For those who listen to Prayer for the Day on Radio 4 (either early in the morning at 5.43am or later on the iPlayer) the series next week beginning Saturday 30th April will be led by the Wales Synod Chair, Rev. Dr. Stephen Wigley.
Although not a complete surprise in light of the job losses announced in January, the recent decision of Tata Steel to sell all it’s UK business nevertheless comes as devastating news to communities across south Wales, not just to Port Talbot but also to the communities around the steelworks in Llanwern (Newport) and Llanelli, as well as Shotton in North Wales.
We recognise the importance of the critical talks underway involving both the Prime Minister and the Welsh First Minister and their cabinets about the future of the British steel industry, and we hope that in these discussions there will be the same kind of strategic consideration given to the importance of the steel industry as was given to the financial services industry when that was under threat, as well as a commitment to financial support for those communities most directly affected.
Our focus will be on being the church in the midst of just these communities, and for us this will involve particularly the Neath Port Talbot, Buckley & Deeside, Llanelli & Carmarthen and Newport & Lower Wye circuits, and so we ask your prayers for Rev’s. Chris Gray, Rosemarie Clarke, Flis Randall and Preben Andersen and their colleagues in these challenging times.
Some may ask ‘What is the message of Easter’ to these communities at such a time. There are no easy answers to give and the challenges are very real. However, I am reminded that the Easter message includes both the harsh reality of Good Friday as well as the joy of Easter Sunday and that our risen Lord still bears the scars of the Cross. It may be that our best witness will be simply to stand by the Cross in solidarity with those communities which are suffering and bear witness to the God whose love ‘bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.’
Stephen Wigley, Synod Chair
(We also understand that there may be a further article coming out in next week’s Methodist Recorder)
Superintendent Minister of the Buckley and Deeside Circuit, Revd Rosemarie Clarke and preacher in training Ms Michele Jones visited all the churches of the Circuit on foot over two days, a distance of 31 miles. Praying in each church they also raised over £500 for Sport Relief.
The Wales and Cymru Synods were delighted to welcome Rev. Steve Wild and Dr Jill Barber to Wales in the spring sunshine last week. We began with their coming to the meeting of Y Cyngor (in Shrewsbury!) on the Thursday after which Steve came down to South Wales to share in a meal hosted by the Tongan fellowship in Pontnewynydd and then to address the hundreds gathered in Blackwood for the Big Sing, while Jill visited places of historic interest in the Llanfyllin area. On Friday Jill travelled to Aberystwyth to renew contact with old friends from the time when her husband Peter was minister there in 1984-94 while Steve visited Mary Jones World in Bala and was able to hold a facsimile version of Mary Jones’ Bible. On Saturday we travelled to North Wales where Steve and Jill together addressed a gathering at St Paul’s, Abergele, before Jill returned home to lead a special service at Englesea Brook commemorating the centenary of the recognition of Conscious objection to serving in the armed forces. Steve continued on to visit St Winifred’s Well in Holywell and then shared in a Circuit tea at Mold, before leading worship on Sunday morning at St John’s Llandudno (and then flying out to the Isle of Mann to address a youth rally on the Sunday evening!)
It was an action packed visit shared across the 2 Synods – but one full of energy and encouragement, and there will be many people who will have had their photo taken with the President via ‘selfies’ taken on his tablet. We wish them both well for the remainder of their Presidential year – and note that a fuller account of their visits across the year can be found on their BlogSpot at http://www.methodist-presandvp.blogspot.co.uk/
Sunday Worship on 28th February will be coming from Gresford Methodist Church near Wrexham. The service is one of a series of services following the CTBI Lent course on ‘Pilgrimage’ and will be exploring the theme ‘Becoming Present’. It will be led by the Superintendent minister of the Wrexham circuit, Rev. Richard Sharples with the Synod Chair, Rev. Dr. Stephen Wigley, as preacher and music from the Sirenian Singers. The service will be broadcast live on Radio 4 from 8.10am.
The notes for this week’s ‘Word in Time’ Bible Study (from 31st January – 6th February) have been prepared by the Synod Chair, Rev. Dr. Stephen Wigley. They are taken mainly from Mark’s Gospel chapters 6 & 7 and follow the theme, ‘Jesus – Shepherd and Teacher.’
You can find the notes on the main Methodist Church website at:
Following the news of the job losses at Tata Steel announced on 18th January, Rev. Chris Gray, Superintendent of the Neath Port Talbot Circuit writes:
“The Neath Port Talbot Circuit consists of nine churches and has two congregations in Port Talbot. One, Taibach Wesley, is a small congregation who worship in the shadow of the steel works. The other, Sandfields, is a church serving a large estate originally built in the 1950’s and 60’s to house steel workers and their families. The members of both churches will continue to bear witness to the God who brings light and hope to all who turn to him. Although there is no formally constituted “Churches Together” in Port Talbot, local churches work together very well in a number of significant ways (foodbank, shopping centre nativity play, CAP and Police Liaison Committee, for example.) So please pray for them and for the wider community of Port Talbot.
The staff of the Neath Port Talbot Circuit, in consultation with Rev Rick Hayes, part-time chaplain to the Port Talbot Steel works, will now be part of a team of people willing to listen to those who need to talk with someone about their situation. As yet, no workers have been told that they have been selected for redundancy; but when that time comes there will be the need for listening ears, support and encouragement for those whose future is now so uncertain.”
We also anticipate there will be an article about this appearing in this week’s Methodist Recorder.
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As I’m sure you are aware, Storm Desmond has caused immense disruption, with schools, hospital services and travel all being affected in addition to the thousands of homes that have been damaged and hundreds evacuated.
Many communities are gathering together to provide relief and assistance to the areas worst hit by the flooding, including Sandylands Methodist Church who have worked in conjunction with volunteers and local organisations to offer support.
For those of us who cannot give our practical support, however, there is still much we can do and I know a number of you have already asked how you can donate to the relief and clean-up work. The Revd Richard Teal, Cumbria District Chair, reminds us of the wonderful response that the Methodist people made in 2009 and says that “the devastation this time is worse than before”.
The Cumbria Community Foundation, which played a significant role last time, has set up a Cumbria 2015 Flood Appeal to raise funds to support the individuals and communities devastated by the flooding. Richard suggests that this would be the best conduit for donations and we are very happy to endorse that call.
More information, including full details of how to give, can be found here. Please pass on this information to your circuits, churches and members, as well as considering a one-off donation from your district. I am aware too that Cumbria is not the only part of the country that has been affected by the storms and we are mindful of all those who may be struggling to respond to other pressing priorities locally.
The Revd Richard Teal has asked that you join him in prayer for those affected by the flooding:
Creator God, we remember at this time all those whose homes and communities have been damaged by flooding in Cumbria.
In the name of Jesus we give thanks for the courage and dedication of the emergency services who have come to the help and rescue of all in need.
We celebrate the kindness of neighbours in caring for the most vulnerable.
Lastly, we ask in the power of your healing Spirit to rebuild not just the physical communities which are coping with many problems today but also to give us a sense of trust in your goodness through the kindnesses of one another, in Your Holy Name.
Thank you so much for supporting the people of Cumbria through prayer and action at this difficult time.
Head of Mission and Advocacy, Methodist Connexional Team