekers
For those who fear the knock of dawn raids
For people who cannot rest

Restless God
We pray for everyone who is unsettled
For people with disability
For those whose pain causes long sleepless nights
For those who cannot rest

I pledge
That I will not rest
Until all God’s people
Are sheltered in this place

Not going to plan? Whose plan?

It was great when Soul Space got locked out of the German Church and adjourned to my front room (pity I haven't got any furniture, but the floor was packed with people!). Ian Hu was visiting from Liverpool and the gospel reading was 'The Transfiguration'. We were very soon talking about how the church can be transformed and learning from experiences in Liverpool and Bradford. Sometimes, when plans go 'wrong' they are actually going right!

A prayer

Thanks be to you
Waiting God
Who stands at the threshold
Of all that is possible
And holds fast in steadfast hope.

We praise you for the perseverance
Of your love
For the unbounded expectation
Of your promise
For the encompassing of your far reaching gaze

We thank you that you have found us
Amongst the odd, the troubled and the unlikely
And that in the finding
You have embraced all that is possible
Within us, through us and despite us

You are the God of all homecomings
Who questions not where we have been,
Or what we have done,
Or why we have left
But only why it took us so long to return

Learning the hard way

There's been a lot happening, so not much time to blog .... so now here is catch up time!

A study day at the cathedral on how to manage conflict proved quite a challenge. I began preparing for it with the thought, 'I don't know anything about conflict!' but sadly soon realised that I did.

I have also been in an awful tangle with the weaving because I took some wool off the winding machine the wrong way round and instead of getting looser as I put it on the loom, it just got tighter and tighter - aaaargh! I realised (eventually) that the knot was a good illustration of what happens in conflict situations, things can escalate from skirmish to all out warfare if we pull in the wrong direction. Loosening knots takes a lot of time and patience!

Nothing like learning the hard way!

A prayer of Confession

Trouble is we have approached the city like a structure
And not a human dwelling place

Trouble is, we have treated the urban environment like an object
And abused our shared space

Trouble is, we have related to each other with arrogance
And forgotten our common humanity

Trouble is, we have viewed the streets as hostile
And overlooked our mutual responsibility

Trouble is, we have given others status
And been unconcerned with challenging injustice

Trouble is we have forgotten that God was crucified in a city
And continued to overwhelm each other with power

Trouble is, we have made the city in our image
And not lived well enough to declare it good.

A massive tangle

We have just got ourselves out of a massive tangle!

The weaving went horribly wrong and ended up looking like a plate of Chinese noodles!

Anyway, after much patience (and much cursing) we are back ready to weave again. It's been interesting though, how we have taken it in turns to sit down with the tangle and chat with each other as we have gone along. Because of that tangle we have got to know each other a whole lot better!

I've been away on the Common Good weekend - a conference organised by the Joseph Rowtree Foundation for leaders in Bradford.

There were around 35 delegates and we worked hard addressing some of the contentious issues of the city - cousin marriage, the activities of the EDL, the debt culture that keeps people in poverty ...

One conversation decided that the opposite to 'Common Good' was 'Unconnected Good'. There are a lot of good people around in Bradford but it is not always easy to make the connections between our work and to achieve sustainable community cohesion.

It was good to talk, but mostly to meet with other community leaders at a deeper level that just occasional meetings. Thanks to JTF for organising the event!

Speakers, conversations or puddings?

So why go to the Methodist City Centre Network Conference? For the speakers or the conversations or the puddings? I guess you would get a different answer from all three of the Touchstone staff who went!

The first night was a bit boggling but, after an apple crumble or two, we were soon finding points of connection. The highlights for me were to listen to Rev Lucy Winkett, who helped us not only learn about the importance of silence, but also shared the valuable information that London busses are not red on top (she lives in a high rise apartment at Picadilly Circus!) The point being, that things look different when we change the place from which we look. How true of Bradford!

And despite the initial ribald laughter of many colleagues, our own Methodist Vice President, Eunice Attwood shared insights of her work with sex workers in Newcastle and brought a deep reflection to all of us who work in city centres and need to keep our eyes and ears open. It was an extremely challenging and inspiring presentation.

A prayer:

As a hand reaching downward
As a laugh soaring upward
As a thought flowing inward
As an ache moving forward

Be with us, the city dwellers
Steady us, inspire us, taunt us and challenge us
To remain here
As love-bearers, as rage sharers, as truth speakers

As a hope holding, as a challenge walking


Alive and full of possibility

I spent Thursday clearing out my office. Hurray for volunteer Rosalind whose favourite pastime is moving furniture! Now my office is cleared of all the old junk and ready for me to sort out a filing system that goes forwards rather than backwards!
From my window I can see McRory's bar - one day will I be looking back at the 'Old Touchstone'? Tomorrow is our staff awayday to work on the feasibility study ..... but just because something is or isn't feasible doesn't mean it's right or wrong. All our decisions need to be overlayed with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Are we or are we not moving up the alley?!
Here's a prayer to share:
Daring God,
Help us to know what to keep and what to discard;
What to treasure and what to relinquish;
What to hold down and what to let fly.
And in all things, may the dance of your Spirit
be our rhythm and our song.
For you long for us to be alive
And full of possibility
To be both faithful
and fearless.

Great new logo!

Well, it’s like the old one but more colourful – and it’s made of wool! So, we are beginning to look different as well as feel different in the Touchstone house.

There seems to have been lots going on this week. Plenty of visitors calling by which has required a plentiful supply of chocolate brownies! Whilst David has been ploughing on with exploring our possible move to McRory’s bar, Ruth has been into the University in her new role in the chaplaincy team and Barbara has been in court (helping the chaplains!)

Awais meanwhile has found some new contacts who can help us with the Writers for Peace group – well done Awais!

Oh yes... and then there’s the great plan about umbrellas... watch this blog!

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