Yesterday started with our Circuit Staff Meeting. Normally we’d have this in one of the manses, but this time we had a change of venue meeting in Starbucks instead. It was a very positive experience . First off, I went to order the coffees. Of course, I made sure to ask for Fair Trade. What happened next impressed me. The beans they had in their espresso machine weren’t Fair Trade certified, but the barrista was able to tell me at what stage in the certification process they were and spoke very warmly about wanting to make links with local fair trade organisations. She even came up with some free samples, which is always nice.
Our meeting followed its usual pattern, beginning with prayers. Our super led an Iona liturgy and, strangely, it felt like the most natural thing in the world to be doing. The shop filled up with customers around us as we prayed, but I wasn’t aware of causing discomfort or itrritation to anyone. I’ve thought for a long time that more church meetings should take place off our premises and in public spaces - pubs, cafes etc. One of the problems we have in Britain is that “God talk” has been taken out of the public sphere to the extent that it is widely considered abnormal. We don’t have to be aggressive in taking back this ground, nor does it need any special gifts or training. We just have the conversations we’d have in our homes and churches, but have them where other people have a chance of overhearing us. (If I get the chance later, I’ll be writing something more about this at Moving Methodism)
The photo of St Deiniol’s is explained by my second meeting of the day at that august establishment. I’ve just begun work towards an M.Phil., and St Deiniol’s is a regular haunt of my supervisor. It provides just the right sort of ambiance for that sort of meeting — and a decent luncheon to boot! I left that encounter with a goodish pile of work to do, but also with a strong sense of having begun an exciting journey. Business concluded, I met up with Tony Buglass, who sometimes comments here and who has been spending a few days enjoying the hospitality at St D’s. We spent a happy (for me, at any rate!) hour chewing the fat and putting the church to rights. I discovered that Tony has a weakness for the ‘techno-thrillers’ of Tom Clancy, which is not something that I think any minister should lightly admit. It’s a guilty secret that I share, though it has been a little while since I picked one up. I think I’ll put ‘Red Storm Rising
‘ on my holiday list. So call me a philistine.
The last meeting of the day was at my daughter’s primary school, where I’ve been elected a parent-governor. It’s much smaller than our school in Swansea, and that gives the governing body quite a different feel. Getting involved in local schools is a great way for the church to engage in a community and I’d encourage every church to explore the possibilities of such links. There’s almost always a need for volunteers to read with younger children and most heads are happy to receive offers of help with school assemblies. Of course, you can’t just turn up and anyone who is volunteering at a school regularly is going to need a CRB check. But whether it is getting involved with administration as a governor, working with children as a volunteer, or helping out the PTA in some way, assisting your local primary school can be very rewarding.