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The Diary of a President, July 2016 (Part 2)

My third President’s Blog starts on 15 July with a visit to attend the South East Area Executive Meeting held at Union Chapel in Islington. This involved a lively discussion about the future of the Federation. They were also very kind and gave me a gift for the time I was Secretary to the Area.

One highlight of the evening was the magnificent meal that had been prepared for us by the Margins Kitchen. This serves the Margins clients but also provides the food for Union Chapel's prestigious concerts and events. The kitchen helps to train clients for work in the catering industry and business.

July 2016It really was an excellent meal and those who get to eat this food, rich and poor are very fortunate. What a wonderful experience! Many thanks to those who fed us and well done for the work you do raising the profile of the Chapel.

Union Chapel is a marvellous piece of architecture and history - a Grade 1 Listed Building. We were given an excellent short tour and potted history of the chapel and then told of its integration into the social needs of its location. They run a project called "Margins" that seeks to meet the needs of those at or near the margins of society.

They also provide a location where world class concerts and events can be held in a world class venue. "Gigs" with artists such as Elton John are held there bringing all sorts of members of the public into the chapel where they experience, not just the event, but also the Christian and social justice work of the Chapel.

17 July. I was delighted to lead worship at my home church, Orsett Community Church. They are such lovely people and they want to hear all the news.

They are taking part in the Thurrock Art Trail where a series of galleries, restaurants, pubs and churches open their doors to welcome people to view the work of local artists.

The photos show some of the moving paintings by an Orsett artist and member of the Parish Church. They show, staring from the Annunciation, the story of the life of Jesus. My photos cannot do justice to the art.

This is an excellent way of drawing people from all over south Essex into the church to study, pictorially, the life events of Jesus.

Tuesday 19 July saw my monthly session with my Spiritual Advisor. I really do value these times together. A chance to dare to give voice to all those thoughts that can only otherwise be shared with God.

Speaking them out, sharing them, listening to another point of view from someone you trust - invaluable. What a joy!

29 July and it is time for a special group of church friends to come to our home for tea. These are the lovely loyal folk from my previous church who were my guinea-pigs, volunteers, support group, and friends. They saw me through the trials of my FdA and then through the BA (Hons). They saw me in down times and rejoicing. They stuck with me when the going was hard and cheered me on when my energy was flagging. We all need support like that.

We still meet every month for tea and a catch up. It was jelly and ice cream this month as the weather was so hot. Thank you, my friends.

I attended Hutton Free Church's Family Fun afternoon and BBQ on 25 July. Great event, nice burgers and bacon rolls. Good sideshows and games, cake stall and bouncy castle. First time I have even seen "Children versus Children on the bouncy castle!

Arrived at CF-XTRA Summer Camp on 25 July. 28 great young people plus some others like me who are not so young! Fabulous facilities. Canoeing, abseiling, climbing wall. Lots for them to do and for me to encourage(!) and watch.

Worship time was good with the young people all taking part. Good to see little friendship groups forming as well as the whole group coming together.

Tuesday and I have got a day off from Summer Camp to go to York St John University to attend a course on Research Design ready for my project on the way ordinary members of our congregations view baptism and Christening ... If I have not roped you into helping with this, I soon will!!

Still at Whitemoor Lakes with CF-XTRA at Summer Camp for day 3. Some of the young people have been sailing, raft building and going on a challenge course. Here they have to work in cooperation with each other to achieve the challenge - getting to the other side of the route without touching the ground.

Day three at Whitemoor Lakes with CF-XTRA at Summer Camp. Some of the young people have been sailing, raft building and going on a challenge course. Here they have to work in cooperation with each other to achieve the challenge - getting to the other side of the route without touching the ground.

Visited the National Memorial Arboretum during some free time at Summer Camp. The memorial with all the posts is called "Shot at Dawn" and commemorates all the soldiers from the First World War who were shot accused of cowardice and later pardoned. One post for each person shot. There are so many memorials and woods, some of them unexpected like the SANDS memorial for stillborn and newborn babies who die. Really moving and well worth a visit.

Visited the chapel at the National Memorial Arboretum. This is a lovely place of peace, filled with the prayers of those who have come to the Arboretum, to visit specific memorials and to remember special people.

Then returned to camp walking along the riverbank with wild flowers looking so beautiful. A lovely quiet time with God.

Wednesday night at camp is Fun Quiz Night. The Leaders' Team (Gold-diggers) was doing pretty well until we came to the music round. Even then, the other members of the team did very well (21/30). I just about managed to recognise "In Christ Alone" and that was all.

But I noticed, on the other side of the hall at Summer Camp, one of the teams was not just answering all the questions but also bopping along with all the words and actions to these songs I have never heard of! I feel old!

Morning Worship on Thursday morning at camp was led by the Core Team of CF-XTRA. It was excellent - even the Leaders joined in!

This has been an interesting time when I have been able to make contact with some of young people and spend time with them. Discussions ranged from "How old are you?" through to a discussion on whether free will truly is free will and whether it can exist anyway, taking in the distinct difference between God in the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. Fascinating and challenging.

These are pictures of the young people taking part in the Bible study on Ephesians with Kathryn and preparing for worship as they practice some of the songs we will be singing in our worship time. A very talented bunch of people and a great blessing to us all.

Visited Hutton Free Church's "Love Hutton Festival" on 29 July. Great fun and lots of children playing and having fun. They decorated the church wall to tell everyone that Hutton welcomes children. They did some craft and decorated the church with their memory verse. Lots of singing with actions and some thoughts about Champions. They decided to write to Theresa May about being a champion for the country. Very enterprising! Well done everyone - lots of hard work.