President’s Blog: 2nd May 2022
After an absence of three years, it was wonderful to see so many of you face to face last weekend at our Connexional Conference at The Hayes Christian Conference Centre, Swanwick and to see so many on Zoom. We were sorry that some of you contracted covid and were not able to attend in person but I hope you all felt included in what was a most inspiring and enjoyable conference. The lovely weather helped enormously and we were able to enjoy the beautiful grounds and the spring sunshine. It was good to welcome so many first timers, younger women and Martha aged 4yrs and to have such an inter-generational spread. It was lovely for friends to meet again and to hear the joyful chatter!
‘Surviving by Hope’ was our theme which was ably led by Jill baker and Fiona Kendall from Mediterranean Hope. Jill led the Bible study on Noah, giving us fresh insight to a familiar story with her own touch of humour. Fiona gave us modern day, parallel stories of refugees and asylum seekers who brave the elements and the oceans to flee from war, and poverty, exacerbated by climate change. After coffee, Jill and Fiona interviewed one another and we were able to hear how their faith had upheld them in the face of adversity and how Fiona had felt called to work for Mediterranean Hope in Italy. Their experiences moved us to write a letter from the conference to the Prime Minister and the Government about their treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.
Our sub-theme was ‘Birds’. The logo on our programme was a feather wrapped around with barbed wire, representing the frailty and aggression experienced by refugees in their hope to survive. The raven and the dove play an important part in the story of Noah and so we followed this sub-theme by devotions, visual displays and bird quizzes. My thanks go to Hilary and Nina.
The afternoon workshops followed the theme through poetry, talks by various agencies which offer help and hope to survivors, creative writing, writing prayers, Just-Ice Ice-cream and kite making.
Elizabeth Morris, who is the Learning Officer and storyteller from Englesea Brook, entertained us with the fascinating story of Sarah Smith, one of the first women to open her home to the Primitive Methodists in Englesea Brook.
We heard news from the WFMUCW, MWiB and I was able to launch my project for AGLIT+ (Adolescent Girls Literacy Plus) in Malawi.
The Sunday Morning Green Communion was led by our Chaplain, Rev Pam Roberts and Jill preached on the three words: Green, Grace and Grain.
It was great to meet together and to worship together and to see so many young people joining us and being involved. Thank you to all those who took part or helped in any way. I hope to see you all next year. The planning begins now!