District Visit of the President of Conference BEH Logo

19 - 24 November 2016

When the President of the Conference led Sunday morning worship at Oxlease Methodist Church in the St Albans and Welwyn Circuit, the congregation were delighted to welcome back one of their former ministers.  Rev. Dr Roger Walton was minister at Oxlease Methodist Church in the 1980s until being appointed to serve in the then Division of Ministries.  The congregation, which included numerous old friends, greatly appreciated Roger’s imaginative leading of worship and accessible preaching style.  Lively conversations continued over a splendid lunch prepared by members of the church’s Zimbabwean fellowship.
 
Afterwards, the president visited nearby Birchwood Methodist Church, which is a very fine example of the way in which outdated church premises can be replaced by a compact and more suitable building, funded by the sale of part of the site for residential housing.
 
Later, at Hatfield Road Methodist Church in St Albans, the president addressed a circuit audience, providing clear and insightful answers about the contemporary mission and ministry of the Methodist Church in conversation with the Superintendent, Rev. Rosemary Fletcher, who drew on topical questions submitted by the audience.  Following a welcome break for tea kindly provided by the church, the president preached at a lively circuit service led by circuit staff together with the worship band.  In both morning and evening services, the president addressed the themes of holiness and justice in an engaging and inspiring way.
 
On the following day, the president travelled with the district chair to Clacton in the Tendring Circuit to meet with the ministers before visiting the Brooklands ward of Jaywick, which is among the most deprived communities in Britain.  Here Deacon Janet Jenkins gave the president a tour of an area in which she exercises a ministry of befriending and supporting some of the most vulnerable people in society.  Then it was back to Trinity Methodist Church in Clacton for the regular Monday ‘grub club’ run by the church where ‘guests’, many of them experiencing acute poverty and even homelessness, can enjoy a free hot meal served by volunteers.  Over lunch, the president listened attentively to many of their stories, his warm and easygoing manner winning an appreciative response from those whose voices are often not heard let alone respected.
 
In a packed schedule, the president was soon being whisked away to High Leigh Conference Centre in Hoddesdon, where he led a retreat for those ministers in the Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire District in their first ten years of ministry.  Again, the president skilfully combined his considerable theological, educational and pastoral gifts to lead a three-day ministerial retreat on ‘Exploring Holiness and Justice’.  Our ministers returned to their circuits having been well nourished spiritually and theologically, and greatly encouraged in their ministry.  Everywhere he went, the president made new friends as a result of his personal grace and holiness.
 
Rev. Dr David M. Chapman
Chair, BEH District