Tuesday, 19 October 2010


Last week at our Conference, Sue Hardwidge who was leading Morning Prayers, read Steve Turner's poem Spiritus, and then Dan Foster, improvised a sax solo around the melody of 'God in my living, There in my breathing', by Tim Hughes. It was sublime! Here's the poem:

I used to think of you
as a symphony
neatly structure,
full of no surprises.
Now I see you as
a saxophone solo
blowing wildly
into the night,
a tongue of fire,
flicking in unrepeated

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Engaging with Word and World - CBA Ministers' Conference

This year's CBA Ministers' Conference has happened, and happened very well! High Leigh provided us with their new (for us) main conference hall which is spacious, bright and well equipped; comfortable rooms and good food.

The speakers were excellent. David Kerrigan, the General Director of BMS World Mission, spoke on the Servant Songs from Isaiah, and brought fresh insight, a personal openness, and a connectedness with life, ministry and mission. David Shosanya, was stimulating, imaginative and graciously provocative as he spoke about Word and World in continuity, and in conflict. Maggi Dawn prepared us for Advent, enlarging our boudaries, helping us to engage with art and poetry, in a way which was enriching and delightful.

We received a lot over the forty-eight hours, but some highlights. David Kerrigan reminded us of the limits as well as the goal of the preacher, to bring people to the brink of mystery whereby they cast themselves on the mercy of God. He connected us with Henri Nouwen's 'The Return of the Prodigal', the reflection on Rembrandt's painting, contrasting the two very different hands of the Father in the painting, one strong, the other tender. But also he reminded us of Nouwen's illustration of the Flying Rodleighs the trapeze artists. The point is that the flyer does nothing having launched themself, while the catcher does everything; the flyer must trust, and if he tries to do anything he falls.

David Shosanya impressed me with his passion, boldness and sheer nerve, in engaging with local and national government. He has that rare gift of being full on but also gentle and gracious.

Maggi spoke of the faith of Generation Y, those born after 1982, who don't have a hostile attitude to faith, but show mainly indifference. She spoke about 'leaving something on the doorstep' in encouraging them to take a step, and then maybe another step, and she shared some of the creative Advent initiatives that she's been part of in order to do just this.

A Question Time in the early part of Tuesday evening worked very effectively - thanks to Helen for being David Dimbleby, and an impressive panel of guests. We even had the Question Time theme music! And later in the evening Maggi's concert was all that I hoped it would be, bringing her blend of music as a singer/song-writer, with lovely spoken transitions between songs. She participated in the Communion Service, with a song she'd taught the previous evening, and concluded the conference with a sung blessing over us. It was a bit 'Wow!'

For many people the programme isn't what the conference is about but time spent together apart from the normal rhythm of ministry, talking, laughing, praying, eating and drinking. These three days each year require a lot of planning, they're totally absorbing while they happen, and I confess to breathing a sigh of relief when they're over. But they are a significant and enjoyable occasion in the life of the Association.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

CBA Ministers' Conference - Engaging with Word and World

I'm really looking forward to the Ministers' Conference this week. We're at High Leigh in Hoddesdon, with three speakers, David Kerrigan, BMS General Director, leading the Bible Readings; David Shosanya, Regional Minister in the London Baptist Association; and Maggi Dawn, singer/song-writer, priest, theologian, author, broadcaster, and blogger.  The theme is Engaging with Word and World.

The annual conference provides some input but also creates space apart from the regular rhythms of ministry, and while we hope that people will be nourished by the worship and the addresses, we certainly expect that refreshment will come through being with friends in a relaxed environment.

In particular I'm looking forward to an informal concert to be given by Maggi on Tuesday evening. I'm not sure that we'll be able to create the ideal ambiance at High Leigh, but this is something different for our conference and it'll be great to have some good music. Maggi is taking a session on Wednesday on Preparing for Advent, so there's a welcome emphasis upon the creative this year.