People might be interested to know that Radio 4’s Prayer for the Day through Christmas week (20-26 December) is being led by our own Synod Chair, Rev. Dr. Stephen Wigley; and for those who might be interested but struggle to be awake at 5.43am, a version can be heard later on the BBC i-player.
John Birch, a Local Preacher in the Llanelli & Carmarthen circuit (and creator of the http://www.faithandworship.com website) has a new book out with BRF, The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary. It offers a selection of prayers for each Sunday of the 3 year Common Worship lectionary which is clearly and attractively set out and benefits from John’s wide experience as a preacher and leader of worship and is available from BRF priced £11.99.
As we look forward to celebrating Jesus’ coming to the world during Advent and Christmas we are greatly blessed by many of our traditions. One of those traditions unique to Wales is the plygain service and its wealth of original Welsh carols used to sing God’s praises, share the Christmas story, and celebrate salvation in Jesus.
This year a new bilingual resource for Advent called The Plygain Tradition – a gift from Wales has been produced by the Methodist Church. This booklet of four studies based on the wealth of the traditional plygain carols was prepared by the Discipleship and Ministries Learning Network team in Wales. The four carols chosen for these studies take us on a journey that reflects the advent theme of waiting. They explore the nature of who and what we are waiting for; God’s incarnation in the form of the baby Jesus; and the response we need to give when the waiting is finally over.
This resource is part of a series of materials for small groups entitled Living Upside Down, a name which acknowledges that the theme of living upside down is constantly seen in Jesus’ teaching. The aim is to see things through God’s eyes and act on the things which are really important to us as disciples. At the end of each study there are discussion questions to enable people to engage with the theme and to inspire upside down living within our communities.
This resource can be used by any group which meets during Advent. Why not set up a group to meet regularly throughout Advent to discuss and pray together? Or perhaps you would like to hold a service based on the plygain carols where the carols could be sung by the congregation and the studies used as meditations.
On Sunday 2nd November, Radio 4’s Sunday Worship is coming live from Llanyrafon Methodist Church in Cwmbran at 8.10am. It’s led by the Superintendent minister of the Gwent Hills & Vales Circuit Rev. Cathy Gale, and the Chair of Synod, Rev. Dr. Stephen Wigley, and picking up on the theme of ‘all saints’, will reflect on the Gospel call to ‘social holiness’. (And for those who miss it going out live, a version should be available of the BBC i-Player for the next week.)
The Safeguarding Leadership Module scheduled for this Saturday 11th October in Jersey Marine has been postponed due to lack of numbers. Another session will be arranged soon.
Neath Methodist Church in the Neath Port Talbot Circuit is celebrating its centenary during 2014. The first Methodist cause in Neath had been a Bible Christian chapel. When a larger building was required and planned in 1911, the Bible Christians had become part of the larger United Methodist Church. So on 3rd September 1914 Windsor Square United Methodist Church, Neath, was opened. The trustees financed the building of the church by asking for donations of a penny a brick. Consequently the church has always been known locally as “Penny Brick”. The church became Neath Methodist Church in 1971, following amalgamation with the nearby Neath Wesley Methodist Church. Members of other congregations have also joined the Neath Methodist congregation following the closure of other churches at Aberdulais, Briton Ferry and Skewen Wesley. Our centenary celebrations have therefore embraced the stories of these other churches, as well as “Penny Brick”.
The first main event of the centenary year was a three day Flower Festival in June, with displays provided by community groups and neighbouring churches. Throughout the festival the main church meeting room was transformed into the “Windsor Tea Room”, with vintage teas being served each day. Several hundred people were attracted to the festival at various times. It was a very successful venture.
On 3rd September, the actual anniversary of the opening of the church, an exhibition was opened by HM Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Glamorgan, Mrs Ann Harries. This was part of “Open Doors 2014”, an initiative of CADW. Many photographs and memorabilia were on display that proved to be of great interest to local people. The displays not only reflected the history of “Penny Brick”, but the other churches that have since become part of it. Throughout the twelve days of the exhibition the church was open each day and once again the Windsor Tea Room proved very successful. The opening of the exhibition also included the launch of a commemorative book by John Southard, “Pennies for Heaven”.
On the evening of 3rd September a very successful Centenary Dinner and entertainment was held at The Castle Hotel in Neath attended by 80 members and friends.
The Centenary Thanksgiving Service was held on Saturday 6th September. A number of civic and ecumenical guests attended and the preacher was Rev Dr Stephen Wigley, Chair of the Wales Synod. At the conclusion of the service a centenary plaque was unveiled and a large centenary cake was cut.
Later in the autumn we have a special schools event, “Experience Harvest”, for which over 300 children have been booked to visit the church and engage with various “stations” focusing on the goodness of God and the fruit of the Spirit. We also have a number of former ministers returning to lead worship and a Songs of Praise concert featuring the Neath Male Choir.
We are truly celebrating God’s faithfulness to us over 100 years as the members of “Penny Brick” continue to serve God and their community.
Here is some exiting news about Applecart’s theatre tour of ‘i am Mark’, a show with drama, storytelling, song and monologue based on a radical telling of Mark’s Gospel. The tour has been funded by a Connexional Mission and Ministry grant and will travel to eleven different towns and cities across the UK from Penzance to Edinburgh and across from Swansea to Norwich. Applecart have performed at Methodist Conference Worship, Greenbelt Arts Festival and their films, funded by the London District, can be seen online at www.applecartlive.org . ‘i am Mark’ is a development of Applecart’s epic telling of Mark’s Gospel that was performed at London’s Leicester Square Theatre in 2012. The creative driving force behind Applecart’s work is Peter Moreton, a long standing actor who regularly appears in London’s West End, and Rev Phil Summers, a presbyter, actor and storyteller.
Applecart’s UK theatre tour of ‘i am Mark’ is up and running and is coming to The Taliesin Theatre in Swansea on 10th October (http://www.taliesinartscentre.co.uk/).
From a standing ovation after it’s first showing in Brighton to packed houses in Oxford and Stroud, ‘i am Mark’ has entertained, disturbed and challenged audiences wherever it has been performed. Don’t miss out on this rare opportunity to see an outstanding piece of theatre.
We finally have some photos of the Methodist Women in Britain Prayer Labyrinth at the Amelia Trust Farm. Many people who visit the farm, still don’t know that the Labyrinth is there, so please encourage people to visit. It is near the entrance to the farm, just beyond the main car park. Instead of walking towards the coffee shop, bear left before the entrance and it is straight in front of you.
Help is still needed with weeding etc. if people are willing to help, please contact Janet Neilson by phone 01792 202085 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We are also organising two events for 2015.
In March, there will be a day led by Mary Williams with the theme ‘The Tree of Life’. Further details will be available next year.
On October 6th, 2015, there will be a Quiet Day at Nicholaston House, Penmaen, Gower. The theme will be ‘Welcome to the Feast’ and will be led by Janet Neilson. Further details available in the new year.
On Saturday Methodists from Circuits right across Wales met at Theatre Hafren for their annual Synod. The meeting welcomed new ministers to Wales, heard reports from the Methodist Conference in June, discussed the new Presumed Consent Legislation in Wales, was encouraged by new projects being developed to work with asylum seekers and refugees (in Cardiff) the homeless (in Swansea) and the arts (in Wrexham) and was introduced both to new members of the Learning Newtork and the insights of Lego ‘serious play’. Synod was pleased to hear about the response to ecumenical proposals from the Gathering of Covenanted Churches, to designate 2 new ecumenical projects (in Sketty and Milford Haven) and also to welcome ecumenical guests in Canon Aled Edwards from Cytun, and representatives from the United Reformed and Presbyterian Churches.
A particular highpoint was to welcome Megan Thomas, the new Methodist Youth President as she begins her year of office. Megan hails from the Newtown area and was able also to join in the Youth Forum which was meeting at the same time in Theatre Hafren. (A report of Youth Forum is also available on our News page)
On Saturday 13th September, 27 young people aged between 11-18 connected with Methodist Churches right across Wales met at Theatre Hafren, Newtown, for their annual ‘Youth Forum’. We had a good loyal number of young adults helping, as well as a Worship band from the Methodist Churches in Aberystwyth. We started with some welcomes and good refreshments, well it was an early Saturday morning!
Our theme and journey for the day was ‘Change’:Change in 3 ways
1. Change the World in One million ways. In this workshop led by Christian Aid Wales, young people were encouraged to think about how can we serve God, love people and protect the planet. 2. ‘Change Hearts’ This was led by Emily Barry assisted by Trish Earlam, where she led a ‘Bible log in’ to encourage the young people to see the Bible as something that still has the power to change hearts.
3. ‘Change Attitudes’ Megan Thomas (UK Youth President for 2014-15) and Abby Watterson led this session in which they encouraged the young people to think about mental health and related issues facing young people. Deacon Samantha Taylor (in keeping with some of the adult Synod topics) did a short presentation on ‘Presumed Consent’ and information booklets were given to young people and adult leaders there, so they could continue their own discussions in their church youth groups.
After lunch Pete Taylor and Richard Sharples talked about future youth participation in Synod Policy Committee. Two young people put themselves forward to be nominated as reps to a Synod Policy committee meeting to be held early next year. These were: Mary Sharples & James Noys. Both are from North Wales. Richard and Pete proposed their names be accepted and all present were in agreement.
We had some times of Worship throughout the day as well as some ice breakers and ‘voting’ games led by Cathie Steele and Bex Shaw. A promotional video on 3Generate was shown to encourage more young people to come next year. Towards the end of the day, we came into join the adult Synod for the closing devotions. 3 young people took part in the devotions.
On behalf of YWAG, I wish to thank all who helped on the day, and we have to give Thanks to God for all the young people entrusted to our care in our Churches and Circuits across Wales.
Rev. Peter Taylor.