The first edition of the new Methodist magazine the connexion has been published. It’s full of encouraging stories from around the Connexion, including three from Wales (about the Lab project in Newport, Irfan John’s work with the Trinity project in Cardiff, and the visit of the Methodist Modern Art Collection to Wrexham) together with an interview with Megan Thomas our Youth President. 3 copies have been sent to everyone on the Methodist mailing list to share with others, so if you want to see a copy, please contact your local minister or church officer – they will be delighted to hear from you.
‘Heaven and Earth’
January 19th – March 26th 2015
The Methodist Modern Art Collection
Wrexham is to host what has been described as ‘the best denominational collection of modern art outside the Vatican’. For ten weeks between January 19th and March 26th forty works from the collection will be on display across two venues; Wrexham Methodist Church in Regent Street and Oriel Sycharth at the University.
“I first came across the Methodist Collection of Modern Art when I stumbled into a tent at the Greenbelt Festival. I could not believe that the Methodist Church – my Church – had such a wonderful collection. I was so overwhelmed that I wept,” recalls Rev Richard Sharples, Minister at the town centre Methodist Church.
The collection is one of the best kept secrets of the Methodist Church. It was the initiative, in the early 1960s, of a Methodist layman, Dr John Morel Gibbs of Penarth, just outside Cardiff. He was very conscious that within the Methodist Church and indeed within Non-Conformist Churches in general there was little appreciation of the insights that contemporary artists could bring to the Christian story. Today the collection comprises 50 works including works by Patrick Heron, Graham Sutherland, Eric Gill and Ceri Richards, and is regularly exhibited across the UK.
“We are thrilled to be partnering the Wrexham Methodist Circuit in this project,” enthuses Prof Estelle Thompson, Head of Division, Media, Arts & Design at Glyndŵr University. “The collection covers most of the significant movements/artists from the last 50 years.”
Both venues will be open 9.30am-4pm Monday to Saturday. In addition a full programme of concerts, seminars, conversations and workshops will accompany the exhibition. Entry to the exhibition and to all events on the programme is free.
“I see the arts as a common language shared by people inside and outside the Church,” explains Rev Richard Sharples, “We hope that the exhibition will open up a space for conversation between the artist and the viewer, between the Church and the University, between the sacred and secular, between the believer and the non-believer.”
Guided Tours (English or Welsh) are available by arrangement and sessions tailored to both Primary and Secondary Schools are being offered to schools across and beyond the Borough.
Additional Safeguarding Sessions available in January
The Safeguarding team is pleased to announce that two additional sessions of Creating Safer Space training are now available in Cardiff in January 2015:
Foundation Module: Thursday January 22nd at 6:45 for 7pm at the Trinity Project, at the junction of Newport Road and Four Elms Road. Names to Paul Demery, Circuit Safeguarding Co-ordinator, please: firstname.lastname@example.org
Leadership Module: Monday January 26th at 9:45 for 10 am at Cyncoed Methodist Church Fellowship Room, Westminster Crescent, CF23 6SE. Names to Amy Adams, Learning and Development Officer, email@example.com
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.