Friday, 26 June 2009

A Series of Emotional Events

So, today we said farewell to the pulpit!
Having been told that our oak pulpit was slotted together, we arranged for Jonathon Hemingray to come and dismantle it. The plan being that he would use the wood to create crosses which we could take with us and/ or sell to raise funds. Sadly, he discovered that the pulpit was actually made of pine and far from being slotted together, it was largely nailed.
Many thanks to Jonathon for persevering - about 4pm, he disappeared into the sunset with a car full of what wood he could salvage, and will contact us again over the summer when he has worked out what he can do with it.

On my way home from church this morning, I noticed a workman in a de-contamination suit outside one row of boarded up houses. Whilst I cannot, in any way, blame him for wearing a de-contamination suit given the state of the houses, I am left rather saddened that the view the outside world has of Openshaw is that you need to wear a de-contamination suit to come here!

It feels all the more important that we continue to proclaim that God loves Openshaw.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Worship Material for Holiday Clubs

You may know that Clare writes for Roots on a pretty regular basis. This year they have produced some material for churches who run holiday clubs. Clare has NOT written any of this material but Roots is usually pretty usable, so if you think you might be interested, click on the title to this post and it will take you to the Roots website where you can download the material.

Theology in Strange Places

Over the next few weeks, we have so much to do! We have to de-register for weddings and get rid of the registers before we can sell the safe. We have to get the water/ electricity/ gas etc cut off. We have to sell all our furniture. Get the pulpit dismantled and turned into art...

We also have to relocate all our projects.

Last week Clare arranged for the coffee morning and credit union collections to move into the local SureStart children's centre. They were fantastically keen - and offered to prepare a flier and poster to send out. Could they please have our logo to put onto it?

Of course, everyone knows us as Mersey Street - which doesn't work as that is the building we're closing! So we need a new name and a new logo.

Fortunately, our founders had the foresight to give us the Sunday best name of "The United Baptist Tabernacle, Higher Openshaw." We have done a lot of work over the last few years on the concept of a "Tabernacle." I was gently teasing a friend who is a member of another famous 'tabernacle' - their building is so magnificent that it has even become the name of a bus stop!

We, on the other hand, will be homeless for several years to come. So the image of a Tabernacle works. And when we mentioned this to our church secretary, yesterday, he immediately came up with the image of a circus tent!

And my mind went back to the Brian Wren hymn upon which Dancing Scarecrow is based:

Here hangs a man discarded
a scarecrow hoisted high,
a nonsense pointing nowhere
to all who hurry by

Can such a clown of sorrows
still bring a useful word
where faith and love seem phatoms
and every hope absurd?

and David's circus tent seemed strangely appropriate. So I've tried to link it in with our dancing scarecrow. And this is the result:

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Have Congregation; Will Travel

A Word of Explanation

Dancing Scarecrow has rather been put on hold by the fact that Manchester City Council have finally got round Compulsorily Purchasing our church building. I wanted to use the word 'stealing' there, but realise that it would probably be libellous. I'm not sure, though, what you should call a legal process which deprives a church community of its property with only the promise that at some future date they will get round to compensating us.

However, it is clear that the British legal system has little to do with Justice! Manchester City Council now own our building although they are 'graciously' allowing us to continue using it for the next few weeks. We will have to hand over the keys by the end of July at the latest, despite the fact that at the moment we have not even received our surveyors and lawyers fees which they promised to pay up front. Let alone the compensation which they are due to pay us.

If I sound a little tired and jaded this evening, that is because I am feeling tired and jaded, having spent most of my - and Clare's - free time recently putting in place provision for our various projects to be housed elsewhere in the short/medium term.

However, in terms of worship - which after all is what this blog is supposed to be about - I think we have some exciting plans. One week per month, we will worship with the local URC with whom we have been working for over 20 years now. One or two weeks per month we will worship in my front room (as long as it is big enough). And the remaining time, it is a case of "have congregation, will travel."

If you have a small congregation that would like a few more to worship with you one Sunday: send us an invitation.

If you would like Clare and me to lead worship one week: send us an invitation and we'll bring the whole congregation.

If you would like to explore Godly Play - or poetic worship: send us an invitation and we'll bring the congregation.

If you are doing something which you think might interest us: send us an invitation.

Have Congregation; Will Travel