Cook @ Chapel

This project of one of my churches, Hanslope Methodist Chapel, was just featured in a Methodist Connexional resource designed to share what exciting new things are happening in our churches.  My hat is off to Katherine who has spearheaded this project and provides such good leadership for it.- Mindy 

EVANGELISM – Cook @ Chapel
From: Hanslope Methodist Chapel, Buckinghamshire

Cook @ Chapel
Credit: Katharine Crowsley

A Fresh Expressions vision day inspired teacher Katharine Crowsley to ask a lot of questions about what God wanted her to do in her area. She tells the story of what happened next.

My church is Hanslope Methodist Chapel in Buckinghamshire; it’s very family friendly but I wondered if we were reaching young people – not only our own young people but other young people in the wider community?

One thing that really stood out for me from that vision day was the story of a ‘bread-making’ church in Liverpool. Although this was established in a very different geographical and social context to ours, I really liked the idea of praying and worshipping, talking about Jesus when cooking, and then eating a meal together. A lot of teenagers don’t want to sit around and talk to you but many will have a conversation while they are doing something else.

When I went to the Church Council for support, they asked me to first test the idea. I linked up with a community food worker and we did a six-week trial before I applied for a grant. We drew up different menus and asked if we could do it for those aged 12 to 16. We got the go-ahead to run it for the academic year from September to July, and we’re now into our second year. The Methodist Church gave us a fresh expressions grant with our chapel and local community having to match-fund it.

We run Cook @ Chapel on Friday evenings for two hours and about 7-9 young people come along; we couldn’t accommodate any more than that. Jamie Oliver has fired a lot of interest in cookery among young people but it is our volunteers who have been the experts. We generally have one main volunteer and two more on standby. Young people don’t do much cookery at school now so they tell us what they would like to learn and we do it – things like cheese sauce, chilli con carne, tortillas and lemon drizzle cake.

After we’ve made the food we sit down and eat together; it’s very informal – they really like that. They also like to take it in turns to say grace using our grace dice. Conversations around the table and while cooking can be about all sorts of things. Originally, I thought I would need young volunteers to link to these young people but I was wrong. The older people have been ideal, they relate to our ‘cooks’ in a different way and sometimes they can talk to them very much more comfortably about faith issues.

The young people who come to Cook @ Chapel don’t necessarily come to our church, in fact only two or three of them do, but questions about faith and spirituality come up quite naturally again and again.

Following on from this initiative I became involved in a youth service called Cross Purposes that takes place every month in nearby Newport Pagnell. It’s a joint Anglican, Methodist, URC and Baptist project at Newport Pagnell United Reformed Church but a lot of its planning and delivery is done by the young people themselves. My vision is to link Cook @ Chapel to Cross Purposes – it’s not too difficult a leap when it’s young people inviting young people to go along and find out more. As we look into 2011 and beyond, we pray that will happen.

E-mail contact: Kath Crowsley
Website: Fresh Expressions

Surprises happen.

Surprises happen… in the practice of ministry that is. And not only do they happen but they happen all the time.

For example, this past week I went to hang out at Greenleys Family Centre for chaplaincy time. I thought I was going to hang out with the kids and their moms. Much to my surprise I ended up spending much of my time talking to a volunteer (and others there for the coffee morning) from Milton Keynes Museum about this collection of items for use by civilians in WWII. This volunteer was there preparing to be the speaker at the after-school club meeting that afternoon.

In the course of this conversation (in addition to discussing the morality of war, the role of religion in exacerbating conflict, and how travel can help one understand this world) I learned lots about the British experience in WWII, local history, and how civilians lived through the war. I got to handle this ration book.

I was surprised to be reminded that rationing in Britain continued for nearly 10 years after the end of the war. As the USA is insulated by oceans, Americans experience of WWII which I learned about in school was very different.

I failed in guessing what this item was (this was prior to the doll being placed in it for demonstration purposes).

Do you know what it was?

It is a gas mask for a baby. The baby’s head goes into the bell shaped bit with the window and the fabric gets belted around their waist. Then to get air in through the filter an adult must pump the accordion hose. Apparently the instruction were for babies to stay in them 15 minutes beyond the all-clear sign just to make sure that the littlest ones wouldn’t catch any whiff of nasty chemicals.

It wasn’t how I had expected to spend my morning but I am glad I had this experience. I found this talk of history helpful for my understanding of the stories which shape the local community and I enjoyed the conversations. In fact I consider it a great benefit of my job the diversity of tasks I get attend to and the cross section of people I get to meet. I like it that surprises happen.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Ministry is…

I am back at work after 9 months of maternity leave.  For those of you to whom this is news I hope it helps explain this blog’s mysterious silence.

I have now been back at work for several months.  Due to the timing of my return in June and its proximity to the lull of the summer holidays it was as gentle a transition as could be expected back into the world of full-time ministry work.  This means that the busyness of September has hit me like a ton of bricks.  September 1 marks the start of a new Connexional year for all (British) Methodist congregations and that along with the start of the school year means there are all kinds of  activities starting up and a fresh round of meetings.

These transitions in my life, due to circumstance & season of  the year, lead me to reflect on what is the nature of the work of ministry.  I found the following quote by Henri Nouwen helpful and thought-provoking.  I hope you find it challenges you too, because after all the work of ministry isn’t just about what the clergy do.  Ministry is the work we are all called to by virtue of our baptism.

Henri J. M. Nouwen

The question is not to prepare [for ministry] but to live in a state of ongoing preparedness so that, when someone who is drowning in the world comes into your world, you are ready to reach out and help. It may be at four o’clock, six o’clock, or nine o’clock. One time you call it preaching, the next time teaching, then counseling, or later administration. But let them be part of your life in God–that’s ministering.

Source: Time Enough to Minister in the journal Leadership (Spring 1982)

If you like this quote and would like to receive other reflective quotes like it daily in your inbox you too can sign up to receive an email from inward/outward.     I am so pleased to have recently found this resource from the The Church of the Saviour in Washington, D.C. and I am especially glad to share it with you.  Their description of their daily email is it provides a space set apart to wonder, dream, explore…what it means… why it matters… how it works… when ordinary people come together in pursuit of community, justice, forgiveness–set free for the sake of Love.  Check it out; I hope you feel blessed by it too!

Online Christian community… an exploration

If you live in the Milton Keynes area you are invited to join in an online Christian book discussion about the book  Blood Brothers: The Unforgettable Story of a Palestinian Working for Peace in Israel by Elias Chacour. (If you follow the link above it takes to to a pdf file where you can read the first bit of the book online.)  Elias Chacour, a Palastinian Christian, is now Archbishop in the Melkite Greek Catholic Church and tells his own life story in a very powerful way.

On the Biblelands trip to the Holyland last October, our group had the privilege of meeting with Elias Chacour, hearing him tell his story and answer our questions.  It was a highlight of the trip.

Peter B. & I had were inspired by Elias’ powerful vision for peace in the region.  We thought his book would make good material for an online Christian book study.  In this study we look forward to reflecting on this powerful book and sharing some of our experiences from our recent Holy land trip.

The online format allows you to read the book in your own time & not have to travel to weekly meetings.  However, we will meet in person  for the introductory and concluding sessions on:

Sunday the 17th of May at 3:30 pm

Sunday the 12th of July at 3:30 pm

In between these meetings, our discussions will take place on a private blog.

To reserve your place (and find out the location of the meetings) or for more information please comment here (and leave your email address) or contact me, Rev. Mindy, at revmindyatgmaildotcom.  Please help us spread the word by telling your friends & others who might be interested.

We will have the book available for purchase at the introductory meeting.

Change of scenery

In honor of the Online Book Study which is starting this Sunday I have changed the picture in the header.  In the study we will be reading the autobiography of Archbishop Elias Chacour, Blood Brothers.   The above picture is of me with Elias as he was autographing my copy of Blood Brothers. The photo was taken in October 2009 at his office in Haifa after he generously spent much of his morning meeting with our Biblelands group.  It was a very inspirational morning.

Blogging as a Lenten Discipline?

Hello ya’ll!  That is if there is anyone out there… I hope I still have a few readers.  Sorry, I have been such a bad blogger.  I know I really have been terrible!  I haven’t posted anything since August when I had once again recommitted myself to posting.  So here I go at another try… I am trying to think of blogging as a Lenten Discipline I am taking up in order to reflect on life, in this season of preparation for Easter.  After all isn’t Lent about facing our brokenness (my inability to keep promises I make to myself), changing our ways (repentance), and trying again confident that God journeys with us.

On a recent Wednesday evening, I traveled to The University of Northampton to hear John Bell, of the Iona community, at a lecture entitled “Incarnating Mystery… The Power of Words and Music in Worship.”  It was a great lecture and I was very glad I had made the journey to Northampton.  John started out his lecture by sharing a story.  He said when he was young and first thinking about a life working in the ministry of the church he was given some good advice by a local minister who was wise with experience.  The advice was, “You have to have three loves if you are going into some form of the ministry.  These are a love of God, a love for people, and a love for words/language.”

It was the third of category I was surprised by.  I didn’t think it was wrong, I just didn’t expect its inclusion in such a list.  John went on to explain that we primarily convey truth about God through words and thus a love of language is important.  His sharing prompted me to see this experience in my own preparations for Sunday worship and more fully in John’s work as a writer of poetry, prayers, & hymns.  There is also something deeper to it too because we Christians call Jesus Christ, the Word of God.  As people of faith we use humble words to explore the mystery of the Word who called all creation into being. (John 1:1-5)

So it is back to blogging for me as I seek to explore with you the world of words and language.  Until next time…

Life Partners

While I am posting sickeningly sweet “awww shucks” pictures I thought I might as well continue and share one more. This one is in honor of Ted’s and my celebration of our anniversary this week.

On the 11th of August we celebrated 7 years of marriage. We both agreed that it has been an adventure, but one we would sign up for all over again if we had to. 🙂 It is a good thing we both feel that way, because partnered relationships only grow with mutual and continual recommitment to the relationship. I often say in wedding sermons that love in Christian marriage isn’t just a “mushy romantic feeling” (though it can be mushy and romantic at times). Christian love often is a commitment to do the loving thing, even when you don’t feel like it. Whenever I have the privileged opportunity to share those words at a wedding, I too appreciate the reminder about the loving commitment that it takes to nurture and strengthen a relationship. Happy anniversary to us and to all of you partnered folks out there, in the hope of celebrating many many more anniversaries!