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Welshpool and Bro Hafren Methodist Circuit

N.B. All services of public worship in the Welshpool & Bro Hafren Circuit are suspended until further notice.To use the Service Sheet prepared for 22n

Weekly, we will be publishing a 'Home Worship Sheet' for your use at home.

For the service for Sunday 5th July 2020 click heree
To us

The June to August 2020 Magazine & Plan is now available to read here

A word from Rev Bob:-                                                        Click for Earlier Corona Mail
Corona 12

I don’t remember who was on quartermaster’s duties at the time, but the other day we ran out of marmalade. Admittedly it was the last jar of the last batch made from the Seville oranges bought in January 2019 – if we’re being totally, scrupulously, honest here I seem to recall bringing home maybe nine pounds back then – enough for three batches producing about thirty pounds in total. We have had other things on our minds lately so keeping count of marmalade jars remaining wasn’t very high on our list of priorities.

The next time we shopped I included a jar of marmalade – the only thing to be said in its favour is that it didn’t last long. Marmalade appeared again on yesterday’s list but as I wandered around Morrison’s (having previously made two trips to the tip) my eye was caught by lemons – on offer – and limes. I’m writing this to the sensory accompaniment of lemon and lime pulp being boiled in one pan, and shredded lime and lemon peel being boiled in another. It’s making my teeth water. Tonight the pulp will be strained through a muslin bag – we used to use a knitted cotton dishcloth until Ruth caught us and set us on the straight and narrow. The contents of the two pans will be united, six pounds of sugar added, subjected to extreme heat, cooled, bottled, and labelled before finally appearing on a slice of toast.

. . . There has been a slight pause in order to initiate the straining process, the peel continues to simmer away. Lemon and lime marmalade is something of a first – Seville orange is delicious, grapefruit less so, lemon and lime will shortly come under judgement. I tried baking corn bread the other day – it was edible but nothing that special – I’ll make another loaf to finish off the polenta but I shan’t be in any hurry to have another pop, not after we have unlimited access to wheaten flour in Tempo. As skills learnt are transferable I’m looking forward to ‘making ministry’ in a different context with a slightly different recipe, living ‘off-site’, working half-time, spending time with myself – and Jenny – moreso than I’ve been able to do these last thirty odd years.

. . . It is now the morning after and the marmalade has gone from teeth watering to making my toes open and close with a bang – even without the benefit of toast. The jars are warming while the pan sits cooling in order that the peel might settle throughout the mix – I’ve only tasted the drips that fell on the plate to test for setting – honest, but it’s very sharp and by the look of things will be a tawny orangey colour. I’m still something of a rookie when it comes to jam and marmalade – recipes are followed to the letter, times strictly observed but even so setting point remains a mystery. The change in consistency and appearance that wiser heads speak of are beyond my wit to notice. I remember some of my mother’s spectacular failures – strawberry jam that wouldn’t set, mincemeat that started to ‘work’ in the jar and acquired a delightfully alcoholic tang, but I don’t remember any of them surviving very long. There are some things that just cannot be hurried – marmalade and ministry among them – patience is the key to a profitable outcome. Quick fixes seldom last long and often necessitate further work that could have been avoided if more care had been exercised at the start.

From my perspective ministry is more about process than outcome – a group of people each with their own particular gifts and skills – working together for the growth of the kingdom and the good of the particular community in which they live. An exercise in co-operation that God will bless in God’s own way – sometimes even in ways that no-one thought possible. The role of the pres-byter is more akin to the conductor of an orchestra than a sergeant-major of marines. The particular blessing arising from a period of ministry is never down to one person no matter how willing some individuals are to seek the glory of it.

As time goes on it seems increasingly unlikely that we will be able to share in anything like a farewell service that we have known – if anyone has any alternative suggestions I’d be happy to hear them – my hope would be for a service in praise of the generosity of God who calls each one of us into ministry and developes in each of us a particular set of skills and abilities that enable a particular outcome – which may or may not be intended. Among the contributions to the ministry of the Welshpool Bro Hafren Circuit I would be hoping to celebrate are those of Michael Jones – he was Senior Circuit Steward when I arrived and is currently in hope of standing down or at least assuming a more consultative role, Stan Mountford – Circuit Property Steward without whom life in the Manse at least would have been quite fraught, his oversight of the management of the Circuit property portfolio, his willingness to go into bat against TMCP has been of inestimable worth, he too seeks to be relieved of his responsibilities. Michael Taylor is taking another crack at sitting down – he expressed a wish to do so when Sue left but was willing to continue with ‘light duties’ in Welshpool. Janice, Derek, Emma, Anthea, Kevin, Andrew, . . .  Church stewards, local preachers, magazine producers and contributors, tea makers and washers up, cake-bakers, gatherers in worship, readers of the Bible – we are together the people of God, the Body of Christ in this place, ours is the ministry that God has blessed, ours is the ministry that God will continue to bless in the times to come, wherever we exercise it with whomever we share it.

Corona 11

 Over coffee on the back step this morning Jenni told me of a conversation she had recently had with a friend from one of our previous appointments. It had been a brief conversation because she was leading a retreat on ‘Zoom’. There is something of the ‘technological Luddite’ in Jenni and myself which dealing with t’internet in Newtown has greatly exacerbated.

When we go on retreat we head off to a convent on the edge of Monmouth and the company of the sisters of the Society of the Sacred Cross. For the few days that we are there we ‘live apart together’ – sleeping in separate rooms, meeting up with each other only at meal times and for worship in Chapel, spending an hour or so together in the early evening in conversation about the days reading and contemplation – sometimes in the company of one of the sisters. Whatever Jenni’s friend thought she was doing on ‘Zoom’ it bore no relation to any retreat we had ever experienced – or for that matter would ever wish to.

Retreats are infinitely personal things involving God and the person, sometimes they involve travel and leaving home and there is a group that organises ‘retreats in daily life’. The only requirements are space, solitude and a degree of comfort. The introduction of ‘technology’ into the relationship with God is to me just a further hurdle to be overcome.

The experience of ‘quarantine’ has been quite enlightening for me. For long years I have treasured and nurtured the gift of preaching entrusted to me – reading all sorts of books to freshen my understanding and use of language, trying to help folk make connections between the stories they read in the Bible, their library books and their daily lives – to recognise that our experience of life is not significantly different to that recorded in the pages of Scripture. I have not entered a pulpit for nearly twelve weeks and am surprised to realise that I have hardly missed it at all.

The service of Holy Communion that I shared with the congregation in Newtown on the 15th of March – as the nation went into quarantine – was very strange. Even though we were together it felt as though we were worshipping apart – no handshake in greeting or farewell, no giving of bread and wine but rather a taking – yet now that we are apart it feels like we are worshipping together. I have realised that a congregation is a vital part maybe even the beating heart of worship for me – it is about a personal presence as much as about a Real Presence, it is about the embodiment of God – the sense of God – in the life of the individual.

My faith is about a quality of relationship – God with us – us with each other – a quality of relationship that can only be experienced as it is embodied. I talk to my children and grandchildren on skype and on the telephone, it is always a pleasure to see them, to hear their voices, but that pleasure is dependent upon a prior relationship – a relationship can be mediated by technology and any relationship that begins other than in physical contact will be significantly changed – for good or ill – when that first meeting occurs. Back in the good old days we were encouraged to ‘have’ pen-friends – whatever magazine I read as a child encouraged their readers to respond to a pen picture of a person and send their letters to the editor who would forward them on to the person in question.

I can be whoever I want to be in writing a letter, releasing tweets and snippets of information on Facebook or whatever, I can only be known as I am – as I am met – looked on, listened to, breathed in, touched and talked to. Maybe this is the time when the Christian church gets to grips with the technological communication of the Gospel – for some of those who hear the idea of joining a local congregation will be meaningless – their faith will always be private and personal to the exclusion of everyone else. They and the Christian Church will benefit more as they are drawn into the congregation of the faithful in a particular place.

As the national conversation moves on and we consider how to encourage people to get out and about, to meet and greet again, there is a conversation to be had in the Church around how we are to draw these newcomers to the faith into relationship in their particular community.

 A Gateway to Methodism in Mid Wales.
A warm welcome to the Welshpool and Bro Hafren Website. We cover a very large and beautiful geographical area stretching from Welshpool, in the north east of the Circuit and to Llawr Y Glyn in the south west.

Our Superintendent Minister is Rev Bob Thomas. He is supported by accredited local preachers and worship leaders, with the help of retired ministers and occasional visiting preachers; there are regular acts of worship in 7 chapels across the Circuit.

Information about each of our 7 chapels can be found by using the navigation bar on the left.

Rev Bob Thomas

Chair of Wales Synod
 Rev Dr Stephen Wigley 
 Rev Bob Thomas                        
Other Ministers resident in the Circuit
 Rev Michael Taylor
  Rev Penny Burkill
 Rev John Newbury
Local Preachers 
 Mr Terry Jobling OBE      
 Mrs Eileen Jobling 
 Mr Graham Smith
 Mrs Eleri Williams
 Mrs Doris McNulty
 Mrs Maureen Douglas
 Mrs Jenny Thomas
 Mr John Harbron
 On Trial 
 Andrea Davies 
On Trial
 Kat Bond 
 No longer taking services
 Worship Leaders
 Mr & Mrs Alan Bradburn
 Mr Derek Painter (in Training)
Chapels and attached
 Circuit Stewards
 Janice Rhodes (sub: Michael)
 Pentre Llifior
 Janice Rhodes  (Derek Painter)
 Stan Mountford (Anthea)
 Janice Rhodes (Stan)
 Anthea Bradburn (Alun)
 Michael Jones
 Llawr Y Glyn
 Michael Jones (Alun)



Forthcoming or Recent Events:-

Coronavirus - for the latest on this regarding the Methodist Church, please click here and resource

Rev Bob's Farewell Service - this will take place at Newtown at 6.00pm on Sunday 12th July.

Money Management Course - Click here CAP Poster for details of this free course.

Conference Business Digest:
follow this link to read about the report for local churches
about the business of the
2019 Methodist Conference

Acknowledgement of Service.

At the end of an evening service at Newtown, on behalf of the Circuit, John Harbron acknowledged Graham Smith's huge contribution to the Circuit as a Local Preacher by presenting him with a certificate (signed by President, Rev Steve Wild and Vice-President Dr. Jill Bamber. Graham has  completed over 40 years in this role. More photographs can be seen by clicking here.

Time to Reflect - You are all welcome to contemplative prayer as part of your journey with God. "Waiting on God in the silence" will be a half hour of silent prayer held at the Manse, Newtown at 2.30pm on the second Tuesday of each month.Ring Jenny on 01686625690 for more details.

Editors Marlow,
7 Apr 2020, 08:24