Subway Prophet

…and the words of the prophets were written on the subway walls…


7 Comments

Day 2: And so it begins!

It was an easy start for me today. Because the main business of Conference began in the afternoon I got to sleep in a little and have the morning to be a bit of a tourist. ¬†ūüôā

US embassy building in London

US embassy building in London

Because it was July 4th, a trip to the US embassy only made sense. It proved to be less exciting than I expected because like everything else in America it had the day off. The guards were friendly, but definitely not letting any tourists in, no matter their nationality.  I did get to enjoy the many presidential statues all around Grosvenor Square. There was FDR, Eisenhower, and Regan (not to mention the one of Lincoln next to the Houses of Parliament!)

The morning ended with a simple midday communion service at the not-so-simple St. Paul’s Cathedral. It really is a beautiful place!

Conference began after lunch with the Presbyteral (ordained Elders/minister) session. Conferences used to be only for the clergy and local preachers. As the movement grew, however, the church realized that the leadership needed to be shared with the laity–and it has been the stronger for it!

My main task was to walk around MCH and capture the feel of Conference with pictures. For a shutterbug like myself this was a dream come true! See the gallery below for some of my favorites, or go to the Methodist Church’s Flickr page for more.

Walking around I got to talk to many of the staff and volunteers who were helping to make the conference run. A little while ago a message went out to the circuits around London requesting volunteers and the people who stepped up have a passion for Methodism and a seriousness to their task. Methodist Central Hall is a very open place, so as one woman told me her job was to “help the right people in and keep the wrong people out.”

In the session, the highlight for me, and many, was the pastoral address given by the outgoing president of Conference, Mark Wakelin (click here to listen). He reminded the presbyters of three simple truths:

  1. God is God
  2. God is with us
  3. God believes in us.

There is going to be a lot of business done in the following days which is the result of the decline in membership of the Methodist Church in Britain. This reality can be responded to in many ways, however, I believe that if we as faithful people of God (who are also called Methodist) can  keep those three truths in mind we will witness God doing amazing things in and through our churches and the wider Connexion.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

(This is a series of blog posts during the British Methodist Conference. For other posts click here: Day 1)


3 Comments

Day 1: Holy Conferencing

Greetings from London! Over this year, London has become one if my favorite cities. It is full of life and has a sort of personality to it that I cannot really describe. Every other time I have been here I have always been a tourist, showing people the main sights. This time, however, I have a job to do. ¬†I am helping with the media team at the British Methodist church’s Annual¬†conference.

Conferencing is one of the defining features of Methodism. Ever since John Wesley gathered his local preachers for the first time in 1744 Methodists have gathered together yearly (if not more often!) to share in fellowship, worship, but most importantly to make decisions about the future direction of the movement.  My first Annual Conference in 2007 was where I made my First public declaration of my call to ministry, so these meetings will always have a place in my heart.

Image

Site of Conference 2013

Conference this year is at the Methodist Central Hall. It is a beautiful venue right across from Westminster Abby in the heart of London. As I walked in from the train station past the Eye and Big Ben it was hard to believe that this was my life!

I am really looking forward to experiencing how our British cousins do Annual Conference. There will be a lot of things that are the same. Budgets need to be passed, elections need to be had and presentations need to be made about the various ministries of the church. There will also be a lot of things that are different.  A president will run the meeting instead of a Bishop, the Archbishop of Canterbury will be addressing the Conference and nature of the issues will be different as well. The best part, however, is that I will have the front row seat to it all. As part of the media team, I will be keeping the website up to date as the conference goes on, live tweeting conference events, helping with speakers and anything else that the team needs me to do. The days are going to be long, but my commute to and from London will provide some time to write and reflect on the days events. If you would like to follow the events of Conference you can go to: http://www.methodistconference.org.uk or follow #methconf on Twitter. You will undoubtedly see me and many of my friends on there with updates, thoughts and more than a few humorous asides. It is going to be a great time!

(This is a series of blog posts during the British Methodist Conference. For the following posts click here: Day 2)


4 Comments

Little Wesley Returns!!!

For those of you who are new to this blog (or are not on my facebook) you may have missed the drama. If so, I suggest you check out the back story first here, then read on.

Little Wesley ready to go!

Alright for the rest of you, I need to fill you in on the story. After we last met Little Wesley, he was packed¬†and¬†ready to go. And go we did. Wesley kept me company on the plane and when I got into London. The¬†family I staid with was so excited to see him (alright maybe it was more amusement bordering, but exact¬†emotions are not important!). Ready to¬†see¬†the sights of London, LW and I set off on our first adventure:¬†touring the Wesley Chapel. Wesley Chapel was the central hub of Methodism during Wesley’s life. It was¬†where he staid when in London (which was only during the winter months), and where any Methodist circuit rider could find lodging and rest. This place meant so much to John Wesley that he was buried in the back yard even though it was unconsecrated ground. It was remarkable. After touring the Chapel, Little Wesley and I took some pictures outside by the statue before heading over to pay our respects to Susanna Wesley’s grave. Unfortunately, there are not enough (or maybe too many) visitors to Susanna’s grave that it is inaccessible to the public. Therefore we were not able to get a picture.

The last known picture of Little Wesley

As a result, Little Wesley was tucked away in my coat pocket to keep him warm. After searching all over for a way to get into the graveyard, I realized that it the midst of all the fun I had lost track of time. I ran as fast as I could to the nearby Tube station and was half way to the platform when I realized that the lump in my jacket was gone. Little Wesley was missing! Not wanting to leave behind a fallen friend, I ran back and retraced my steps, from the Chapel to the graveyard and back looking as carefully as I could, but there was no luck. Little Wesley was gone. We put feelers out at the Chapel, but they had not seen him. Having shared this story with a few people we have come with a few possibilities:

Me and LW on an original Wesley pulpit.

1. Susanna Wesley’s ghost plucked the likeness of her son like a burning brand from the fire of my jacket.

2. A small child picked up the fallen Little Wesley from the ground putting her/him on the path of sanctification and Scriptural holiness following in the long tradition of Methodist education and discipleship.

3. Little Wesley, taking his motto a little too seriously, decided that the world was his parish and therefore could not be confined to a ministry of following me around.

Because all three are likely possibilities, the truth may never be known…

The story, does not end there (as if you had not guessed from the title of the post….)! After posting the bad news, I received many comments of consolation. Because (surprisingly) Little Wesley dolls are not popular in the UK, getting a replacement was going to be difficult.¬†Fortunately¬†for me, you, and British Methodism, there are generous people in the US who felt that no England Exchange program would be complete without a Little Wesley. On the same day I learned that both Bobby (the original Wesley benefactor) and my grandmother had sent Little Wesley dolls over to me. Bobby’s arrived first this morning by “parcel” and there was much rejoicing in the common room (alright, maybe there was eye-rolling, strange glances mixed in there as well, but there was definite rejoicing as well!). I am so grateful to have Little Wesley 2 (and soon to be 3) with me now. The adventures can continue!

As did his likeness, Little Wesley 2 has already been facing some rumors of what adventures may be next (all I can say is that there is talk of soaring heights and possible equine accessories…). Because Little Wesley has always been a community mascot I want to put the question to you. What do you think happened to the original Little Wesley? What adventures do you think Little Wesley 2 needs to experience? Feel free to leave your ideas/suggestions in the comments or on my facebook. The fun has only just begun!

The first picture of Little Wesley 2. Many more to come!

If you would like to see some pictures from Wesley Chapel and other Methodist excitement, check out the pictures on my facebook here.


1 Comment

Sorted

Sort‚ÄĘed:¬†(past participle) To have everything in their proper place, to have something figured out or under control.

Of all the British words I have learned in my two weeks in this country, this is the one has been almost a theme for me. I really don’t like to move. There is something disconcerting about taking all of your possessions and moving them to another place, unpacking it all, getting settled only to do it all again in a few months. I know that this is an unfortunate feeling for a future United Methodist minister¬†committed¬†to¬†itinerancy, but I think that living in five different places in the past five months has been about four too many. I like having roots. There is a deep sense of comfort to having a home, a community, friends and family nearby and meaningful work to do. That is one of the main reasons it has been so strange to pack up one suitcase full of clothes, books, and¬†some other essential items; board a plane; and arrive in another country with an ocean separating you from all of those roots you love.

When I stepped off the airplane at Heathrow all I had with me was my luggage, camera, and $100 (which quickly turned into £51.29). What I also had was a promise that at 9:00 a young man bearing a sign with my name on it would pick me up from the airport and take me to his house to stay for a week. It was this promise which would be the beginning to what was a fantastic week.

How I met the Logans is a long story, but they were such a means of grace for me in my first week in Great Britain. They welcomed me into their family helped me get oriented  to not just the city of London, but also British Methodism and British culture. Because of them I had a fantastic week in London and Cambridge. There are so many stories from this week that I cannot fit them all into one post, however, I do hope to post some of them in the future. Suffice it to say when I boarded the train for Durham I took with me not only my luggage, but an English phone, a large stack of pamphlets from all over London, 1,000 pictures, and the beginnings of a new community in this country.

When I left the safe comforts of London and the Logans and entered Durham I once again became uprooted. Now I had to navigate a University bureaucracy in which I as an exchange student operating outside the conventional structures for international students was was utterly clueless. Again though I boarded the train with the promise that at the station, Debs, one of the British students who had studied at Duke last year, would meet me at the station. With her help and that of the persistant and patient administration I managed to get my room, my ID card, my finalized schedule, and a vague understanding of how this year was going to work.

Do I have everything figured out? No. Are there still many things which are up in the air? Of course. However, as we begin our induction week (orientation), and I meet my fellow students who will be on this journey with me over the next year I can’t help but come back to my (already messy) room and, for the first time in a long while begin to feel sorted.

P.S If you would like to see some of my best pictures from London check out my Flickr photo stream here.

Welcome to England!

1 Comment

So nine days ago I boarded a plane in Jacksonville and then 12 hours later I found myself in London. I remember getting off the plane and into the left passenger side of the car which was picking me up from the airport and being in shock. None of it felt real. Was this really another country? Was this really happening? To be honest, I don’t think that any of it has fully sunk in yet.

I arrived in Durham, UK on Wednesday September 25 (25 Sept, for all my British friends) and since then I have been trying to get settled into my room and my new college. While I was in London I took over 1,000 pictures of various sights and views around the city from the outlying countryside to the busy streets, the beautiful architecture and the fascinating museums. There was so much to see I only barely scratched the surface.

On the train ride up to Durham, I finally got a chance to begin editing some of the pictures. I only got about half way through. This upcoming week is Induction (Orientation, for my American friends), and classes do not start until the 8th of October, therefore I should have some time to finish editing pictures and writing down some of the really cool experiences I had around London. Because I did not want to leave anyone empty handed, I went through the whole week and picked out a few selected favorites to tease what is to come. Click on one of them to open up the gallery. Thank you all for your prayers and support so far. I definitely think that the best is yet to come!

Cheers!

 

This gallery contains 7 photos