I was privileged to attend a day for Local Lay Ministers on 11th November 2017 at Penrith Methodist Church. The day was very well supported with about 40 people attending from across Cumbria – wonderful opportunity for LLMs to meet together, share ideas, find out more about God for All and Healing Ministries (and much more), to develop positive and caring relationships and, of course, offer one another support.
We started the day with worship and a warm welcome. Bishop Robert was able to spend the whole day us, and opened the proceedings by speaking about the God for All strategy which allows everyone to discover more of God’s purpose for their lives. Central to the theme of his talk was that God is for all – not just for some – and that there needs to be ministry and mission by many – not just by some. He suggested that without ‘mission’ the church is simply a group of Christians hanging out together! Bishop Robert spoke about the three central themes for God for All: Outreach and Mission; Buildings and Mission; Ministry and Mission.
Following Bishop Robert’s interesting input we were treated to an explanation of what mission means from Rev. Godfrey Butland, Rector of Cockermouth Mission Community and Terry Peate, LLM. They explained how their mission structure worked across four churches and how by working collaboratively they were able to grow the Church whilst maintaining each church’s unique and individual character. The session finished with the unforgettable quote, ‘our business is not to fill the Church with believers but to empty the community of non-believers for a future that we are unsure about’.
The last session before lunch dealt with Safeguarding issues and was led by Charles Proctor, Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser and Kaley Vaughton, Safeguarding Trainer. Kaley gently tested our understanding about who was at risk within our Church communities and the nature of the risks, and explained to us what training was available and who should be trained within the Church. It was clear from this session that Safeguarding needs to be embedded firmly into the culture of all our churches.
After lunch Alison Fleetwood, GP and advisr to Carlisle Diocese gave an interesting talk on healing ministries, suggesting that more people are prepared to talk about healing than religion. She explained that healing ministry is very broad and includes surgery, medicine, cognitive based therapy, counselling and prayer, but that some of the time it is enough simply to walk alongside, listen to and support people. She talked about the potential to have access to parish nurses who may help with end of life or bereavement episodes. This was a caring, interesting and thought provoking session.
Nicki Pennington finished the day by concluding that we need to link learning with development, and to bring faith into our daily lives and work. She emphasised that ongoing learning is foundational to discipleship. A lovely service of worship ended the day accompanied by beautiful music and the opportunity to be anointed by Bishop Robert, Revd Butland and Revd Pennington.
This was an encouraging and thought-provoking day where people had given generously of their time and expertise to arrange and speak at this event. There was much interactivity and connectivity and surely a measure of the success of the day was the fact that the time just flew and left you wishing for more! If this is the standard of development day that we can expect from CCL then we are blessed to have them prepare and support us for an uncertain future. My sincere thanks go to Bishop Robert, Nicki Pennington, Elaine Bates and Janet Cox.
Author: Vivien Stirrup
LLM and Dementia Enabler,
St. Michael and All Angels Church, Beetham