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April 30, 2023 Ruth Parrott

Co- Chair’s (North) Blog: 1st May 2023



Two weeks ago we held our annual Swanwick Conference, when over 180 women of all ages and ethnicities joined together in fellowship and friendship. It was lovely to see friends reuniting, ‘first timers’ being welcomed and to see our guests from Methodist Women in Ireland – Joan, Carmel, Olive, and Louise Wilson, the World Secretary of the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women. This year, our theme was ’Voices in Harmony’ and we certainly managed to sing our hearts out!

On Friday evening, I was able to report on my visit to Colombia, with the focus on three of the Sustainable Development goals – Quality Education for All, Gender Equality and Climate Action.

Saturday began with prayers; a choice of a Prayer walk, District prayers or Pyjama prayers. Madeleine, our Helen Kim Memorial scholar and Barbara Easton, our Britain and Ireland WF’ Area President gave us an account of their time at the Executive Committee meeting in Brazil and kept us up to date with news from the Federation. Our Keynote speaker this year was Pam Rhodes, of ‘Songs of Praise’ fame. In her ‘Hymns and Her’ address, she talked of hymns by women hymn writers interspersed with stories and we sang the hymns. She made us laugh and cry; we felt really blessed. Afterwards Pam signed the books she had brought, though she could have sold them three times over!

Saturday afternoon workshops, whilst being creative and informative were raised issues of injustice and gave us much food for thought. The evening was led by a signing group ‘Signs for Worship’ from Walsall, who explained the difficulties of those who experience hearing loss in a hearing world, then they signed a selection of worship songs.

Jenny Pathmarajah, gave an inspiring talk on how Rock and Roll has influenced Worship Songs, on Sunday morning. This was followed by a moving Communion Service led by Rev Helen Stubbs, our chaplain. We can use our voices individually but when we join with other Methodist and like-minded women, we can make a real difference to the world by speaking up against injustice, so let us use our voices to sing and to speak in harmony.

All too soon, it was time to bid our farewells, to return and reflect on a wonderful weekend.

If you attended our conference and have been enthused, how will you spread the message and encourage others to engage with MWiB and its values ‘for women, for justice, for Christ?

I hope to see you all again next year!